Today I visited a local newsagent's for what will be the final time. It's a newsagent's which has occupied the same premises for over 50 years and one which I've been using since I was a young kid. True, it's changed hands over the years, and it adopted a 'mini-market' approach several years back (getting a refit to accommodate its new status), but I mainly used its latter incarnation to buy a newspaper now and again. It simply couldn't compete with a nearby One-O-One store and closed its doors and shutters today - forever.
The comics and books I got from there over the decades (when it sold them) were legion and legendary. FANTASTIC, WHAM!, various DC & MARVEL mags, WHIZZER & CHIPS, KNOCKOUT, The CLANGERS (a colouring book), The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL, SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY, a couple of TV COMIC Annuals (1978 & '84, which I've still got) and no doubt countless others which I've forgotten. The shop has been a regular part of my life for most of it, man and boy, and it's sad to see it go the way of so many other shops in my home town which were once such familiar features to me.
So yet another one bites the dust, and I suddenly feel very sad and very old. Did I say the final time? I will visit the shop again, but, alas, only in memory. It seems like that's where all the best places are these days. Is it the same for you? The comments section awaits.
I meant to say, one of the things I missed in the shop's later years was that its big windows were covered by full-length interior adhesive posters. When I was a kid, they were filled with toys and books, and it was always interesting to look at the window display in passing when the place was closed for the day. That way, if anything took my fancy, I could nip 'round the next morning and buy it. When the shop was refitted, new shelves blocked access to the windows from the inside, hence them never being used again to display any of the goods for sale within. Wasn't a change I liked, and it probably didn't help the shop's fortunes in the long run.
Y'know, I still have dreams to this day (as I have for many a year now) where I'm standing outside the shop looking through the window at all sorts of goodies. Then I go inside and it's the same layout as it was when I was much younger, and I'm looking at various comics and toys and trying to make up my mind as to precisely which ones I want (or can afford). I guess it's my subconscious mind's way of re-creating long-vanished (and dearly cherished) moments from the days of my expired youth.
|The last three items I bought on the day - duly consumed|
It's always sad when another part of our childhood gets taken away from us. Most of the shops where I used to buy my comics are long gone, but I can still remember them very clearly.
Our local Woolworths, which was my one-stop shop for Dalek toys etc, probably shut forty years ago, and I still miss it. Every time I pass the restaurant where it used to be, an image of Woolies circa 1966 always overlays the current façade. The memories are good, but always tinged with sadness.
We ARE getting old, us kids of the 60s, but I'm buggered if I'm gonna let so-called "progress" grind me down.
Chin up, mate.
The newsagent where I got my first ever Beano and Dandy comics has now been converted into a house.
The newsagent we visited most days after school (Dickinson's, or "Dicko's" colloquially) is now a juice bar.
The newsagent nearest my old house where I used to get giant tins of cream soda and old back issues changed hands when its owner died, and is now a mini-market.
HOWEVER - the newsagent where we had a standing order for the Beano, the Dandy, Buster, Ren & Stimpy, Spine Chillers, Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Sonic The Comic and so many more over the years, most weeks accompanied by a bag of liquorice torpedoes and a packet of pogs - that one's still standing and mostly unchanged (besides the obvious lack of comics). For now at least!
Our Woolworths closed in 2009 and is now an Iceland store, MC. Woolies had been in the same premises since it opened in the '60s, and I got many good toys in there over the years, quite a few of which I've subsequently replaced over the last three decades. Bought some Cherilea Daleks there back in the '60s, and some remote-control Daleks a few years before it closed. (I remember buying a Herts Plastic Moulders Dalek in a Woolworths in Rutherglen around '66 or so. The same one where I got a Thunderbird 3 playset in the late '90s or early '00s.) Woolies was a great shop.
Out of over a dozen newsagents from my childhood (in my home town), THB, I can think of only two or three which are still there, albeit in drastically altered form. I made a point of photographing the interior of one particular shop a few years ago, because it was largely the same as it had been when I was a kid. Within a couple of years it had changed hands and had a refit, which I had anticipated, hence me taking the photos. I now wish I'd taken pics of all of them, but they were changed or closed with little or no advance warning. (I only found out about the local one closing when I was in on Saturday and noticed that it was low on stock. When I asked why, I was told 'Tomorrow's our last day.')
Whenever I am near any retail center of a certain size the Newsagents is always the first place I seek out, sad to say the two nearest to where we currently live shut down with two months of each other last year, replaced by even more of those bloody phone stores and (do we need?) another fashion outlet. Childhood associations with newsagents will always be tied to comics but as an adult I'd get my fix of movie, pop culture and classic rock mags. Fortunately the two bookshops that still remain do sell a variety of graphic novels, collected comic volumes and book on comics - all overpriced of course compared to the price for the same online. The tax on books in this country (Australia) is absolutely criminal. A government plot to foster illiteracy and ignorance, if one were at all into conspiracy theories. But I digress - as you say it is like a door shutting, at least in a physical sense to a part of your childhood, but at least there are the comics bought from the place when it was there to take you back in time.
I used to love jumping on and off of buses as a kid and checking local newsagents for comics....it used to be such a random thing...I remember going into one shop and finding Howard the Duck #1 on a spinner rack, and in another Savage Sword of Conan #8 (the first time I was aware of Marvels Black and White Line)....when you were 12 or 13 finding things like these were what made it all worthwhile.
While the internet and comic shops have made it easier to buy stuff, those days of trawling newsagents were often more rewarding simply because of the element of chance....sometimes there would be nothing, other times a spinner rack of goodies!
Amen Vince and Siv - I used to love that too! You never knew what you would find each time you went in there. One of our newsagents just used to stack the comics on a lower shelf so as you sifted through the stack you never knew what cover would be facing up at you next. Good times. Mind you an eBay search can bring up all sorts and you never know if the next bargain my scoll up onto the screen in front of you as you check the results. Not quite the same as comic searching back in the day but it'll have to do.
When I was a kid, PC, there were still quite a few newsagent shops which seemed to come from an earlier era - like something you'd read about in a 'William' book. Wood paneling, jars of sweets on shelves behind the counter, old-fashioned scales for weighing two ounces of Jelly Babies, etc. They seemed magical to me. One was given a modern refit around the mid-'70s (which still seems fairly recent to me) and immediately lost its character and charm (it's now gone), and another closed its doors a few years later. Both fondly recalled by me when I look at comics (or their replacements) I bought there when growing up. As you say, they take me right back in time to a better time and place.
Yeah, V&S, I used to love trekking around the various neighbourhood newsagents (on foot, no buses for me) looking to see what was available on the spinner-racks. One shop might have a selection of DC and Marvel comics, and other shops would have the issues either before or after the ones you'd just bought in the previous shop. Nothing beat the sense of satisfaction at the end of the quest, when one would sit down with a pile of comics to read and enjoy. As you say, in many ways it was more rewarding than the manner in which readers acquire their comics today.
As I lived in several towns (going to school in one and living in various others) I had several newsagents that I would regularly pop into for my comic book fix as a kid/ teenager. Most are actually still going including my main newsagent when I was in my teens , R S McColls (Rutherglen Main Street) strangely my main newsagents in 3 other towns I used to live in (including my current home) are all closed but the others are still operating as newsagents.
Those that are closed are now hairdressers, mini marts or fast food carry out “restaurants” Of course the legendary “Johnny’s” closed a while ago (can’t recall what it is now) – to be honest it doesn’t really bother me if a shop “goes” as no newsagent really sells that many comics nowadays and I rarely buy a newspaper (plus there are always shops that you can get that stuff from ) I do however get a nostalgic twinge now and then for that time and for when comics rules the roost (for kids at least) but not for a bricks and mortar premises – I do get disheartened when the 5th £1 shop or charity shop opens up in a town though (and there are lots of both in the UK)
I meant to add it's good to read (as Vince and Siv note) that others also used to pop on and off the bus to check out random newsagent for comics , I found in my area so many comics on sales US and UK from doing that , sadly there are no "newsagnets" that really sell comics now other than the Simpsons, Beano etc.
Ah, the famous JOHNNY'S - now there was a shop! The last time I was in the neighbourhood, PM, it was a florists, but that was a few years back. You could still see the outline of the name under a new coat of paint. Does the newsagent's in Rutherglen Main Street still look the same as when you were a teenager, or has it suffered a 'refit'? I get a nostalgic twinge for the time when comics ruled the roost AND the bricks and mortar - they're inextricably linked in my mind.
Sadly it has had a refit (as have all R S McColls newsagents). To be fair its probably a lot better now as it sells food and seems noce and tidy - Blue is now the main colour it used to be red - and Birrells newsagnets seem to have all disappeared (not sure that was just a Rutherglen/Glasgow shopping group or Scotland/ UK wide
At least four (that I know of) R.S. McColls have disappeared from my town over the last few years, PM - I'm not sure if there are any left at all, but it once had quite a prominent presence. Sperrings used to be a popular one in England, I believe (used to pop in all the time when I lived in Southsea), but I don't know if that chain still exists either.
I was thinking about where I bought comics just the other day, and I realized that I usually left an area before I had to go through the "it's no longer there" phase. When I was a wee lad my Grandfathers each had a local shop that they took us to that sold comics, along with newspapers, candy, and, in one case, food! They were in New York, specifically Queens and Brooklyn, and we would visit about once a year from Minnesota. Both Granddads passed away before the places that they took us changed. In Minnesota it was hit or miss as far as occasionally going to places that sold comics, and I was always super excited when someplace did and would pester the parents to purchase a bunch for me or to allow me to purchase them for myself. In Junior High I was able to take a bus into the city once a month and purchased comics in a bookstore that one had to go downstairs from the street into. It was mostly a headshop and had a blacklight poster room in the back. I was fascinated with the place and looked forward to my visits. I moved to New York before it ever changed and found a bookstore behind the bar I worked at on Long Island that sold comics. Picked them up regularly, and it actually wasn't as much of an adventure any longer. I left there to go to school before it changed. Now I buy online if at all. I changed and the quality of the comics changed. I DO have a comic shop near me, but they have a "leave your backpack at the counter" policy, and I am a bike rider. I don't ride without a backpack, and I don't need their product enough to go through the hassle.
One of my biggest regrets, Kenn, is that so many shops from my childhood and teenage years are no longer around. There's something to be said for that comforting feeling of going into a shop (or any place I suppose) as an adult that one frequented as a kid, and being surrounded by familiar environs. It makes 'yesterday' seem not quite so far away. Another regret (if it can be called that) is no longer being able to go into the houses of friends one had as a youth because they've moved or died. Wasn't U.N.C.L.E.'s headquarters reached by going downstairs off the street and into a tailor's shop? You must've felt like a secret agent going into that bookstore.
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