“ Choice Fashion Discount Outlet „
Wonderful though the internet is for replacing some shopping trips - that horrendous last minute dash round Tesco, for example - when it comes to clothes shopping I am definitely an old fashioned kind of gal. Nothing comes close to that marvellous feeling you get from discovering the perfect outfit: handling the fabric, trying the garment on ... discovering they don't have one in your size, and you're about to bust the zip trying to get it off again (curse those mince pie reviews!)
My local shopping mall is not, it has to be said, that well stocked for fashion stores. The few that do trade there are either too girly, too frumpish, or too expensive. Oh, if only I had a Next Shop, like they do in Crawley!
Step forward, Choice Discount Fashions.
This Choice store is located in Redhill High Street, right next door to Sainsbury's, and is one of the few 'smaller name' retailers not to have closed their doors in recent months. And with good reason - this is easily the most popular shop in Redhill for fashions, seeing off such heady competition as New Look, Bay Trading, and, er ... Quality Seconds.
When I Googled for more info, I initially found a totally different Choice site, selling exclusive designer fashions both on and off-line, in places such as Bluewater and Canary Wharf. Whether the two are 'sister sites' I don't know, but Choice Discount is hardly the poor relative. Ignoring the prices on the tastefully dressed mannequins in the window (and the fact this is Redhill high street, rather than Mayfair), and you could easily mistake Choice FOR a designer store. The exterior facade is decked out in modern black and chrome, with a simple, refined window display that changes almost daily.
Going inside is an almost Tardisian experience, because this store extends a looong way back. Spacious and easy to navigate, it stocks practically nothing but ex-Next fashions and homeware, which could explain the air of exclusivity about it. I've always admired Next for the quality of their goods, and a 'Next second' still comes head and shoulders above many other big name 'firsts.'
The one thing that stops me being a regular Next shopper are the prices, which although affordable to most can be a little steep for me at times. (Until I discovered this store, I was a confirmed QS buyer) But Choice offers me the chance to buy this season's goods at up to 75% off normal prices! And they have a wide range to choose from, too: a huge selection of mens, womens and childrens clothing and footwear, a full range of fashion accessories; plus a constant stream of sundry goods ranging from bubble bath to money boxes - all sporting the distinctive Next logo. Even more money can be saved if you go there at sale time, and there are always a couple of 'bargain rails' for the truly impoverished.
Bargains this week include womens 'Ugg' style boots (reduced from £45 to £25) Mens jeans (all half-price, starting at the £15 mark); leather fashion sandles - a snip at £12 - and various evening dresses, many priced at just £15. Try as I might, I could find nothing priced above £65 (for a women's full length wool coat that was over £100 normally) In the childrens section, toddler and baby wear is priced from just £1.50 (for an adorable little fleece babygrow) whlst older children have a range of budget priced fashion items, all in this season's latest styles and colours.
In the end, I bought a mid-length wool mix coat (£45, reduced from £90) a gents wristwatch (£12, down from £25), a pair of boy's jeans at £15 reduced from £35; and my best buy yet - a 'hippy chic' girl's top with hand embroidered detail, £3.50 down from £8 - a price which had already been reduced once. Both I and the sales assistant decided it was the sweetest thing we had seen all season.
I also grabbed a few handfuls of little 'stocking filler' items they were practically giving away, such as phone charms (just 50p each!) and Next Shower Gel (25p, reduced from its sale price of 75p) I also bought a box of Christmas crackers, half-price at £5.
It's unlikely you won't find a garment in your size - the rails always have a huge range of sizes in each style, ranging from mini-petite to extra large. If you can't find what you are looking for, the attentive sales assistants will bend over backwards to try and get you what you want - be it from another store or 'out back.' There are the usual money back guarantees, and the staff are so efficient that there's rarely a queue at the till, even when the store is full of Christmas shoppers.
All the labels are genuine Next issue, and the prices (showing both pre- and post-discount value) can be easily removed without ruining the store tag.
Buying a gift from Next ensures you never have to look cheap at Christmas. Thanks to Choice, you won't have to!
Postscript: I think I've just beaten the above mentioned 'best bargain.' Went in there yesterday, to find thick denim 'comfy cut' (slightly baggy, mens style) womens' jeans at £8.50 - reduced from £25! Unfortunately they started at size 14, so a bit big for me, but at least I've sorted out pressies for my Mum and sister-in-law, who are both size 14 and can NEVER find comfortable womens jeans to wear. Me? I settled for a pair of white denims with diamante detail, £20 down from £45. Oh yes, and a three quid alarm clock - just in case I oversleep a good bargain.