I had a minor win on the lottery at the weekend, and I was at a loss as to how to invest my winnings- a luxury pork pie, or a giant Toblerone? I decided that it had been too long since I attempted the noble art of trying to eat a chocolate bar the size of my leg, so I opted for the Toblerone. Only when walking down the high street did I realise that there was no such outlet for giant chocolate bars anymore. Woolworths had died, and no-one had opted to take over the mantle to supply the nation with oversized confectionary. Or had they? I was advised by a friend to try the City Market, and that I did. I’ve always found that a visit to the market is always like walking into a portal that takes you back twenty years. I’d say Steve Jobs has a lot of work to do with this demographic- Touchscreen tills are an evil science in this environment, and the sight of an etch-a-sketch has been known to cause epilepsy amongst its users.
That was never the case in Woolworths. It blended haberdashery with garden strimmers seamlessly, while obliging a receipt with each purchase. I think the trouble with Wollies and its untimely demise, was the size of its stores. Vagabonds could hide just about anywhere in its stores, and unless the security guards were hide and seek experts (which often they weren’t), you’re going to be able to steal ping-pong tables left, right and centre. Further chaos staff had to contend with would be controlling the hoards of tramps pissing over flumps in the pick and mix; all this while trying to help pensioners find Celene Dion’s Greatest Hits on cassette in the bargain bin.
Argos seems to struck the balance right. Having nothing for people to touch, and then laminating the catalogues in case someone does decide to eject piss over them. However, sadly for me, Argos don’t sell Toblerone, and nor did the market.