Surprisingly, this has been the cause of a ripple of disquiet in our little community, with some envisioning a veritable invasion of Eastern European immigrants flooding into the village, and our traders concerned about what competition will be presented by this new addition. There have been two heated public debates, and as you would image in any small community, a lot of viewpoints exchanged amongst the populace, ranging from the highly positive and enlightened, to some quite intolerant and sadly unpleasant ones.
I am happy to announce that the wait is finally over and ‘Pete’s Polish Supermarket’ is now open for business. I caught up with the owner, Mr. Piotr Piszczek last week and got to know him over a steaming mug of tea at Clackers Cafe:
Les Taret (LT): Firstly, on behalf of all your fellow traders on Main Street and Sodden Road, I would like to offer my warmest welcome to you and you business within our little community.
Piotr: Thankyou very much. I would have liked to have been able to come and meet everyone sooner, but was diverted by something quite unexpected.
LT: Well, your absence caused quite a stir – our Chamber of Commerce had been trying to contact you for some time and I’m afraid some people made a number of assumptions about you and your business. I hope that now you are open, people can reassess their judgements and treat you to the traditional lukewarm Soddenham welcome!
Piotr: Oh really? Well I hope that the good citizens of Soddenham won’t be too hard on me! Let me tell you about where I have been…
LT: There’s no need, you do not need to explain yourself, I just wanted you to know that some of us have been a little worried about how your business might impact upon us.
Piotr: No, really – it’s a good story! I was in Poland supporting my niece who got through to the closing stages in Mam talent! – the Polish version of Britains Got Talent. Her amazing act of playing free jazz on the willow flute whilst juggling between three and nine pierogi (Polish dumplings) beat off hundreds of other hugely talented hopefuls to get through to the quarter finals. Whilst she was narrowly beaten by Alphonso, the Pekingese on the piano at the public vote, offers to perform came flooding in. I had promised my niece that if she got through I would go and support her as her career got under way. Although I hadn’t expected her to get as far in the competition, a promise is a promise and I have been her driver and guardian whilst she toured the country, performing to packed houses all over Poland!
LT: That is a good story! She sounds like a very promising young performer and we wish her all the best. But now, tell me about the grand opening of Pete’s Polish Supermarket.
Piotr: Well, I’m hoping that it will be a grand opening; for sure, everyone is welcome to come and see our extensive range of polishes, waxes, pastes and abrasives, and there will be demonstrations of different kinds of buffing and polishing wheels, as well as a few ‘masterclass’ sessions on reviving tired old wood finishes and streak-free windows and mirrors. There will even be a live demonstration of the very painstaking art of french polishing! For the motorist we will be having a special promotion of “Polish it!” brand car shampoos, waxes and trim revivers. And for the children, if they bring along their bikes, we’ll even show them how to make it look just like new! Something for everybody I believe.
LT: So just to clarify; yours is a supermarket for cleaning and buffing products and not full of foods and products from Poland?
Piotr: Of course! it would take a special kind of fool to open a store like that where there isn’t a sizeable local populace of Poles already established! Oh. I get it now – all the worry about immigrants and competition. Polish, not Polish. I didn’t understand what you were getting at earlier. Thats what all the fuss was about?
LT: Erm, yes. It seems that one of our most common traits in Soddenham is jumping to the wrong conclusion. Still, it has generated a lot of public interest – that should make your grand opening a busy one.
Piotr: I hope so. I’ve put a great deal of money into this venture, and am moving my family here during the summer during the school holidays.
LT: Oh, do you keep to the same school terms as us then?
Piotr: Yes. Suffolk has the same school terms as everyone else.
LT: Sorry, I assumed that you were from Poland and were bringing your family over.
Piotr: No. My father moved from Lomza to Suffolk in the 1980’s and met my mother whilst lichen cropping during the summer of 1982. The rest, as they say, is history, and I was born and raised here with my sister.
LT: So may I ask who will be joining us in Soddenham then?
Piotr: That will be my wife Nancy and our son Noel, who is aged 5 and will attend the local school. We will live over the shop at first – I am going to renovate upstairs now that the shop is complete, but we would quite like to live in one of those nice Georgian houses on Thermostat Road, if ever one goes for sale!
LT: Again, welcome to Soddenham, and I’m sure you will be made to feel at home quickly. And sorry for the misunderstanding.
Piotr: Don’t mention it.