Thursday, November 29, 2007

Department Stores

Remember how department stores used to be ?
Long before Debenhams and House of Frazer tarted them up.
The days when you didn't know what to expect on the next counter ?
When Menswear and Womens wear were on different floors and ne'er the twain shall meet ?

I went to such a Department store yesterday.
Sunwin House in Bradford.

I suspect that it only survives because Bradford Council think it was demolished a decade ago and so don't bother to collect Council Tax on the place, but in fact the jewel in the crown of the former Bradford Co-operative Society is still open for business albeit under the name of TJ Hughes now.

I don't know the history of how TJ Hughes came to be installed into the building but just two minutes perusal in the place yesterday gave me a damn good idea of how it happened - the Co-op wanted rid of the building, a trading company with a line of supply of unsellable crap gets interested in what is one of the biggest and most traditional of retail stores in Bradford city centre, they promise to employ the Co-op staff enabling the Co-op to walk away without any excessive closedown and redundancy costs, they may even have bought the old stock off the Co-op and held the door open as the directors left for the last time - thats how I reckon it happened, it was "hey you want rid of this record loss making endeavour, we'll take it off your hands if you walk away and don't come back".

You spend 30 seconds in the entrance to the store and you realise that TJ Hughes aren't interested in selling you a shopping experience, but they are interested in cramming all of their cheap stock in there and selling it to you at prices so low as to defy logic.

So in an area that is still all shelved up and signed up as "Gentlemens Suits" you find handbags and perfume, a "lingerie" stand is displaying a 32" lcd tv at a price that suggests that even Eric down the pub couldn't lay his hands one that cheap - TJ Hughes didn't even bother to remove the Co-op signs and shelf edge notices, so you ignore them and learn to look at the merchandise instead and revel in this new method of shopping where you haven't a clue what will appear on the next display cabinet for there is no logic, a dvd recorder and tv combination sits happily on the same display as a load of perfume and why not buy your tv and perfume together, it makes perfect sense when you think of it - doesn't it ?

We shopped in there for perfume for the two offspring, we felt dirty, we should have been paying £30 and £40 for a bottle of the latest Paris Hilton or Victoria Beckham perfumes but instead we handed over five hard earned pounds for the boxed sets and then had the cheek to get 50% knocked off the cheapest item "buy one get one half price" as if they weren't cheap enough already.

It was hard to spend £50 in there, to spend £50 you need a long line of sherpa's to carry all of the goods to the till, I don't think that anyone has spent £50 and walked out of there without need of a truck since it opened, but thats what we spent and our girls will open their presents on xmas day and think that we must have spent at least a grand on them, and of course, we will let them think that too.

TJ Hughes in Bradford city centre, you'll feel dirty about yourself, but by god you'll save some money.

1 comment:

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