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Editor's comment: When all sorts are no longer enough

If a picture can speak a thousand words then this image says a lot about what customers make of a shop that lacks a clear offer.

It could be from any one of hundreds of towns in the UK, where small independent variety stores were first in line to fail during the recession.

But recession or not, such stores would find the going tough today. In an old-fashioned mixed high street, a shop selling ‘Allsorts of things’ might be a useful place for balls of string or clothes pegs. But when every town has an embarrassment of supermarkets and traditional high streets sell cupcakes and coffee, it would be strangely anachronistic.

As shoppers, we like to know what kind of products we are going to find when we enter a shop. Even if we enjoy moments of surprise and delight when we stumble on something unexpected, few of us are likely to enter a store without at least some idea of the category of products inside.

Shop names such as Allsorts of Things or, an old favourite, That’ll Do are becoming a rare sight these days. 

Will they ever make a return?

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