My local Debenhams has shut its doors for the final time and I’m already missing it. Many other locals feel the same.
Debenhams has been around since well before I was a little girl. I would tightly hold on to my mum’s hand, eyeballs popping out of my head as I got dragged around Canterbury and into what to me was the most magical place in England: Lefevres, the city’s premier department store, which later became an even more magical Debenhams!
The best bit was on Saturdays, when, as my dad and brothers sat at home shouting at the wrestling on TV, Mum and I slipped out to the store and had “a treat” in their “restaurant” – a scoop of ice cream in a stainless steel bowl with a wafer. Yes a wafer! And, even better, all while my brothers were missing out!
I felt so privileged. So special. A secret! Plus Mum got to snaffle enough free sugar sachets to keep her in sweet cups of tea for months!
There’s no hiding, though, why the long, slow demise of Debenhams has resulted in its death on the high street.
For years I’ve visited my local store, mainly to use the loo, it has to be said, while in the middle of shopping elsewhere. And if the state of the public conveniences is anything to go by, it seems most customers are doing the same - having a wee, before spending a penny in a more appealing location.
Browsing on my way to use the loos, I saw shelves and racks and floors populated with clothes and goods I wouldn’t dream of buying; a cheap-looking, chaotic bazaar that suggests no one had a single idea who its customers were and what they’d want to buy, let alone a plan to revive their interest in it.
Daily Mirror news
My local store is set in a London borough populated by a healthy mix of age, colour and class. Lots of young families, working families, all sitting side by side with the not-so-young or well-off. Wouldn’t you think they’d stock schoolwear, then, for example? Not a sign of it.
I could go on, but I haven’t the heart to rub Debenhams’ nose in what must already be a terrible stink for them.
It certainly is in their loos, which sadly, are the only aspect of the ailing store us locals are going to miss spending a penny in.