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TRAGO MILLS - "More than you bargain for" ----------------------------------------------------------- Mum: I think we should maybe decorate the bathroom next… Dad: Yes OK then would you like to pop down to Trago at the weekend? Mum: Yeah that sounds good Little Fluffy: Can we have some toys? Sister: Can we have some sweets? Mum and Dad: No, we are going to look at a new bathroom suit. Little Fluffy + Sister: *sulks* Little Fluffy: Can we feed the ducks? Mum: Yeah if we have time Sister: Can we have some toys? Mum and Dad: No
Every trip to Trago resulted in an exciting flurry of questions. I loved Trago when we had a few pounds to spend on pens, pencils, pocket toys and sweets. We could get so much more for our money compared to most high street stores.
On our way down the A38 we couldn't help but sing the ditty "Trago Mills has a great deal happening…so get on down to Trago Mills". It still appears on the radio today for that gentle nudge towards a shopping visit!
Trago started out in the 1960's as a small shed in Liskeard, South East Cornwall. The founder Mike Robertson bought a selection of items 'up country' and sold them in this shed. The store was designed to sell cheap, affordable products to the locals of Cornwall. Mike Robertson is a well known supporter and has broken many trading laws in the past by insisting to open on Sundays and ignore the metric ruling.
The store has expanded and has another two stores in Newton Abbot, Devon and Falmouth, Cornwall. For anyone living in Wales there are currently plans to expand into Merthyr
Tydfil by late 2009. The plans for this new store can be found at www.tragomills.co.uk
THE STORE ------------------ The store is nestled in the idyllic Glynn Valley situated on the A38 between Liskeard and Bodmin. The store is open between 9am and 5:30pm on a Monday to Friday and10am and 4pm on a Sunday (opens at 9:30am for viewing).
The car park has ample parking spaces (over 1000) although we have found that when visiting the store on a Sunday car parking can be a little stressful. I have seen a few cases of road rage where two people have had an ugly disagreement about spaces.
PRODUCTS AND PRICES ------------------------------------ The store is very well organised with clearly labelled departments. There is a large garden and outdoors department on the ground floor with affordable plants and furniture. I enjoy shopping in the pet section as I know I can get affordable pet care items at a fraction of the high street prices.
Also on the ground floor is a selection of DIY, Car maintenance, CD, DVD and Book products neatly arranged and easy to find. My only real compliant is that the book, CD and DVD collection is stuck in the past and it is impossible to find a modern book/film.
On the second floor there is a huge stationary department which sells a selection of gift cards, gift wrap and small porcelain/glass/wooden gifts. I stock up on all my paper, pens, pencils and folders as it is a lot better priced than in a more established stationary store.
As a child I remember going to Trago Mills to pick my carpet for my bedroom, or wallpaper and the selection was amazing. I would say that Trago easily compares to the national chain stores such as Homebase, MFI and IKEA.
The prices are very good and on average the prices are about 5%-15% less for electrical and entertainment goods, 20%-30% less for furniture, garden equipment and DIY goods, clothes and stationary is about 30%-50% less than most high street/large chain stores.
The most attractive feature is the ability to buy brand name clothes, sport equipment or electrical good at a fraction of the price. I managed to find a gorgeous Levi leather jacket for £10.99 and a set of Panasonic speakers for only £2.99 and they work a treat.
►Bunk Bed - £69.99 (Argos £119.99) ►Leather Boots - £19.99 (Clarks £60) ►Ainsley Harriet Book - £2.95 (Waterstones £8.99) ►Stickers 59p (Ham and Sewell £1.99) ►Fimo Clay 99p (Ham and Sewell £1.79) ►Hamster Cage £9.99 (Local Pet store £22.99) ►Hamster bedding 79p (Wilkinsons 99p)
The above prices are just a quick reference guide so that you can compare the prices.
PAYING ------------ Due to the large size of Trago Mills and the many checkout points in the building there is a system in process where receipts are checked and stamped to prevent theft. The store takes theft seriously and has a life size cut out of a policeman reminding customers of how many criminals have been caught and prosecuted that month. This cardboard cut out also offers any thief a 'free ride home in a police car'.
At the moment customers can only use debit/credit cards when they spend over £10 although the store also accept cheques, vouchers and cash. Bags are also charged at 2p for a small carrier or 5p for a large carrier. It is therefore advisable that you take your own bag.
OTHER INFORMATION --------------------------------- The store is situated in a large wooden area with a number of food outlets and burger vans. The Fit 't' Bust kiosk sell a range of cheap, tasty fast food. We often stop off here for a cheap lunch (sausage, chips, cheese and curry sauce with a can for less than £3) and eat it by the Fowey River in the picnic area.
There is also a great deal on a cooked "Early Shopper" breakfast in the Keg and Kettle restaurant for only 99p so if you plan to get there early to avoid queues this is a very good deal. There is a small aviary with a nearby pond with Koi Carp near the restaurant so eating is a real pleasure, especially during the summer months.
There are a number of small outlets selling local foods such as pasties or local farm produce. There is also a mobile phone store and newsagents.
SUMMARY ----------------- Overall Trago Mills is a great department store for those on a tight budget when decorating or redesigning a new home. In fact when I move into my new home with my partner all of our stuff will be purchased in Trago saving us hundreds of pounds.
My partner is a plumber and happily buys his overalls, equipment and materials from the store without worrying about quality. I love to stock up on any equipment I may need and know that I can save £20-£50 each time compared to a trip to a high street store.
Trago Mills does get a bad press as the 'poor mans store' but although the stuff is cheap the quality is not compromised. If you plan to visit Cornwall or Devon in the near future don't miss out on a trip to Trago Mills, you never know what you may find.