The Art Of The Vulture

Mrs P and I love a bargain. Who doesn’t? But I think we love a bargain more than most. Neither of us will pay full price for anything of substance before we’ve scoured the internet for discount vouchers. I’ll watch prices for months to get the cheapest flights. She’ll get an extra few pounds off for the slightest of perceived flaws in a new blouse. And the hours we’ll put into the January sales. But don’t start thinking that we’re tight. Or miserly. Thrifty is perhaps a better word. But really, we just like the thrill of the sport.

Our favourite money saving activity is finding the best bargains in supermarkets. Food wastage is ‘frowned upon’ these days. So we will often head to the sections of the fridge where stock of soon to go out of date food has been reduced. Some stores reduce their stock more than others. The best? Marks and Spencer in Bournemouth. The bargains we have had from there over the years. If we’re passing in the evening, we’ll pop in, just to make sure we don’t miss out. It’s not just the savings that’s great. We find stuff that we’d never have otherwise thought to buy. Our thriftiness has widened our culinary horizons.

We’re not the only ones. Packs of bargain hunters will be trailing the person manning the discount trolley, snatching the choicest goodies as soon as the yellow ‘Reduced To Clear’ stickers go on. We are just like a flock of vultures, picking at the left overs. Sometimes squabbling if someone snatches something with a speed that is considered unseemly. There is an an unspoken art of vulturing. An accepted standard of etiquette.

Sadly, Marks and Spencer decided to close the Bournemouth store. Today was the final day. You bet we were there good and early. Everything was half price. The familar faces were there too, armed with trolleys. Today was not about picking tid bits from the side. Today was about devouring the entire carcass. We obliged. We didn’t do so happily though. We like our local M&S. It’s been here since 1930. It will be missed. But the problem for Marks was symbolised by the goodbye message in the windows opposite – see the photo above. Sales and profits went backwards towards the end…

Retail is finding life in the 21st century difficult. This isn’t surprising. The internet has taken a huge bite of the pie. And more recently, Brexit has shrunk the size of the pie. But I’m optimistic for the future of the High Street. There will still be a place for it in the lives of us Brits. It’ll need to be smaller. Some high streets might need to go entirely. What’s the point in shops standing empty when there is a housing shortage? But what’s left needs to be reinvented into a brighter, safer and more entertaining place to go. I have a ton of great ideas. Alas, no one has asked me. Alas, I feel that the majority are still clinging on to the corpse of the 20th century high street, and just won’t let go.



9 thoughts on “The Art Of The Vulture

  1. norm says:

    A giant retailer called KMART is going down for the count here in the states. I’m writing it down to poor management more than anything. I’ve picked a bit off its bones over the last few years(it has been a slow death) . As the stores have closed in the area, I’ve bought the heavy steel bench that sat at their door . Two on my front porch and one on the back patio. My grandchildren will have them on their porches one day-they are that well made. I looked them up online, between 6 and 13 hundred is the going rate-I paid less than 100.

    There will always be people who want to hold things in their hand, try them on, I’d never buy a pair of shoes online. Brick and mortar stores are still needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My grandchildren will have them on their porches one day-they are that well made.
      Isn’t that the real scandal of modern society? I looked around my house to see if there was anything likely to outlast me. A few bits of furniture, perhaps but it’d be rather shabby by then, to say the least. Stuff ain’t built like it used to be. Except cars, perhaps. We live in an increasingly disposable society. This is not particularly good for the environment, methinks.

      There will always be people who want to hold things in their hand, try them on, I’d never buy a pair of shoes online. Brick and mortar stores are still needed.

      Absolutely. The high street just needs to relign its offering and scale to match the market. I like what Mexico City has done – introducing entertainment to the streets too. Ciclothons. That sort of thing. Although I’m not sure that the Harmonipan would go down too well over here…


  2. Wow, I do confess to looking out for a good deal and there have been times where I have gone out on a limb and bought something in the eventuality that I might need it someday and that came to a head recently when I was moving house and home. My wife and sons hammered home the possibility that I might never get to use all those bargains I had accumulated in the past thirty odd years and that it might be a good time to clear them out for once and for all. Spread the love in other words and there again neither of my sons were the slightest bit interested in the stuff, not one iota. Both of them are of the “travel light” minded approach in other words if you didn’t use it the last six months get rid of it. Of course that is the best approach when you rent or live in an apartment.
    Fortunately our new home is larger than the old one and more adaptable to storing things so that I can have a zone for each. I just have to build benches for all of them. All the same I did manage to get rid of a huge amount of non essential accumulations and still managed to hold on to most of “the good stuff”.

    Having been a mechanic in a previous life and having the ability to be able to turn my hand to almost anything I set my mind to, I’ve dabbled in tiling, carpentry, welding, painting to name a few and so I’ve gathered all sorts of things to accommodate all those hobbies. So a compressor can be conned into use with air nailers, air tools and sprayers and so on.. so cross pollination you could say.

    There are times here when you get a store close out or a closing down sale but I actually avoided the recent Sears blow out where there was much scullduggery and sales items were marked up rather than down across the country. Of course as the end reaches nigh there is a lot of dross to fondle in the skips outside. It is still amazing what you find though and there in lies my dilemma. For many years I was considering buying a hovel in Merida or another far flung spot and so I was accumulating tools for all three, my present home, the far flung one and the get away RV on an island not too far far away.

    I have been blessed the odd time by saving a bundle. Unfortunately PC will buy something she likes no matter the price so you could say our buying values average out somewhat.


  3. No matter where you live in the western world, a bargain is a bargain, is a bargain. It is a lot harder to practice this type of shopping in Mexico unless you live in a large city. We don’t! Memories of living in the US brings us to clipping coupons and sales on special days. We could often live stores with lots of stuff and hardly a penny spent!

    Liked by 2 people

    • There are people in the UK who have really turned bargain hunting into a fine art. The one type of retail outlet that is thriving in the UK is the charity shop. It’s surprising what you can pick up there sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

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