Mind the Pennies and the Pounds Will Take Care of Themselves

Pound shops mushroomed in the early nineties, when recession hit Britain. Their merchandise proved so popular that they are now a permanent fixture of any suburban or downmarket high street. And some evolved into chains, think Poundland (www.poundland.co.uk) and £-Stretcher (www.poundstretcher.co.uk), which are the cream of the crop and can be found in some shopping malls.

What is the attraction? Pound shops might sell homeware, toiletries and even foodstuff at knocked-down prices, but why do I feel compelled to go in and I never come out empty handed? And can I resist their seasonal half-price sales? Recent purchases included an evil-smelling rubber hot water bottle, a lurid pink rubber anti-slip math and some DVDs featuring film stars at early stages of their careers (think seasoned turkeys with hammy characters and boring plotlines).

I’m not alone in my madness as these shops are crowded with people ogling the shelves and grabbing heaps of stuff. But do I need more cheap tat in my house? I wonder if I’m just spending money there because stuff is cheap, not because I need it.

Some shops are so sophisticated that they have seasonal lines, like, right now, St Valentine’s presents. I was really surprised to see that all those novelty gifts I had spotted in an upmarket stationer had been ripped off and reproduced with minor quality shortcuts, for example a mug with teddy bear for £1, which cost £6 at the stationer; a slap and tickle set and those furry handcuffs, too, several pounds cheaper. I wonder now if I’m being ripped off elsewhere…

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