Dark days for the British drinking classes

It is, indeed, a dark hour for the British drinking classes. Our stalwart non-supermarket alcohol retailers have gone to the wall. Victoria Wine, Threshers, Haddows & also Wine Rack have gone into administration as their parent – First Quench – has filed for bankruptcy protection.

What the devil is going on? We are a nation of drinkers for goodness sakes! I am, in honesty, taking the whole thing terribly personally – in no small part because I have been patronising my local Wine Rack for many years. I’m fond of the staff. They’re bright, intelligent things. On many occasions I’ve enjoyed shooting the breeze and asking for their recommendations – always to be politely and convivially serviced. This is in huge contrast to the vile pedestrian low-lifes that ply the tills of the local Tesco Metro (disclaimer: out of town, normal Tesco supermarkets aren’t so bad – but London Tesco Metros are vile though undeniably convenient for certain staples).

Alas – the British supermarkets continue their Walmart-esque stranglehold over our retail world. And I for one, hate it. I hate Tesco and its dumbed-down ‘Middle-England’ mediocrity and its rapacious, vulgar ambition to dominate all retail industry in this country. And the British obsession with price over quality (hence Tesco’s continued success) abhors me and leaves me longing for the lifestyle and values of Continental Europe.

Wine Rack hasn’t closed yet. The closed sign goes up for good on the 16th of this month. But let me just say that it’s awful to see the shelves stripped bare. You see – almost everything has been half-price since 24th November and there is now almost no stock left. At my local one today, all red wine supplies are now exhausted. Of course, nobody drinks white in this weather so there was quite a lot of that left. But all the red is gone. There was, however, still beer. I bought the final three cans of Guinness Draught and the two remaining bottles of ‘Tyskie’ which, I’m pleased to find, is a most agreeable Polish beer (have just finished my first bottle). Not sure I can bring myself to go there again, mind. There will be virtually nothing there next time which is just too horrid to countenance.

Really not sure where my booze will be coming from now. Not Tesco, that’s for sure. There is an Oddbins not so very far but it involves a bit of a detour on my route home and I’ve always found it on the expensive side. But we’ll see. I imagine that Marks & Spencer (food hall) will enjoy an even greater slice of my disposable income than it currently does.

Disconcerting times.

7 thoughts on “Dark days for the British drinking classes

Add yours

  1. I live a block from a liquor store here in Vancouver (a decent one at that – lots of import stuff). That said, I probably don’t go to the sauce nearly as much as you Brits. LOL!

  2. Hen – oh. Odd that they’re having to close so many (I think the news said 3,000) if it’s franchised! You’d have hoped their individual owners would have had more luck saving them.

    Ryan – I’ve totally overdone it the last year, lots of reasons. Mostly as a ‘relaxer’ because my job and working hours are much more demanding than my prior jobs and I’m not going to the gym these days. I’m hoping to cut back in 2010.

    Sven – I know, awful isn’t it! You won’t recognise your old high street when you come back!

  3. It’s a sad day to see them go, replaced by the bland supernarkets and their cheap as hell beer deals. No surprise really I ran a branch of Vic Wine in the 80’s, we sold a case of lager for £15. 20 years on you can get two cases for that price! Also a bottle of scotch £10 in the 80’s, should be around 30 quid by now but selling at sub £10 this Xmas. You need a wheelbarrow to cart out what used to cost a tidy sum. People used to stop by for a chat at the shop & I remember introducing the local population to Sol and Schlitz beers when they were exotic! Happy days!

  4. Andrew – agreed, and yes, the supermarkets are bland. What I like about a good wine shop / offy is that you can ask for recommendations and have some chat and banter with the staff. Try doing that at Tesco… And yeah, prices are WAY lower than they used to be for booze. Even as a kid, wine (not that I drank it then) seemed a bigger deal to drink for adults; more of an occasion. From what I remember, anyway.

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