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The Flat Cap on ... Pound Shops

The Flat Cap recently came across a story of a woman in Nottingham who had been barred from her local branch of Poundland after hitting a shop worker with a sieve. After reading the puns about the court case having too many holes and the breach of the store assistant’s “sieval liberties” The Flat Cap decided to find out a little bit more about the rise of pound shops, and why they have grown in popularity over recent years.

The best bit about these single price-point outlets is that you don’t have to ask the price of anything, although many people still do. Maybe it’s just to wind up store assistants, or perhaps it is because the concept of everything for a pound is too difficult to grasp for some people. Either way the number of store workers taking time off with stress related conditions is on the increase. This is largely down to having to constantly repeat the phrase, “yes, it’s a pound” to disbelieving shoppers. Imagine being put in a shop surrounded with bargains and then having to spend the next eight hours explaining the self-evident pricing structure to consumers day after day and you too would be tearing your hair out by the end of the first week.

Apart from the pricing structure the best bit about pound shops is the variety of items on offer. You can get a lot of your weekly shop from one of these stores and often they sell famous brands as well as those you’ve never heard of. As well as food, drinks, sweets, confectionery, batteries and toiletries, you can even buy clothes from some pound shops. The Flat Cap bought himself a t-shirt and some new underpants from one of these stores and so far neither of them have shrunk or caused any chafing. Just to be on the safe side however The Flat Cap also bought a large bottle of fabric softener. It cost a pound, and as well as keeping his underpants soft it also smells nice.

It’s also never been cheaper to amuse your cat or dog with pound toys, and as long as the animals don’t have any serious food allergies you can also get them some reasonably priced sachets, or tins, of food. At these prices The Flat Cap was thinking of getting a dog, until he remembered that they also need training, plenty of exercise and the cost of vets’ bills.

Pound shops are so interesting that the BBC ran two whole series of programmes on them. Pound Shop Wars focussed on Poundworld and its rivals and showed how fierce the competition was between it, and similar stores with similar names. The best episode was when the chain launched a bra that sold for just £1. Ian, the Burnley store's assistant manager, called it a "breastseller" (and that was arguably his best pun of the series). Despite Ian’s rubbish marketing slogan the company sold 700,000 of them. Mrs. Simpson, who owns the cake shop next to the dry cleaners, bought one and said she found it tighter than the margins in the bargain shops sector. The Flat Cap thinks Mrs. Simpson is funnier than Ian, plus she sometimes discounts any unsold cream cakes in the last half hour of business.

Whilst walking round his local Poundworld store The Flat Cap got chatting to a lady called Ivy who was buying some tins of curry sauce, and she shared the following pound shop related facts:

  • A drunken driver in Dunfermline, Scotland was banned from driving for twelve months and fined £400. In his defence he claimed to have purchased a test-yourself drink test from Poundworld. He told his solicitor that many times he had passed that self-certified test, and genuinely thought he was fit to drive

  • Both Poundland and Poundworld’s Facebook pages each have over four million likes

  • Sometimes fights break out in pound shops because there aren’t enough bargains to satisfy everyone. Whenever there is a promotion Ivy suggested that you try to take a big burly friend with you, or someone clever who can cause a distraction whilst you grab the merchandise you want

  • Famous people like footballer Wayne Rooney and television’s Masterchef judge Greg Wallace met their partners whilst searching for reasonably priced comestibles in a pound shop

  • Some pound shops allow you to shop online for items and they then deliver to your home (but the cost of delivery is more than the item)

  • The first person to open a shop that sold nothing but bargain basement goods was Frank Winfield Woolworth

  • If pound shop deals aren’t big enough bargains in themselves you can often get discount voucher codes to reduce the prices further

  • The nation’s favourite actress and comedienne Caroline Aherne narrated the BBC series Pound Shop Wars, and used the same voice as she did when she was Mrs. Merton

  • As well as pound shops there is now a £1,000 shop in Mayfair, London. Every item in there costs a thousand pounds

  • When thinking up a name for a new pound shop always use the word “pound” first followed by another word, and then join them together to make a new word. This lets people know how much things are likely to cost

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