Wednesday, 8 February 2012

"I Saw You Coming" Shops - A Rant

I am not usually one to rant about these things, but after the Blogfest last year and some blog advice given to me on writing passionately for what you believe in and feel angry as well as happy about... so here it goes... Apologies in advance, but this has to be done. 

In recent months, the term "I Saw You Coming" has been frequently used in the Flay household and it is now increasingly common to hear this phrase uttered from our lips at The Secluded Tea Party HQ...

On shopping or even just window shopping in any town or area populated with gift shops and tourist attractions of any kind, no matter where you go, there are always rows upon rows of these little gift shops that we seem to be magnetically drawn to. You know the ones... The shop window is covered in floral and paisley home ware, teacup candles, Cushions embroidered with "Home Sweet Home", useless metal & wooden scrolled words such as "Love" or "Indulgence" and wooden rocking chairs painted a dull shade of beige. Amongst other such useless utensils and gadgets that nobody will ever use. And don't get me started on the INSIDE of the shop. And yes, I feel I'm allowed to rant about these shops that suck us in, as they get me EVERY time! And I mean, Every time. 

The last time was one of these shops with a soap and herbal section, where the very lovely lady (bless her, she was very sweet) sold me a bottle of herbal cough medicine for £11(!!!??).. Which I bought into, as her friend, Florence and her daughter Daisy swore by the stuff. I was SUCKERED in, well and truly. It didn't work- shocking.  
Once you are inside these shops, you end up tip toeing around, smiling politely at the shop keeper who is crammed into the far corner surrounded by fluffy pram toys and bath bombs disguised as cupcakes and unable to move from their post in fear of knocking these items flying if they do. The customers, myself included are shuffling around the shelves in a clockwise direction, as we Brits seem to automatically do SO well, whilst tutting at the slow mover in front of us holding up the ever expanding queue of fellow suckers who want to look at the useless "Vintage" tat adorning the glass shelves and beige bookcases furnishing the 
 tiny shop. Yes, those unique looking bath bombs in the shape of fricking cupcakes have  
been spotted in Royston, Cambridge, Southwold, Ludlow and some "I Saw You Coming"  
  shop in London....NO! They are not unique and handmade just for this lovely little shop, 
  they are generically made to sucker us all in. Every time.  
I dread the moment that the mister has found something ludicrously expensive and tacky and shouts to show me, and the other hushed customers who can all hear your hilarious piss taking, and when you do turn around to look, you don't want to move too fast in fear of knocking something over with your handbag. It must happen though...These shopkeepers, I am sure, find it amusing to stack their ridiculously oversized teacups and saucers in a precarious manner so that if somebody does knock them over (it's a dead cert to happen to somebody, although I haven't managed to do it just yet myself!) they can then point to the tiny hand written sign that says "All breakages must be paid for".
Don't get me wrong, I do support local and independent shops and businesses I am sure, however it annoys the heck out of me that I can find a tiny metal sign with a humorous 1940's quip about women and their place in the kitchen for 99 pence in one shop, but the very same sign is sold for £11.99 in yet another "I Saw you coming" shop. 
Does anybody ever buy anything seriously in these shops? How do they decide that buying that hideous star-shaped & sparkly rainbow candle holder would look fabulous on their bedroom dresser or that generic vintage bird print bunting would look stunning in their kitchen?! 
I don't always know why I go into these shops myself, I must admit. I think I trick myself into believing that if I don't go in and have a look then I might miss out on a bargain or a new trinket for my tea party table. But do you know what?... I NEVER come out of these shops with anything. Well... rarely!
I just wonder if anybody else does exactly the same thing with these type of shops or do they actually buy these overpriced novelty items religiously? Do they buy these ridiculously overpriced Welsh Dressers and Bedside Cabinets for £600 each just because they have the word "Vintage" slapped on the label? 
Why do I call these type of shops "I Saw You Coming" shops? Just watch an episode of "Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry & Paul” with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse.
And for an example of me uttering this phrase, without it even being scripted, visit my first ever and very recent video blog post on YouTube which does actually spill out of my mouth quite naturally - I’ve just noticed this phrase had slipped out without a thought of it haha. 
Does anybody else find these truly, eye-wateringly expensive shops both frustrating and amusing as well?... Or do you perhaps have a different story or opinion on these types of shops?
Miss Sue Flay


  1. Very well said Miss Sue! I have to be completely honest, when I saw you posting all these photos on instagram I did stop and wonder why you had photographed all that overly expensive 'vintage' (tat?) stuff. I can now breath a sigh of relief at that our friendship can continue on as normal ;)

  2. Hehe Miss Igs... There is no way in hell I would be seen adding such photos for the love of it ; )
    If I do, I give you permission to shout at me... and shout loud! xxx

  3. My husband and I love that Harry & Paul sketch, especially as he thinks it describes where I used to work and much of its clientele fairly accurately. ;) I think there tend to be select pockets of them in the north (York, Harrogate etc) than down here, there were very few where we used to live, though I suspect more are in the offing. I'll happily have a browse while husband rolls his eyes, but it's not usually too difficult to walk away (knowing how little it costs to make most things usually helps--and I'm talking about the mass-manufactured stuff, not handcrafted items). 'Vintage' has just become another marketing term/bandwagon for retailers to get on. I'd rather go to a charity shop to find something interesting any day.