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‘Topshop was the epitome of cool’: Guardian readers on the shut-down shops they will miss

The Guardian - Tue May 4 11:18

‘Thorntons was part of my childhood’

I would always visit Thorntons in Birmingham city centre during the summer; it was part of my childhood. My best friend, Jayne, and I used to get ice-cream for the short walk home to Edgbaston – the only time we were silent while we were together. As a child, my favourite flavours were strawberry and toffee fudge, but as an adult, it’s rum and raisin. Jayne still claims Thorntons chocolate is supreme. Sylvia Edwards, director, Birmingham and London

‘Debenhams was the only place that did bras big enough’

Debenhams in Manchester, December 2020.
Debenhams in Manchester, December 2020. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

I’ll miss Debenhams – the only place on the high street that did bras big enough for me … just about, anyway. I’ll have no option but to order online, and that will probably mean returning 90% of what I buy because bra sizing is so inconsistent. Anonymous, Bedford

‘Staff at John Lewis in Sheffield were always friendly and knowledgable’

We have bought all our white goods from John Lewis in Sheffield since we moved to the city 35 years ago. The staff were really friendly, helpful and knowledgable. Our children also went there to spend their birthday and Christmas money in the toy department and then, later on, in the computer department on the top floor. The products were always good quality and lasted for years. Alison Anderson, retired, Sheffield

‘I’m devastated– I’ll never taste Percy Ingle doughnuts again’

Percy Ingle, famed for its baked goods.
Percy Ingle, famed for its baked goods. Photograph: Justin Kase z11z/Alamy

Percy Ingle bakeries have long been a staple in east London – they sold the greatest doughnuts you’ll ever taste and I came back from travelling excited to have one. When I arrived, however, it had gone out of business due to the pandemic. Now, when I walk through Stratford I see the big green shop with its shutters down and I’m devastated that I’ll never get to taste those doughnuts again. Ayo Lana, writer, London

‘I’ll miss Oasis terribly’

Oasis
Oasis ... ‘inexpensive well-made clothes that lasted’. Photograph: Picture That/Alamy

From running there in my lunch break to buying the most perfect dress to wear for my secret wedding, I always found something at Oasis and I’ll miss it terribly. It’s a great loss to the high street: well-made clothes that were not too expensive but looked great and lasted. Its black trousers were my staple for years. Debbie Lee, carer, Bromley

‘Dalhousie was my haven – its closure is a real loss’

There was a cake and coffee shop in Crystal Palace called Dalhousie that was something of a haven for me. When I was freelance, I’d hide away upstairs, mainlining flat whites, ham and cheese croissants and insanely good cakes. I was there so often that the staff would have my order ready as I came through the door, and I’d take breaks from work to chat with the other freelancers. Sadly, because Dalhousie relied on customers who sat and stayed, it didn’t make it through the first lockdown. It’s a real loss. Mark, writer, London

‘You could find beautiful books and vintage crockery in the charity shop’

Even charity shops have closed down during the pandemic ...
Even charity shops have closed down during the pandemic ... Photograph: Jimj0will/Alamy

I miss the charity shops. All different, and always a complete surprise. You could find amazing clothes, beautiful books, vintage crockery and the occasional completely unexpected item. Now, a number of charity shops have had to close down, and we may have to wait a while yet to see how many more are gone for good. Anna Coughlan, retired, Greater Manchester

‘Topshop was a mecca for teenage girls’

Topshop on Oxford Street, London – a magnet for teenage girls.
Topshop on Oxford Street, London – a magnet for teenage girls. Photograph: Alex Segre/Alamy

I was very sad to see the Oxford Street Topshop boarded up. I’m no fan of Philip Green – and now feel far too old now to shop there – but when I was a kid, growing up in the north, Topshop on Oxford Street seemed the epitome of cool. It was gigantic compared with branches in other cities and was a mecca for teenage girls. You had to admire the window displays, the concession stands and the sometimes absurd clothing. Heather Hampson, communications worker, London

‘The Battenberg Badger’s sourdough toasties made my Fridays’

The Battenberg Badger on Holloway Road in north London was one of the first cafes I visited when I moved to the area. This family-run cafe served sourdough toasties with homemade soup, which made my pre-pandemic work-from-home-Fridays that bit better. The coffee was always perfect and the cakes – made by “Granny Badger” and served on salvaged, mismatched crockery – are something I will sorely miss. Ollie, software engineer, London

‘I’d pop into Mistral whenever I was in town’

I miss shopping at Mistral in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. Its nice clothes are still available online, but I want to be able to try things on before I decide whether to buy them. It was always nice just popping in and seeing if there was anything new when I went into town. Anni Fentiman, retired, Wiltshire