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'Insert pun on store name here'
Member Name: The Daz
Advantages: Wide range of goods.
Disadvantages: Time passes very slowly in here!
There is a store on the hill, specifically located to cause the maximum amount of traffic congestion possible, finding itself opposite 2 small retail parks, that used to peddle tools and hardware under the wallet draining guise of B&Q. That retailer has now moved to the valley below - please see my review on DIY in Paraguay for further details.
In its place we now have a branch of The Range. Initial suspicions of it being a combination between a Big W and a Poundland were inaccurate to say the least, and although a lot of its wares fall into the fuzzy category that lies somewhere between the stuff JML peddle that you don't really need but are useful and good value, and general tat that no one reputable would dare offer for sale, it is in fact a far more pleasant place to waste an hour whilst my Wife is emptying the Joint Account than the previously cramped and sullen B&Q.
I should point out here that this review is going to be positive in its mode, and I'm merely going for the downtrodden Saturday moping Husband angle, wherein you find yourself wishing you were at home watching Football Focus rather than traipsing around shops along with every other person in your town.
So - to the store. Aside from its traffic drawbacks - although in its favour there is an almost hidden escape road that leads beside the police station and onto a slip road for the way home, rather than necessitating an uphill wait for someone with merciful headlights to let you out - it is actually a fairly reasonable place to visit.
They have a café - not that I've had the chance to use it - that sells all manner of heated breakfast good butties, cakes and frothy coffees, which is stashed beside the section that sells Fishing gear and indoor Gardening wares.
No - not wares for Gardening indoors - but the gardening wares that either don't grow or are not so large that they need to be in the small outdoor section.
There aren't really any definitive signs for sections within - but discrete changes in layout of shelves give the hint about the area you find yourself in. It's somewhat similar to B&Q in that respect of being a series of departments clustered under one roof - mostly homewares and the like.
The first area I'm required to weave through is Art. Cheap canvasses, mass print photographs and decorative hanging things (I'm at a loss here) abound, and swiftly give way to fake flowers and vase decorations and cheap attempts at sculpture. You know - the kind of wooden structures that look really good on those home redesign programs but don't actually look right in any room of your house and end up in the loft.
Then we have the motherlode - Crafts. Stretching thousands of aisles into the hazy distance, and taking in the full spectrum of all things that comprise the only hobby that women can do without copying from the men, you can buy anything from kid's art materials to fancy papers, card making tools, punches, inks, foils, ribbon, all sorts of fancy swirly buttons and at least 39 types of glue dot. My Wife tends to park herself here with the pram for several eternities (bloke talk for any length of time spent shopping beyond 8 minutes), and allows me to venture wildly about the store.
Seasonal goods flock at the front of the store - generally toys and tat for your annual festivities. Behind these is a fairly sensible cookware and homeware section that leads into an overpriced furniture section. Honestly - put some veneer on a cheap table and you can charge what you like.
Between these aisles are random bits of storage - I do love a good storage box, particularly if the sides are collapsible or it has wheels - as well as items that just don't fit anywhere else: Carpet tiles anyone?
Homeware continues with lighting and home DIY - a relatively small selection of cheap toilet seats, wonky shelf kits and tools. Incorporated in here is the Car section, with a useful range of the gear you need to go abroad with: see my P&O review for all the items I had to buy to comply with French regulations.
Next up is Pets. Petware? I don't visit this area at all, mainly as I don't have any pets. One child is enough of a drain on my resources as I can manage for now thankyou. Sidled between Pets and Cars is a small aisle of DVD's and CD's that comprise compilations and collections of things you didn't know existed. Best Bass Fishing Moments IV, More Kid's Cartoons you've never heard of XII, Greatest Hits of Unknown Soul Singers III.
Finally - should none of this be enough for you, you can loiter in the toy section and wistfully reminisce about all those games you used to play but were forced to take to a car boot sale when you moved out of home, and see what clever marketers have come up with thesedays to entertain teenagers, tweenagers, pre-teens and other brand oriented non-adult groupings.
Overall - whilst seeming a bit of nothing much at all for a wide range of offerings, it is perhaps this wider array of goods that may keep it viable in this media-enhanced recession that everyone seems to think we're having, and certainly beats traipsing around the old B&Q trying to find where they'd hidden the Turf this week. It's a well lit, bustling superstore that seems to be thriving at the moment, and I don't really begrudge the odd visit here.
Summary: There are worse ways to spend your saturday afternoons.
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