TEARFUL customers without money to buy food are begging to pay a shopkeeper later – seeing his wall lined with £2,000 worth of unpaid receipts.
Abid Hussain, who owns a North Yorkshire convivence store, said the cost-of-living crisis has only made his wall of 'pay later' receipts grow faster than ever.
The kind-hearted shop owner said he's owed thousands of pounds because customers are brought to tears in front of him as they don't have the cash to buy their essentials.
Abid says he and his staff at Lingdale's Family Mart have been giving away items "on tick" for years.
And while most customers come back and pay what they owe as soon as they have the money, others don't.
He told Teesside Live: "Some of them can't afford it, some are a bit embarrassed, they promise you 'next week'.
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"I don't count it. But there must be £2,000 worth of receipts on the wall, it goes right round.
"We are a small village and people are going through difficult times. We're a local, community-serving business.
"People are already suffering – you can see it already. With fuel bills going up, it's only going to get worse.
"We've done this for many years, people are already in hardship.
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"It's hard for a small business, we have overheads at the end of the day. Our electricity is going up."
And, after talking to the press earlier this month, he has today opened up about the generosity of strangers.
Abid said he broke down in tears after the community rallied around him, and sent hundreds of pounds to try pay back the money he is owed.
Abid told TeesideLive: "Strangers I don't even know have been dropping money off, we've had letters in the post, somebody walked in with an envelope and gave me £100, they said 'I don't want my name mentioned'.
"We've had messages from all over the country. We never intended to humiliate anyone or gain sympathy, we would never say who we were helping.
"Our message was that there are good people out there who need help and have just got into a situation where they can't afford things. Hopefully we've inspired other people to do the same.
"Other companies are starting to help with food parcels. That's what we had hoped would happen.
"I'm not a major charity, we're a business. The response has been marvellous, I'm grateful."
We've done this for many years, people are already in hardship.
He said he used to work as cabin crew for Tui, and his former workmates rallied together, too.
Abid said: "My colleagues saw the story and began raising money, they said 'you are not alone'.
"They sent £420, these are cabin crew, they're not rich, they're ordinary people with big hearts.
"I was quite touched. They had me in tears. I thought 'that's why I worked with these people for so long', they were my family."
Abid has also said he wants to start giving away 20-30 hot meals this winter, and is planning to work with the parish council on a voucher scheme.
He said: "This winter is going to be horrible for people.
"When the prices start going up, some people will really feel it.
"It really is going to get bad. We have to look out for our vulnerable people.
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"Some people come straight in and ask, others are proud and they don't want to.
"But they can come in and hand the voucher over and take a hot meal. We need to all work together."
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