Woolwich – Bargain City

Yesterday, in a ‘proper work’ avoidance move, I trotted over to Peggy Middleton House to check out the Olympic Proposals, which were only there until today.

They’re very much Info-lite – lots of pictures of random smiling people and artists’ impressions of joggers running through non-specific parkland and a few indecipherable maps. They included nothing at all about anything this side of the river, which was most disappointing. I was told that since they haven’t had any plans submitted they don’t officially know about any Olympic plans for Greenwich – despite another artist’s impression of the equestrian events in Greenwich Park in the council’s own newsletter.

I had particularly wanted to see the plans because I am mildly worried about any long-term damage the events in the park will cause – such as the loss of any ancient trees, planting patterns or that superb, mature herbacious border by the Queens House wall. No such luck.

But I digress.

On being thwarted in my efforts to save Greenwich’s flowerbeds (ahem,) I decided that a spot of retail therapy was needed, and went for a wander down Woolwich’s pedestrianised high street.

I’d forgotten what a fab place Woolwich is for genuine bargains. Forget poncy out-of-town outlet parks, if you can get past the fact that it’s a bit on the scruffy side, Woolwich is the home of REAL factory outlet shops.

Marks & Spencer, for a start. They do proper reductions on real last-season stuff – and since most M&S stuff is hardly cutting-edge anyway, going for the ‘classic’ market instead, it’s frankly just as good this year as last. Men’s, women’s and children’s – as well as the odd homeware, smelly or novelty good. At the back there’s a food store (not sale stuff, natch.)

If you carry on down towards the river, you’ll pass various cheapo outlets – from brand-name makeup and tolietries at rock-bottom prices to bedlinen and housewares, games and stationery.

Another real find is the Clarks Factory Shop – right down the end. This is a real free-for-all – with Clarks usual quality-footwear at ridiculously low prices – again, men’s, women’s and children’s – a real plus if you’ve got kiddies with growing feet and not an awful lot of cash – you get good quality at low prices. Take a pal with you as they often do offers where you get one pair for a low price, two pairs for even less, and they practically pay you to take away three pairs. At the moment they have boxes and boxes of party shoes – but they always carry other stuff too.

I guess it’s down to individual conscience whether the basement-bargain stores such as Primark, Peacock and Poundland (all the ‘p’s) are a great way of keeping low-income British families within a reasonable standard of living or a middle-class guilt-trip as stories about third-world sweatshops fill the papers, but if you’re with the former camp, they’re all here too.

Also to be found – Boots, WH Smith, New Look…you’ve got the picture.

Whatever you think of Woolwich – it’s certainly worth a trip – if only to enjoy the buzz of activity that a sunny day and a few special offers produces.

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