The closure of the Lewis’s Department store in Liverpool made me think about all the high street names which have disappeared over the years. Lewis’s in Liverpool was the remaining branch of a once dominating empire for the retailer. It’s other stores throughout the UK  in closed many years ago, but the original store in Liverpool managed to cling on.

One area which has seen the biggest change is our supermarkets. Do you remember the small supermarkets Liptons and Lo-Cost? Other names that have vanished are International, Gateway , Presto, Normid, MacFisheries, Food Giant,Cordon Bleu and Fine Fare and more recently Kwik Save and Safeway.

Other well known household names to go were from the electrical shops such as Rumbelows who finally closed it’s doors in 1995, Colourvision and Miller Brothers. Before the 1990’s it was fairly normal to rent your television rather than buy it. This was mainly due to the cost  of the sets. When they became more affordable, people stopped renting them and and bought them outright. This change from renting to buying ultimately saw the demise of Radio Rentals and Granada television rental shops. Tandy, the electronics component and computer store started to retail more consumer electronics and mobile phones in the early 1990’s. Subsequently it was sold to Carphone Warehouse in 1995. All the stores were either changed to Carphone Warehouse or closed.

On the subject of mobile phones, who could forget the bright yellow shops called Peoples Phone. They were bought out by Vodafone Retail and turned into Vodafone shops.

Do you remember when nearly every large town also had a Gas Showroom selling cookers, central heating and power showers. There was also the “Electric Shop” which was a branch of your local Electric Board franchise – in my area it was Norweb or Manweb. At both of these you could pay your bills ath the counter or discuss customer service issues face to face. A far cry from the automated menu systems we speak to over the phone today.

Do you wonder what happened to the Happy Eater roadside cafes? Well, after a series of takeovers it ended up in the hands of Granada – the owners of Little Chef.

This may however not be a brand that is gone forever as according to it’s Wikipedia page, there is a rumour Happy Eater is making a comeback in 2010.

Clothes shops have not escaped losses either. with C&A (remember Clock House and Canda Suits?) withdrawing from the UK to concentrate on it’s European operations, other names to vanish are Chelsea Girl, Snob and Fosters Menswear.

“Record” shops suffered badly as the Internet became more popular. Our Price, Music Zone and Virgin Megastores later known as Zavvi have all fallen off their perch. Do you remember whn Boots the Chemist used to sell records?

Shoe shops haven’t fared well in recent times. The high street has witnessed the loss of Freeman Hardy Willis, Dolcis, Manfield, Saxone, Hush Puppies and Olivers.

The Dolcis brand may still be on the high street, but it’s new owners Stylo Barratt are in the process of re-branding them all as Barratts shoe shops.

Timpsons also stopped selling shoes to concentrate on their shoe repair and key cutting business.

The banks have seen turbulent times recently with Lloyds and TSB merging as did Halifax and the Bank of Scotland. A few years earlier The Royal Bank of Scotland bought out the NatWest. Remember Girobank? That was merged with the Alliance & Leicester. Now part of the banking giant Santander who also took over Abbey National and Bradford & Bingley. HSBC swallowed up the Midland Bank (who can forget their Griffin Savers account with the dictionary, bag and other goodies?) and the Royal Bank of Scotland absobed Williams & Glyn’s bank.

The main drain of my pocket money in the early 80’s were two shops. Toy & Hobby and Beatties Models. They were both magical places. My local branch of Toy & Hobbywas in Stockport and covered several floors. It had every conceivable toy you could think of. My local Beatties was in Manchester just by the underground “Market Centre”. It stocked everything the young model railway enthusiast could ever want.

Another worthy of a mention is cut price jewelers Ratners which closed down in 1992 after it’s owner Gerald Ratner made his famous speech to the Institute of Directors in 1991 in which he said:

We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95.

People say, “How can you sell this for such a low price?”, I say, “because it’s total crap”.

I’m nearing the end of my list of shops I remember but we can also mourn the loss of John Menzies, Dewhusts the Master Butcher, Littlewoods Index, Fads and WHSmith Do It All (youtube ad below!).

Do you know of any more I’ve missed? Did you work for any of these? Please let me know and share your memories below.

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