There are certain places that evoke some deep-seated memories, aren’t there? If I drive down a certain road I’ll remember an old friend who lived there, if I go anywhere near the Midlands I remember bits of my university experience, and if I go to the shops near my parents’ I remember being a teenager, having a half-day at the end of the school term and hopping on the bus with my friends to go and saturate ourselves in White Musk body spray at the Body Shop and try on different outrageous shades of nail polish.
We’d walk, arm-in-arm, down the main drag, giggling and squealing as we ran character assassinations on our poor teachers, or discussed the boys at the school next door. I remember the optimism for our futures, the freedom of being so grown-up that we were out without our mums, the hopefulness that whatever we were buying would turn us into whatever it was we wanted to be.
In honour of their high street affiliate scheme, Quidco asked me to write a post naming three things that I loved about the high street – things that make me ‘high street happy’. In this current era of internet shopping and being time-poor – especially as a self-employed mum of two small children – it sometimes feels like too much of a commitment to go to the actual shops, but when I do make the effort to go I often find a reward of some kind that makes me high street happy all over again.
1 – It’s an indulgence! If I can ever get away from my children it can feel like a real treat to go to the shops, to be allowed to browse freely, enjoy the diaspora of people and sights and food. Especially living here, in Oxfordshire, where my closest big high street is Oxford itself, a trip to the shops becomes a real outing, where high street shops mingle with high culture and historic architecture. If you add in a good friend it can be a reminder of those heady teenage days when time ran slowly through your fingers, the future was entirely unplotted and trying on different clothes allowed you to become a different person.
2 – It’s sometimes more time-efficient. The internet is touted as a quick and easy way to get the item you need, which is fine if you’re buying a book, or a saucepan, or the same jeans in the same size as you got last time, but if you’re just browsing, or unsure of the sizes, you can easily lose hours and hours without making any decisions.
I was looking for a winter coat a month or two ago, hoping to get something in the sales. In the end I had to buy four or five different styles in different sizes because I wasn’t sure how large they would come up. Can you believe, not a single bloody one of them fit so I had to re-package them all and post them back. It would have been far easier to pop along to the high street and try them on in person – not to mention easier on the wallet – until I got the refunds I was nearly £600 out of pocket!
3 – You get happy accidents! Some of my most favourite purchases have been something that I stumbled across when looking for something else entirely. A glorious necklace when you’re shopping for a hat, a fabulous pair of shoes when you went looking for a dress. It’s like a sort of shopping alchemy that only happens when you’re right in front of the products and they can divine exactly what you’d like. Even better when the item that leaps out at you is your size, in the sales, absolutely perfect for you and you’d never have found it if you hadn’t been right there where you were. The buzz you get is like a teenage crush and, just like number 1, for a moment it feels like anything is possible again.
Do any of these ring a bell? What makes you #highstreethappy? Let me know in the comments or come chat to me on Twitter.
This post was written in collaboration with Quidco to promote Quidco High Street.