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Whats your favourite defunct retailer?

John Matrix

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Inspired by the news that WH Smith has been voted the UK's worst retailer, got me thinking about how it somehow manages to keep going when so many others have fallen by the wayside.

Are there any shops, brands etc that have gone tits up, leaving a gaping hole in your retail experience?

Telling for me when I heard the news, is that the immediate though which sprung to mind was "Pah, it's no John Menzies!"



Top left there on that bottom picture, 'Computers" that's where I remember spending hours browsing the Atari 65XE, and later, 520ST titles, drooling at the prospect of buying the likes of these:



Hard to believe that back when I was around 8 or 9, walking round a John Menzies for me, was the equivalent of going to somewhere like Bluewater today, it had toys, games, magazines, sweets, everything I could possibly wish to spend my meagre pocket money on as a wee bairn.  

Symptomatic of growing up in a low income family, discount retailers dominate my memories of teenage spending, and there can't be many places I spent more, than in What Everyone Wants


Reckon I bought most of my clothes from here, long before I understood the principles of fitting, my worst purchase being a pair of sky blue combats in a 36" drawstring waist (I'd have been around a 28/30 at the time) which I held up by pulling and quadruple knotting the drawstring.  Why, cos they were baggy ennit?  Despite ballooning as a result, at the crotch, to the point I looked that that fella off the gigantic bollocks documentary.

It's also where I began to amass my prized collection of VHS tapes, such was their limited, but varied and ridiculously cheap selection of vids, confined to a solitary rack at the back of the store like those pop up rentals you used to find at the newsagents which is often where as a young man, I'd get my first glimpse of the female form courtesy of a pencil sketched cover image,

Favourite pick ups included the entire series of 'Freddy's Nightmares' the rather terrible Nightmare on Elm Street TV series - this photo below is from an Ebay listing and I'm almost certain those are the exact same tapes and pricing stickers as those in my garage - it's also where I bought the wonderful Combat Academy which is an absolute hidden gem which had me convinced that Keith Gordon would go on to be a comedic megastar!




Whilst writing this, I was also reminded of another wonderfully misguided pastime, specific to defunct retailers, but not any I was particularly attached to, which was an early teenager, in an attempt to impress girls, we'd go to HMV, Our Price and Andy's Records, having one of each in the city centre, and pick up a CD or cassette single in each, in order to...and I shit you not, this is what we thought..."look richer".  The thought process being, that we could buy all of them in one shop, but carrying around additional carrier bags created the illusion that we'd been on a spending spree, and thus would have girls flocking in our direction, tempted by the dangling carrot of our deep pockets which in reality, contained little more than the receipts, and enough for the bus fare home.



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Andys Records and Ritz Video are the first that come to mind. I grew up just outside of Beverley, where Andys Records was the record shop of choice (as far as I knew), where my older brother bought all his records, so I'd kind of try and hang around and look cool while there as a family. The only thing I remember ever actually buying in there was the Lost Boys soundtrack on CD.

Ritz Video is a world of nostalgia for me, as my Dad worked there when I was a kid. Going there to rent Mega Drive games was the highlight of any trip into town, and Dad working there made it feel like we were getting some kind of special treatment.

Woolworths I don't have a lot of nostalgia for, other than browsing wrestling DVDs and Asylum films stuff for a couple of quid. But, however many years it's been since it closed, I still have the odd moment of, "where the fuck would I go to buy X?" for any bits of tat that I'd have previously just assumed Woolies had.

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Don't think I've ever been in a John Menzies in my life.

Used to love Toymaster but i think that was just because the one on Newland Ave in Hull used to have an incredible subbuteo selection back in the early 90s. Like most of these things, it had gone by the time I actually had income.

Woolies came to mind too. Was always a shop I had a wander around because of it's location in town. One of my first stops for new VHS, records and tapes. Obviously the pic and mix is well romanticised but I loved that too and they always had decent toys.

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Just now, Gus Mears said:

It's alright Rick, they'll probably start opening in Hull about five years from now. 

Don't take the piss, I'm being serious. I was only talking about it to someone in our new C&A the other day.

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29 minutes ago, SuperBacon said:


Nothing like getting to go there as a kid on a Friday night, look at all the choices on offer, then walk out with Summerslam 88 for the 20th time.

For me, it was always about rummaging through the DTV stuff, Olivier Grunier, Don the Dragon, Jeff Speakman etc - similarly, I was a sucker for a sequel, so anything like Bloodsport 4, despite bearing no resemblance or connection to the original whatsoever, you know I'd be taking those home.  

1 hour ago, BomberPat said:

Andys Records and Ritz Video are the first that come to mind.

Oh mate, I never consider video rental places, and Ritz was my first, long before the likes of Blockbuster, Choices et al.  I mean, just look at this...absolute thing of beauty - I guarantee, just behind the lady in the white top, that's where they'd keep the grot flicks.


Edited by John Matrix
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It'd hard to miss Woolworths when, in my town at least, a Wilko sits in the exact same space selling almost exactly the same things. The only thing missing really is music and movies etc., but that probably has more to do with those things slipping from the high street across the board. In fact, that's definitely the gaping hole in my retail experience: bigger music shops like Our Price, Virgin Megastore, MVC, HMV etc. 

If I decided that I wanted to walk into town to buy a record or a movie nowadays, there's literally not a shop in Harrow that will have a selection. I guess CEX will have a few, to be fair, but it's second hand and pretty random. The supermarkets might have the Top 10/20 in the charts, but I'll never find a new indie release or a discover a classic.

While popping into town for a bit of random shopping or gift-buying, a big music shop was an island where I'd get to cool down for a few minutes perusing things I actually like after rushing around everywhere else. There's nowhere really like that anymore.

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I grew up in a Northern town, most our shops were shit so Woolworths was great because it sold everything, wasn't a market stall and wasn't aimed at the 60+ market. I loved the pick and mix, we got toys from there, music, magazines, new lunch boxes and stationary for school, even clothes from the Ladybird section. 

Every random hobby I took up, Woolies could always accommodate. Me and my cousin when through a wierd stage of dying our clothes - Woolies. I started decorating and D.I.Y project because there was nothing else to do - Woolies. Started haberdashery - Woolies. It had everything.

To this day when I need random crap and can't find it, I still think 'they would of had that in Woolworths'. 

It took up a huge unit in my town which was empty for many years afterwards and is now taken up by random shitty poundshops that open up for a year or two and then close. Then a new one opens and the same cycle ensues

Edited by deathrey
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I had a falling out with Andy's Records on my 15th birthday. I was shopping for a copy of Post by Bjork, and they had the limited edition version on the shelf with a fancy box and probably a million remixes of Hyperballad on the end etc, but when they guy went in the back to look for it they didn't have any copies of Post at all. I never set foot in a branch again. Ended up paying more for a copy in my local independent record shop (which only does instruments nowadays, but was also home to the All Around The World record label which put out some dance anthems around the turn of the century). 

Until then I'd liked Andy's. I found some great hidden gems in their 5 albums for a tenner section. 

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I'll echo the Andy's Records and Our Price love.

I still miss Electronics Boutique. Was a great alternative to Game and seemed to be the only place I could get Amstrad games in to the mid-90s when it was a long dead format.6011789694_9fb2f848b2_b.jpg

I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time in the Warner Bros Studio Store in Meadowhall. That place was massive, loads of awesome merchandise and art prints and ad a play area that we would go in to mooch about at. 

See the source image

Jolly Giant seems to be something that nobody ever remembers. A toy superstore but never quote on the scale of Toys R Us.


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