Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Whatever happened to Richard Shops, anyway?


Watching Mary Portas - who I actually, genuinely love because she's so clever - try and solve the current retail crisis in a Money Programme special last night, it occurred to me that I've never actually been into a branch of Officers Club.

Mary visited the chain (which originated in Sunderland, fact fans) and met the owner. He confirmed the reasons why I don't go there: it's naff. It sells 'shagging shirts' for blokes to wear down the pub on a Friday night out. It sells mid-calf shorts and all manner of ghastly non-F-C wear. Of course the main reason is because it refuses to punctuate properly, if I'm honest.

Anyhoo, it made me think about the high street giants I eschew. And there are plenty of them.

Debenhams My mum swears by it for housewares, but I think it's dull with a capital D. The menswear is a frumparama. Just because Rocha John Rocha and Jasper Conran design for it, doesn't make it attractive. Bryn from Gavin & Stacey might think it's a shopping Mecca, but not me. We used to get pick n' mix from there as a child, but now there is no reason to go there. There's one almost on my doorstep but I've never actually been in it.

Somerfield Depressing colour palette. Never liked that smart alec 'mum' character they used in their ads. Nothing you could buy or make from here is remotely appetising. It's purely functional, for things like kitchen roll and yoghurts, but not fresh meat or market vegetables. Cooks beware! Only one notch above Morrisons, and you know my feelings on that.

Alexandra What's that? I hear you ask. Well, it's the uniform shop. The window always has chef, complete with tall hat, woman in blue nylon housecoat thing that old women in newsagents wear, and perhaps surgical scrubs. Not even having needed a uniform for anything other than school, I've never crossed the threshold and unless I'm going to a fancy dress party am unlikely to do so.

Clinton Cards Frankly rather common. Do they still make padded cards? They probably carry the Forever Friends range. It figures.

Specsavers Why would you? Terrible selection of plasticy frames. It's David Clulow all the way for me, as Spectacle Wearer of The Year 2011.

All Saints I've been and bought stuff, but it was a trial. It's intimidating. Millions of shop assistants who weight about 10 stone between them. And me. The clothes are an odd fit too. I scurry by now.

Russell & Bromley I know they do men's shoes, but that copper colour they're associated with depresses me. The shoes are just this side of boring.

Next Talking of boring. It used to be a must when it first opened. I remember a fantastic pair of purple suede loafers, a white shirt with a red diamond pattern teamed with an emerald green cardy c.1986. I thought I was cock of the walk. Now it's all grey chinos and nothingness. Very Eighties.

H Samuel If I was to surprise Mrs F-C with a trinket from here, she'd brain me. Who shops here? And why?

So other than that, apart from perhaps The Body Shop, Whittards, any coffee chain and KFC, I'm happy to shop anywhere.

21 comments:

Red Squirrel said...

All very valid – but what I want to know is, what are your favourites? As you'll know if you EVER listen to me, one of my bug bears is the dearth of decent men's clothes shops for the over-30s. Where to go, FC, where to go?

Five-Centres said...

Reiss, Squirrel. Though sometimes it's not all it's cracked up to be, or Paul Smith, which I always find a good fit. Failing that you wouldn't look out of place in H&M. Gap if you can actually find something you like, too.

Roman Empress said...

While passing, I bought some Darjeeling in Whittards on Sunday mainly because I was surprised to find the shop still trading.

Five-Centres said...

I thought they'd been wiped out too, Empress, but was surprised to see on in Winchester, albeit with a massive sale on.

We didn't buy anything though.

Planet Mondo said...

With you all the way FC Debenhams is middle aged dads and thoroughly dull. Next was good in the early 90s but has become Burtons Jr..

Shirts and suits for me are from Lewins and shoes by Loake - although have had a couple of lovely suits from Mangas in the past..

Casual wise it's ebay for tees, and converse. And T X Maxx for the rest, yes it's a jumble sale but mad bargains can be bagged..

Shops I don't get...

Chain store stationery shops - surely you can get this stuff from work - free! Robert Dyas who buys Ironmongery in the Square Mile?

PS - Did you know Spudulike are still marching on though

Five-Centres said...

I had a huge debate with someone at work once on how you don't see hardware shops in the middle of London. And as you say, why would you. Who buys a length of copper piping in Cannon Street?

I don't know those labels of which you speak, PM, but I'll be checking them out.

Bright Ambassador said...

There was a branch of Officer's Club in Newark but it was one of the 35 that closed during their recent troubles. Never been in the place myself, for the same reasons as you. Newark's a 'shagging shirt' kinda town. Any woman who finds a bloke attractive in an Officer's Club shagging shirt isn't the kind of woman I'd like to slip down between the sheets with anyway. Ben Shermanites, I call 'em.

All Saints - I've never stepped over the threshold - but it looks like one of those shops that was in that Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch, where you thought it was a discotheque until Rowan Atkinson flicked through a rail of clothes and asked someone for a different size.

I have two rules when shopping: 1 - Never go in a shop where the only other people are assistants, because you know that as they're much younger, thinner and trendier than you they'll talk about you and laugh, heartily, the minute you've walked out the door without buying anything and 2 - Never go in a shop where the staff look as though they're having more fun than you.

BPP said...

Wait a minute!

Shopping? Clothes?

I thought a man wrote this?

I WANT MY MONEY BACK!

Planet Mondo said...

Here go have a spend up

T M Lewins everything you need to look for in a good formal shirt: double cuff, split yoke on the shoulder, mother of pearl buttons, double stitching in the detail

Loake Shoes I go for 'seconds' you can pick them up for half the usual RRP

Mangas choose the colour of your lining, the fit, working button holes on the sleeve and plenty more

office pest said...

Oh yes, I'm with Mondo, you've got to have a pair of Loakes. Proper shoes for gentlemen - or cads. Made just up the road from me as it happens, - so that's Made In England BPP!
They crop up on ebay from time to time as well.

Five-Centres said...

Thanks PM. I do know of Lewins, and once bought a very nice red gingham shirt from them when they set up a stall at News international many moons ago.

Otherwise, it's all rather smart isn't it. I don't need to be smart for work - not all the time anyway, but do like the look of those suits.

Matthew Rudd said...

Erm, I've shopped at Officers Club a lot over the years, mainly for shirts, though in my defence I do, like Mondo, find Ben Sherman garments utterly abhorrent. When I wanted label-free, single-coloured short-sleeved shirts, they did the business quite well.

Debenhams is largely cack but in Hull in the 80s it was actually the most reliable place to get records, even though we had an HMV, Our Price, Andy's and the legendary local store Sydney Scarborough all to choose from. The branch is still there but I've no idea if it does records. I've only ever gone in there to buy female-friendly birthday gifts in the last few years.

Simon said...

MR - Debenhams in Ipswich stopped selling records about 10 years ago, so probably not in Hull any more either. I tend to go in there for the wife mainly - perfume and those nice lacy things at Christmas!

I can also recommend Loakes shoes - gota pair in TK Maxx and they are comfortable beyond belief.

LF Barfe said...

You do see hardware shops in the middle of London, you know. Buck and Ryan on Tottenham Court Road was always handy when I worked in the centre, and there was also Amy's 'Ardware on Southampton Row.

Clothes-wise, in late middle age, I find myself cleaving exclusively to Primark.

rockmother said...

I can still sing the entire Richard Shops song that featured on their tv advertising campaign in the 70's. I think there may be something wrong with me. I know all the words.

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