We are currently in a time where businesses are adjusting how they operate – with some even having to close their doors. While this is a stressful era for many proprietors, it is perhaps time to enjoy a little nostalgia and cast our minds back to eight Stoke-on-Trent shops of yesteryear we loved and sadly lost.
- Fantasy World
Starting with this shop is also a nod to a once bustling arcade in the centre of Hanley which has long since been replaced with the sprawling TK Maxx. Sat proudly at the top of this arcade was Fantasy World – a home of all things cult, sci-fi and for what many will remember it for – consoles and games. It’s important to state here that this store since became Forbidden Planet and continues to operate on Stafford Street, but this is a look back to the new business’ ancestor. It was in a pretty tight space but that didn’t stop the staff packing out every last inch in a feat of shop design which would no doubt have been given the thumbs up by Mary Portas. You could go in armed with all the games you had completed (or just plain given up with) and come out with…well usually one, but you still felt like Del Boy trying to do a deal.
This city centre stalwart had been in Hanley for 102 years up until 2016 when the closed sign was turned for good. An impressive looking building played host to books of virtually every subject and you felt more intelligent for just wandering around the place. It wasn’t just books that the store had in abundance, but also arts and crafts to keep even the most dedicated designer happy.
Remember when everyone loved roller skates? No, it wasn’t 1970s America, but 1990s Stoke-on-Trent. Anyone wanting to deck out their Bauer Turbos would head to RollerSnakes for their cheese blocks, hockey socks and two-tone wheels. If that means nothing to you, I’ll just leave it there….
- Stolen From Ivor
As a youngster the name always baffled me. At a younger age I even questioned the very legality of shopping there. With its shops in Hanley and Newcastle, Stolen From Ivor was a true staple of denim and all the baggy delights of the 1990s.
Clothes? CD? Sweets? Tools? Woolworths had it. The collapse of this chain had a pretty dire impact in North Staffordshire with the store taking up some pretty sizeable units in the area – with the branch in Longton still showing the old sign right up until this year as it remained empty 12 years after the closure. There was something slightly sad about the sales Woolworths had towards the end with the Hanley store virtually pillaged of everything but the fixtures and fittings. My memory will be standing at the back of the store waiting for Chesney Hawkes to appear after he’d done a signing at the store.
- Meigh’s Radio and TV
Way before the days of ordering everything online and just a few electrical stores remaining, the Potteries would have lots of independent stores. This was the time when there was no internet so if you wanted a TV it would take a day to find one as you trawled the stores looking for the best deal as your dad would chance his arm with a ‘how much for cash?’. A question that would now truly bemuse a national retailer. One such independent store selling home entertainment was Meigh’s in Hanley, set up by Stan Meigh more than 50 years ago. There was no fancy labelling, with details of the TVs for sale described using pen and paper. Sadly Stan passed away in 2017 with his family vowing to keep it going. The shop remains there today but it’s unclear how much trading goes on there. So this inclusion is more of a tribute to Stan and all those like him.
- Normid and Kwik Save
Kwik Save was everywhere in the Potteries and as a budget supermarket it would probably do rather well in today’s climate. It prided itself on a no-thrills approach where things were kept basic. As I say – looking back it was real pioneer! As a brand it was relaunched in 2012 and is apparently still expanding. But it’s been some time since the logo has been seen in North Staffordshire. And speaking of supermarkets there was also Normid. This took up a big spot in Burslem and also Leek – where the most entertaining part was the ‘travellator’ type entrance.
- Bourne Sports
Enough about stocking up on food – let’s remember some sport. Again, pre-national retailer days, and there were quite a few independent sport shops where you could unearth some real bargains – and very unusual football shirts. Bourne Sports prided itself on a whole variety of equipment and no matter what you were into they could probably oblige.
So while we have looked back on some of the stores we once treasured, perhaps keep in mind those independent shops we still have and show them some support during these challenging times.