There are some things we do on the island that are the biggest and/or best. Cheese? Best in the world. Chess Bradley, writer? Best in the world. Great Laxey Wheel? Biggest and best in the world.
While our high street may not be the biggest (nor best) in the world, it’s certainly got a soft spot in our hearts. Heading down to Strand Street (otherwise known as town) to have a nosey is one of the highlights of the weekend. Sure, the stock of shops might be limited, but we’ll just call that an artisanal selection. There is such a luxury in being able to touch, feel and try on clothes before buying them, instead of ordering something, waiting almost a week for it to arrive, only to then be disappointed when the fabric is basically translucent and shows off all your lockdown rolls.
Strand Street might be small, but it’s a manageable size. Even when it is chocka, it’ll never compare to the horror of a Saturday afternoon in Manchester’s gargantuan Primark. Delightfully, the street is long enough to allow you to justify to yourself that you’ve “done enough steps for a coffee and a cake”. If you’re feeling a bit cheeky, an afternoon bev with your shopping is a bit of fun, until you realise you’ve been sat in the pub for hours and are about to head off to the OB with three carrier bags. Better make use of that cloak room, lads.
Of course, town isn’t just for the weekend. If you work in the financial capital of the island, you’ll know that town is the place to go to clear your head during lunch hours. Grab a butty and then go have a look for something to wear for going out this weekend- or for the home birds among us- a new caddy for the kitchen sink. It’s the height of the glamorous retail experience; Harrod’s eat your heart out.
While we all love injecting a bit of cash into the local economy, there’s something to be said about window shopping- especially in those tight days before pay day. Head to Flannel’s and cry when you see a handbag that costs as much as your monthly salary, or, if you’re like me and your ultimate fantasy is home ownership, look in the estate agent’s windows and imagine what it’d be like to live in a six bed home with four acres. There was, of course, once joy at looking in the travel agents window, but it’s now been replaced with longing and sadness. Honestly I just feel like pure sh*t, want me hols back x
There has been an added sadness walking through town lately, with the loss of the high street giants such as Topshop. The gorgeous, glass-fronted building now stands barren: a true loss to all the young women on-island. Topshop was the perfect place for when you needed an emergency outfit for a party (which, inevitably, will be worn by someone else at the party). Topshop jeans were the staple of any self-respecting young woman’s wardrobe: you can tell a lot about a person from whether they wear Jamie or Leigh jeans. With limited other options, where will we head? Will we have to take out massive loans to go to Flannels? Will we all have to knit our own night-out garms?
With further uncertainty about other high street shops, it’s a dire time to be a shopaholic. Walking through Strand Street will be utterly depressing if it’s just a bunch of empty shops. With our high street being full of independent eateries, maybe it’s time we start filling it with indie boutiques?