Friday, 2 August 2013

Step back in time...

I must admit, I don’t often go into Kettering town centre anymore.

So when I went there this week the parking charges in the short stay car park behind Marks and Spencer came as a bit of a shock – £3.40 for three hours.  I only wanted to park in it, not buy shares in it!

But seriously, this isn’t going to be a monologue about the cost of parking, although perhaps the council would like to consider how expensive that is compared to the cost of parking in the out of town developments?  Hardly a level playing field for the retailers is it? Ahem, moving on.

This got me thinking about how Kettering town centre has changed over the years, and I’d like to take you on a trip down memory lane, as I’m sure many local people reading this will remember the old shops the same as I do.

The Co-op on Montagu Street – you could just about get everything you needed in there.  Electricals, carpets, curtains, shoes, clothes – it was a proper department store.

Opposite was Burton’s Hardware – a fantastic shop, much missed I’m sure.  I remember buying a kettle in there about 10 years ago, and being given a hand-written receipt and I think it was either wrapped in brown paper or put in a large paper bag, can’t remember which, but both totally recyclable.

Then on Newland Street you had the Button Boutique and Phillips – great for people who liked sewing and making their own clothes etc.

On Silver Street you had Chalkleys which I remember being an official school uniform supplier, and Capps, which marketed itself as a ‘walkround store’ which used to amuse me as a child because most stores you could walk around, but I guess this harked back to a time where you stood in front of a counter and pointed at the goods you wished to purchase.

All of these stores have now gone, which seems a shame.  A little bit of retail history gone for ever, like Woolworths – which I seem to remember had a deli counter as well as a glorious pick ‘n’ mix range of sweets.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though, because I did discover a little gem of a shop that I didn’t previously know about.

Flashbacks on High Street is in what I think used to be Harwayes (the underwear shop which also sold ballet shoes – remember that?).

Flashbacks sells memorabilia-type products, from Star Trek lunch-tins – wouldn’t the ‘Big Bang Theory’ boys love those?! – to film products like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe merchandise, and various music-themed items (the Sex Pistols drink coasters caught my eye!) and retro band T-shirts amongst many others.

It really is a lovely little store, very reasonably priced, and I hope it does well.  It cheered me up to see an independent high-street shop offering something different – and yes, I did buy something in there, and no, I’m not being sponsored by them before you ask!

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