MONDAY MAN: Payne’s Bar a time capsule

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It is a little blue village shop called Payne’s Bar. The shop has been located on this same spot for nearly 40 years with minimal changes to the structure apart from paint colour. In fact, if one were to venture inside the establishment, it would almost be like going back in time. A time when the cash box was the shop’s cash register, or when only grown folks were allowed beyond the swinging door of the “privacy corner” to engage in mature conversation while sipping on quality liquor and puffing on ciggys. A time when early 1990s favourite products such as Courvoisier and LCee’s potato chips were advertised on posters that covered the shop’s walls.

Today, these elements are still very present in Payne’s Bar, though they are now accompanied by some newer advertisements and an actual cash register – although the owner still calculates totals in a book. But ask any patron and they are sure to tell you that this intimate setting is what makes the shop special. To many, these features are but a few of the things that make Payne’s Bar one of the few remaining examples of the village life they once knew. The proprietor of this neighbourhood staple for the past 20-odd years is an affable man called Coastan Payne. There isn’t a person in Kendal Hill that “Payney”, as he is affectionately known, hasn’t served and doesn’t know by name. He took over the running of the shop full-time after his father, Sydney Payne, passed away in 1994. Before that, however, Payne was looking forward to life as a welder. As he busily served customers, the father of one told the DAILY NATION that his parents moved to Kendal Hill from St David’s, also in Christ Church, more than a half-century ago. The family also had a shop in Kendall Hill so he was very familiar with the business from childhood but never envisaged he would be at the helm one day.

After he left Water Street Boys’ School, Payne did nothing for a while until he went to learn a trade at the age of 17. “I could remember they [parents] wanted me to do carpentry but the sun was too hot,” he recalled with laughter. “So from 1974 I went to the Barbados Foundry as an apprentice welder until 1982 when things went bad and I [was made] redundant. “I then went and work at the Cement Plant for two years when it was under construction. Then I leave there and went to Coles Engineering in Frere Pilgrim,” Payne said. “I used to help my parents in and out when I wasn’t working. Then my father got old and the shop was closed for a period of time after he died so it was obvious that I would have to carry it on.” Payne said he had first planned to work in the shop and still do welding, “but the way things went, I didn’t worry with welding because it started to be too difficult [juggling] both”. The fourth of five children, Payne recounted some good days as well as the difference between running a shop in the past compared to today. One component he said had change drastically was crime and counterfeit money. Just about a decade ago, he was forced to install wire bars because the shop was burgled. After that, he had a couple more burglaries, but he said they had not discouraged him. “It is harder now to run a shop than in my father’s time ’cause you never used to get a lot of stealing and things were obviously cheaper.” The shopkeeper admitted that one thing he liked about the shop was being his own boss. Payne usually works long hours since the shop opens just after nine on mornings and closes around nine at night.

His brother Goodwin helps out at nights and on weekends. A mega supermarket is under construction in the area but Payne is not concerned that his shop will suffer. He says he believes there will always be a place for his type of operation. “I feel there is a place for the village shop. I feel so because shops did around so long and because of what it means to the village. It is almost like a meeting spot for friends,” Payne said. “I suppose it may affect the shop but that won’t stop the shop from surviving. It gine be slow at times; all like now it does be up and down. Some weeks does be slow but it ain’t too bad so I feel there is still room for the small shops. “Yet, I tell myself I don’t want to stand in the shop too long since I’m getting old, because there is a time for everything and you can’t go on forever,”

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