Coincidentally, the brand we’d resurrect also bit the dust 18 years ago. Poster and card retailer Athena went into administration in 1995, despite having sold around two million copies of its iconic ‘Tennis Girl’ poster (you know the one…) The brand divided opinion, with some art critics and intellectuals dismissing it as populist and tasteless. But Athena made contemporary art, design and photography accessible to consumers who may not have bought original work or visited galleries, and gave us some of the most memorable and defining images of the 80s and 90s.
Sam Farrow, founder, Farrow Creative
I’d like to bring back the brand with a sense of place. The brand that knows its regulars and acts as a social hub. The brand that passes its pride in the job from generation to generation. The ordinary family business stocked with everyday stuff; the purveyor of sundries to other traders; the café that proffers the usual before you’ve uttered a word. Let’s hear it for the shops of the future that we need to put the human into the high street.
Lydia Thornley, founder, Lydia Thornley Design
Nostalgia for high street brands is misplaced. Take C&A for example – no longer on UK high streets, and a good thing too. When I was 13, my mum bought me some Rodeo trainers from C&A. Not Reeboks, or Nikes, or Addidas. Rodeo. I was mocked and shunned by my peers. Do I want C&A back? Hell no. So I don’t feel the need to resurrect these long lost brands. We need new, clever, useful high street brands – to occupy the empty shops on my high street if nothing else.
Noel Lyons, co-founder, Kent Lyons
United Cattle Products. That’s the high street brand I’d bring back. UCP was a chain of shops and restaurants in Lancashire and the north of England. They had 146 branches in the 1950s. UCP sold the very cheapest cuts – in those days nothing much went to waste. You can buy a reprint of The 99 Recipe Book – Ninety-nine homely and delicious ways of preparing and serving UCP tripe and cowheels. Mmm. Tripe and tomato soup; tripe and liver roll; tripe with dumplings; tripe with fresh herrings; potted tripe; curried tripe; steamed tripe; cowheel and sheep’s head pie. Now offal’s fashionable, I reckon United Cattle Products would make a killing.
John Spencer, founder and creative director, Off the Top of My Head
It would have to be Woolworths. Woolies was the epitome of the Great British High Street store (even though it’s founding roots were American). In the store’s heyday there were 1,141 across the country yet its eventual decline led to the company’s closure in 2009. Growing up in the more ‘rural’ part of England offering little, Woolies offered something more grandiose than an average ‘shop’ experience and it seemed you could buy anything from there. For me it was solely about the music section and finding the rich pickings in the bargain bins (I built my entire Killing Joke collection thanks to this store).
Paul West, partner, Form
It would have to be Rumbelows. Growing up in Bolton there were generally three ways to get the things you want:
1. The ‘Never Never’ or ‘Chucky Wagon’. (Buy now. Pay for it the rest of your life).
2. Rent it from Rumbelows.
3. Nick it.
We rented it from Rumbelows. We even rented our telephone. It may seem old fashioned to rent electricals but it’s worth remembering that a video recorder cost £450 in 1983. That’s £1,287.72 in todays money. But the real reason I love Rumbelows is the brilliant TV ads they ran in the 80’s. Way ahead of their times. Animated appliances with a reggae/ska vibe. Don’t pay any more Mrs. Moore.
Stuart Watson, creative director, Venture Three