Spent part of this afternoon looking round one of the disappearing Comet stores, where everything in stock is seriously marked down since they went into administration earlier this month.
We weren’t really intending to go there and didn’t really mean to buy anything, though Xmas is coming up fast so we might have snapped up a bargain or two. But we didn’t. And even if we had seen something that took our fancy, I am not sure we could have brought ourselves to buy it.
Because we agreed, Mrs WeeKeef and I, that it was all rather sad.
And not just because there was so little there, or that they are reduced to lighting the place with a couple of 40 watt bulbs, or that a whole bunch of (surprisingly cheery) staff are about to lose their jobs.
It’s because it is a bit like losing an old friend. Comet has always been there. I bought my first cassette player there in the early seventies, and my first Sony Walkman a decade later. I (re)stocked up on electrical devices during the separation and divorce from the Ex, and fell in love with one of their fridges when Mrs WK and I were building a new kitchen (the one with the ice maker in one door and a TV screen in the other – we didn’t buy it). Over four decades Comet has variously supplied me with kettles, toasters, vacuum cleaners, radios, cameras and even a couple of computers.
Now they are going and, like Woolworths before them, it’s kind of our fault for not using them enough. But it’s theirs too because the days of the huge, out of town, warehouse type electrical stores seem to be coming to an end. People no longer rely on the word of the obsequious but ultimately ill-informed part-time sales assistant, who has no real chance of being an expert in ceramic hobs, food mixers and 5.1 3D BluRay home cinema systems all at the same time, and whose main goal is actually to sell you an extortionately expensive extended guarantee on the ridiculously low-priced item which you are thinking of purchasing. No, nowadays people do the research themselves and buy online.
That’s a bit sad too, but at least you don’t have to listen to cover versions of Matt Monro hits and it’s generally easier to get parked.