Friday 21 May 2021

Another blow to Hanley

Sad to hear that the Hanley Marks & Spencers is closing soon. Seemingly another casuality of the lockdown, along with the other big Hanley department store Debenhams.

Personally I won't miss either. But Debenhams and M&S closing will no doubt be a huge blow to the centre. Especially in terms of attracting "Mrs. Spends £100 per-week on clothes and cakes" and her kids, with the kids being dropped off in somewhere like Games Workshop / the comic shop / the Library. Webberley's big bookshop and the art supplies shop have long gone, and the Library is no draw for me — books now come to me from Amazon and eBay and go to lockers for pickup. Nice to see the arcade record shop and Brassington's shoe-shop are hanging on in Hanley, and that Brassington's website is offering prices that undercut Amazon on brands such as Dr. Marten's. But for me footwear is only a once-in-ten-years purchase, and all my music is now digital.

Thus Rymans is now the only real draw for me in Hanley, and even then only occasionally and only because the big-shed version of Staples on Festival Park closed down. Difficult to think of any other reason to go up to Hanley, and plenty not to — in the form of the druggies and crazy people who are allowed to roam it and yell at the public while the police sit idly by in their car. Which I saw with my own eyes when I visited Rymans last autumn.

My last M&S "new trousers" visit, some years ago now, was actually to the huge out-of-town M&S at nearby Wolstanton. It has to be M&S because only there can you get exact trouser lengths + quality + price + a selection. And they still take seriously menswear for those who are not pencil-slim 19 year-olds, and give it lots of display space. It's a good store, huge and browsable, and with a big B&M next door. Once the big Wolstanton flyover finally opens you might even have some people walking up there from Festival Park, provided the long pedestrian bridge-crossing experience is made pleasant. When I last went it was a bit of a dog's leg to walk there, and the toy-town bus back was late and meh.

So really, Hanley's become a bit pointless for me now. Especially as many things can now be sent to an Amazon pickup on Festival Park. Or had via eBay if they can fit through a letterbox. There's also the B&Q on Festival Park, for the sort of larger or more specialist DIY items that can't be had from Morrisons. But that's the western part of Festival Park, which can hardly be considered to be Hanley. Nor can Ableworld which is far down on the southern edge of Hanley by the canal, and which I may eventually need when the time comes for the zimmer-frame and the ear-trumpet. Now there's a thought. The city centre bosses might find a way to get the big Ableworld up into Hanley, with good parking, and at no extra cost to the chain. That would be a draw for many older people. It might even fit nicely inside the current M&S space. That's if, by then, Ableworld hasn't already found a new space at Wolstanton next to the new flyover and M&S.

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