Publication Date: 24/02/2022 ISBN: 9780198815914 Category:

Back to the Shops

Rachel Bowlby

Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 24/02/2022 ISBN: 9780198815914 Category:




What will become of the shops? More than ever, the high street appears to be under mortal threat, its shops boarded up as the sad ‘bricks and mortar’ survivals of a pre-online retail world. But behind the bleak appearance, there is more to see.

Back to the Shops offers a set of short and surprising chapters, each one a window into a different shop type or mode of selling. Old shopping streets are seen from new angles; fast fashion shows up in eighteenth-century edits. Here are pedlars and pop-ups, mail order catalogues and mobile greengrocers’ shops. Here too are food markets open till late on a Saturday night, and tiny subscription libraries tucked away at the back of the sweet shop.

Over time, shops have occupied radically different places in cultural arguments and in our everyday lives. They are essential sources of daily provisions, but they are also the visible evidence of consuming excess. They are local community hubs and they are dreamlands of distraction.

Shops are inherently spaces of imagination as well as of practicality. They belong with their own surrounding streets and town; they bring back the times and places of our lives. They linger in stories of all kinds, whether far-fetched or round the corner. From butcher to baker and from markets to motor vans-after reading this book, you will want to go back to the shops.

Publisher Review

A broad-based, long-run, and finely judged survey of our shopping history: this is the book to give us a necessary perspective on the twenty-first-century transformation now under way. * David Kynaston, author of Austerity Britain, Family Britain, and Modernity Britain * This book traces retailing trends from the first market stalls to internet shopping and is a timely indicator of how our town centres could develop over the next 50 years. * Sir John Timpson, Chair of Timpson and champion of town centre regeneration initiatives *

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