Tom the Barista

First published in Steve Cross Hampshire Chronicle: Photograph of the Author by

A while ago, I blogged about Winchester News, the newsagent’s affectionately known in town, simply as “Tom’s” , and although I’ve not had the chance to go back recently, a quick visit on Wednesday afternoon showed that even in vintage Winchester, where people constantly complain things never change, innovation has occurred!

Whereas before, a visitor to Toms one would confronted with racks and racks of newspapers and magazines, that gave you a couple of fun little corridors to wonder up and down, all this has been cleared away and a few long benches have been put into place – and the magazines and newspapers confined to one little shelf. In short, Tom seems to have become almost a full-time barista and Winchester News is now a great place to sit down for a coffee.

Tom has always served some fantastic coffee. I’ve already told the story of the time I went in with a ‘Costa’ takeaway cup, and got seriously yelled at, which really converted me to visiting. But before, there were only tables outside the store, which during the winter proved useless. However, during the summer, outside is a lovely place to sit, with a newspaper or book, and to watch the world go by. Even with the noisy traffic coming around the one-way system, it was an attractive atmosphere to soak up.

So, this innovation is the perfect way forward for me. I can soak up Winchester’s atmosphere whatever the season, and enjoy Tom’s great coffee. It’s yet another example of how Winchester businesses have been diversifying in the face of changing consumers (less people buy papers and magazines these days) – and one that really excites.

Despite the national chains that bring in a lot of people to the town, it’s really nice to do my best to avoid these, and focus my money on looking after the local retailers – and this solves a massive problem! Bye Starbucks, Costa and Nero, I’ve got Toms!

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