Lost and pound shops
A belated happy new year to all readers, and especially those followers who came on board after Bard to the Future was Freshly Pressed in mid-December.
I thought I’d begin 2013 with a little postscript to one of my most-viewed posts in 2012: namely, my paean to the much-missed Blockbuster on Westow Hill, Crystal Palace.
Several people got in touch after I lamented the closure of our local, impossibly large and unusually peaceful video rental haven, asking what was to become of this prime Upper Norwood retail unit. For several weeks, rumours grew that it was to become a Poundland, or some other variety of 99p/£1 store, and so finally, over the weekend, it transpired.
I was passing on Saturday afternoon, and managed to grab this picture of some tasteful signage being – well, not so much erected as plastered all over the window to the detriment of any daylight whatsoever.
I’m no expert on the different denominations of pound shops, so I defer to Hermit’s superior knowledge on Virtual Norwood, where he confidently asserts that this is to be a Poundmart, not a Poundland.
But in truth, of course, as both his and my photo illustrate, it is neither. It is, in point of fact, a Foundmart, since that what the sign is poised to say. (I confess to quite liking the stance of the poor chap in my picture, captured in the first throes of his perplexity over the unfortunate positioning of the frame.) I wonder what a Moundfart – sorry, Foundmart – would sell? Presumably piles of ‘lost and found’ junk. Bits and bobs of unrelated goods, thrown together for no good reason other than their being too cheap for people to bother re-claiming.
What’s that, you say? Pretty much like a Poundmart? Alright, then. Poundmart it is.
Frivolity aside for a second, though, I’m conscious that not everyone is particularly enamoured by the ever-increasing ubiquity of pound shops and their ilk. Personally, I see them as serving a purpose, and am not averse to nipping in to pick up supplies (e.g. batteries) which are either shamelessly overpriced elsewhere, or tricky to find. The latter, in particular, is where they fill a crucial void – a void, very specifically, left by the late-lamented Woolworths.
Like Top of the Pops, I always think it’s one of the great mysteries of the past decade that Woolworths was allowed to fail. As the ensuing influx of pound shops demonstrated, there remains a huge market for odds-and-sods shops, filling the gaps left by bigger, brighter stores, and selling everyday stuff that is either needed urgently or best bought in person – and therefore not suited to purchase online. I’m no retail expert, but I do think Woolworths might have survived if only it had made it deeper into the recession – while also giving up on entertainment sales, where the web was clearly so much better.
After all, Crystal Palace-wise, there’s not a huge world of difference between what the Woolworths on Westow Hill had become and the Poundstretcher that took its place. It’s just that one, like Blockbuster, had fond sentimental associations (at least for me), while the other – in its unambiguous functionality – feels lifeless and unromantic.
As the poor guy in my photo would surely appreciate, it’s just a matter of perception.
Posted on January 7, 2013, in Crystal Palace, Housekeeping, Nostalgia and tagged 99p or less, blockbuster, poundmart, poundstretcher, upper norwood, virtual norwood, westow hill, westow street, woolworths. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.