Lucy Vickery

Closed shop

In Competition No. 3056 you were invited to submit an elegy on the death of the High Street.
Your entries were poignant and clever, and transported me back to teenage Saturdays frittered away in the likes of Dolcis, Lilly & Skinner and Freeman, Hardy & Willis. John Morrison’s lines ‘Oh Amazon how swift you rise!/ Swamping all before your eyes…’ spoke for many, though J.R. Johnson thinks that the roots of destruction go deeper, pre-dating the advent of the net.
The winners earn £25 each. Bill Greenwell pockets £30.

Hear their doors and cash-tills close,
Play their dirges, sing their blues,
Dolcis Shoes and Bargain Booze,
Ottakar’s and Rumbelows.
Each a loser, once a winner,
Laid low by a store bacillus —
Where are Freeman, Hardy, Willis,
Where is Lilley, where is Skinner?
Soon they’ll vanish altogether
Like Lipton, Dillons, Dunn and Co. —
Even Past Times had to go
With Littlewood’s and Land of Leather.
Where assistants leant and dreamt,
Tumbleweed blows idly through:
Fine Fare, Netto, Comet too —
Even Poundworld’s not exempt.
Bill Greenwell 
Stop all the socks; return the tops and ties,
Prevent the buyers ordering for the stores,
Silence all the shoppers’ protest cries
And grieve, for BHS has locked its doors.
Let Carpetright weave patterns of remorse
And strip its rugs of all their fancy frills,
Tell Toys ‘R’ Us to shroud the rocking horse,
Let Poundworld ditch its coins and close its tills.
They were my life, my joy, my bliss, my all,
My daily jaunts to join the happy throng,
My High Street treasure chests, my shopping mall;
I thought they’d always be there: I was wrong.
Blockbuster, Woolworths, Maplin, all closed down.
Board up windows, whitewash every pane.
Buy goods online and go no more to town.
For nothing now can stir its heart again.
Alan Millard
For years when towns were bound with national chains,
The local shops still reigned on their parade,
Till supermarkets, built on vast domains,
Bought bulk, sold cheap and sucked away their trade.
With butchers rare and grocers obsolete,
All small-scale shops were species under threat,
While any that survived were yet to meet
The toils that would enmesh them from the Net.

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