We come to you today with a very simple question: What was the greatest shop of the 1980s? Which high street establishment, above all others, is the one that immediately transports you back to your youth? That’s the question we posed to thousands of 80s kids on social media, and it’s fair to say that the results didn’t end up being quite as we had predicted.
When Kwik Save, Tammy Girl and Chelsea Girl didn’t make the cut we knew this list would be something incredibly special, so below – listed in reverse order – are the top ten greatest shops of the entire 1980s, as voted for by you!
10. Radio Rentals
Radio Rentals made just £780 during their first year of trading in 1930 when, as their name suggests, all they did was rent out radios to customers in their local catchment area of Brighton, Sussex.
They still trade as Radio Rentals in Australia, but unfortunately for the rest of the world, this popular retro shop was swallowed up by another company in 2000.
Starting out as a leather company in the United States over a century ago, Tandy later switched their focus to electronics when they acquired another business called Radio Shack.
Tandy expanded to nearly ten thousand stores across the globe before being purchased – and later phased out – by the retailer at number one on our top ten list.
It may have withdrawn from the UK in the year 2000, but C&A still operate a few hundred stores in China, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.
We suspect that many of you have pleasant – or maybe not so pleasant – memories of being dragged around a C&A store by your mum during the 80s and 90s.
Athena entered administration in 1996, but you can still purchase prints from this popular art retailer by visiting their website.
Examples of the classic posters Athena sold during our formative years include L’Enfant, which showed a topless, muscle-bound model cradling a baby, and Tennis Girl, which displayed a female tennis player’s naked behind.
6. Our Price
HMV was always a popular choice for buying records during our misspent youth, but personally we always preferred purchasing vinyls, cassettes and CDs from the legendary Our Price.
Operating from 1971 until 2004, Our Price continued as a music price comparison website before being placed into administration in 2017.
5. The Body Shop
If you were in need of any cosmetics or perfumes during the 80s and 90s, the only destination on your mind would have been The Body Shop. It was probably the first major high street outlet to put ethics and environmentalism front and centre.
Founded in 1976 and purchased by L’Oréal in 2006 before being snapped up by Natura in 2017 for a cool £880 million, The Body Shop is still going strong, with more than three thousand stores in 66 different countries.
We almost omitted Wimpy for being a restaurant rather than a shop, but so many of you communicated your love for this legendary chain that we simply had to include it on our top ten countdown.
Originally a fast food outlet, Wimpy now offer table service in their remaining few hundred restaurants, which are scattered throughout just a handful of countries across the globe.
3. Toys “R” Us
Other similar superstores have attempted to fill the gap left by Geoffrey the giraffe and his millions of toys “all under one roof,” but it’s impossible to replicate the feeling of stepping into a Toys “R” Us for the very first time.
They may have ceased trading in 2018, but Toys “R” Us made something of a comeback in 2022 – the only question is: how long can it last?
2. Blockbuster Video
Modern day streaming services let us watch the latest releases within a couple of clicks, but easier doesn’t always mean better when it comes to choosing which film you’re going to watch next.
We’re sure that like us, many of you spent hours perusing the dusty shelves of a Blockbuster Video store, where the impressive art on the front of the VHS boxes often disguised the shockingly low budget films contained within.
Yes, you decided that the sadly-missed Woolworths was the greatest retail chain of the entire 1980s, and we’d be hard pressed to disagree.
Whether you used it to purchase toys, clothes or a massive bag of tasty pick ‘n’ mix, Woolworths was a shop that seemed to contain every single item we ever needed.