Another Lost Gem
Saturday 27th June was a sad day for Worcester, when another of the city's iconic shops closed down. County Furnishings had been in the city for over 40 years - originally in the wonderful crypt-like depths of a Victorian Vinegar Cellar, until developer forced it out and it re-located to a 1950s car showroom in Castle Street. it was one of my favourite shops; I've been going there regularly ever since I came to Worcester. It sold furnishing fabric in greater abundance and variety than I've ever seen in any other shop. It also sold cheap fabric remnants - which I've relied on over the years for my sewing-projects - I've made cushions, seat-covers, curtains, patchwork throws and handbags out of this scrap-fabric. Whenever I had any craft-projects that required fabric, County Furnishings was my first port-of-call. It did haberdashery, too, racks of braid for trimming bags and costumes - cut-price remnants and oddments of braid too. it sold thread and sewing-accessories, huge ornate tassels,and curtain-ties - everything you'd need for curtain-making and upholstery . . . . It was a treasure-trove! I even found affordable corset-lacing there - I never worked out why, maybe it has some unrelated purpose in the realm of home-furnishings.
The shop sold carpets as well, including beautiful Persian rugs which I knew I could never afford to buy, but I went in there simply to admire them anyway (and usually then came out with a bag full of fabric and braid.)
And now it's all gone; another unique independent shop has gone, and it will not be replaced.
Over the past few years, Worcester has lost so many of its best shops. There was Good News, with the best selection of magazines in the city, foreign language newspapers and display-cases of exotic-looking pipe tobaccos. There was Concorde Stationery with its racks of craft papers and bargain envelopes. There was Russell and Dorrell, the department store. And of course, there was Pratleys, the crockery emporium, piled high with stacks of dinner plates and tea-services, that looked as though they were about to collapse at any moment, and with a section at the back selling a random assortment of furniture, rugs and taxidermy - the shop opened in Victorian times, and pretty much the only thing that changed since then was the style of the china. Now we've lost County Furnishings as well.
Yes, there are new shops opening, but they mostly seem to be branches and franchises of well-known stores - bland and corporately-branded. They don't sell anything I want to buy, and they are nowhere near as enjoyable to visit as the shops that we've lost.