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Some people have problems writing letters of resignation, some have problems with their CV’s
Me? I have a strong aversion to shopping on a wet Sunday afternoon in a shopping mall that’s mostly dedicated to clothes (aren’t they all?).
Therefore, you can imagine how difficult writing about it is going to be for me, at least. Oh, well, here goes…….
The Clarks Village is a Factory Outlet Centre, in Street, Somerset. Never heard of Street? Think Glastonbury, and shift down the map a bit.
Situated on land that used to be doing something really useful, i.e. making shoes, Clarks decided to make a totally different use of it, and sell things that aren’t made there any more. Them and several dozen other retailers, that is.
First impressions were mixed, bearing in mind that I have to dragged shouting and screaming into anywhere like this (“Has it got a hi-fi or computer shop?” “No? Well I’ll sit in the car then!”). The front car-park, which is a council one must be paid for, which was a bit cheeky, I thought. Being the season of mellow fruitfulness (and leaf-blocked drains), this resembled a lake rather than tarmac in places. The entrance would do justice to a theme park, with a Shopmobility office in the gate-house and electric chairs for the disabled to use.
Once inside, you realise that the place is set up as open air quadrangles with permanent awnings over the sidewalks (Thank God - it kept on trying to rain). Recently built in that predictable mock-Victorian style, it’s a pleasant enough place, if you like shopping, that is. What is it with architects – are they scared of doing something original? You only have to look at all the neo-Edwardian houses with integral garages to answer that one for yourself, I guess.
Anyway, the shops. These consist of many well-known High Street names, Next, Clarks, Thorntons to name but three.
The main unifying point about this place, is that, for the clothes and shoes, at least, it’s a factory outlet site. That is to say, somewhere where “seconds”, “ends of lines” and “over-productions” (or just last year’s styles!) can be sold at a discount of around 30% of the High Street price. Not everyone was boasting huge discounts, but each shop has its pricing policy on a green plaque outside their door, as a reason for being there. Useful.
For example, I went into XS (excess, geddit?) Records to see what they are giving away, but to no avail. Their plaque said something about not being able to stock a full range of current CD’s, but they didn’t seem to be having any difficulty in stocking chart albums. Predictably, only the CD’s I didn’t want were cheap (3 for £20), but DVD’s that I knew the price of were unimpressive. My advice would be – If it’s something you need to try on, shoes, jeans etc, then this place is for you. If not, look on the web.
OK, I admit it, I did buy something. There is a Black & Decker shop, specialising in selling “Factory Refurbs” at good prices. I’m about to start lining our hall floor-boards with hardboard, so the Heavy Duty Stapler and 1500 staples at £24 was a bargain.
Our friends were able to go the Table/Kitchen ware hall, which houses several “stores-within-stores” such as Dartington Glass and Poole Pottery, where they bought some “seconds” of Dartington wine glasses at a huge discount compared to “firsts”, and quite frankly if they go on dropping the damned things at their current rate, they may as well buy “seconds”!
As you may have gathered, I’m no great shopper, and much time was spent sitting on benches, but for the keener amongst you, here are some of the names that have their own store here.
Jaeger, Gossard, Reebok, Clarks, Jacques Vert (Jim Green?), Cotton Traders, Ben Sherman, Monsoon, Suits You (oooh! Sir does look the bees knees, doesn’t Sir?), Van Heusen, Wrangler, Remington, Price’s Candles, Rohan.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and you can see them all at www.clarksvillage.co.uk.
Other facilites include a whole clutch of indoor and “on-the-hoof” eateries, ATM’s, and a children’s play area of swings, slides, and, when supervised, trampolines.
If you’re in the area, with nowt better to do, then you could do worse – I did, I went in!.