Some of you may have been wondering why things had gone a bit quiet. I have realised one of the stumbling blocks to a Christmas present blog….It all has to be written in the run up to Christmas! So apologies for the extended gap in posts. I have been busy shopping (and baking, writing, wrapping etc) so I’m now going to do my best to make a few last posts to bring you all up to date with how I’ve got on. So, rolling back a couple of weeks, I was still in the midst of shopping (I am a terrible last minuter anyway), and I wrote:


“Last Friday I had a pretty successful shopping trip in Letchworth. I bought presents for my son, daughter, niece and a friend’s daughter, all in the fantastic toyshop Cuthberts (on Eastcheap). I also spoke to a very helpful assistant and found out that the Lego tub another niece would like will be in on soon, and that they also stock the wooden railway parts which I’m planning to get for my nephew. Result.
I also found this rather lovely folding cake stand in The Secret Garden, a charming vintage and vintage-inspired shop on the Wynd. I was really looking for something for my sister, but I’ve decided I’m going to keep it for myself. So not a tick off my list, but pleasing none the less.


So all in all, Friday was a great shopping challenge day. But then by the following Monday, my daughter had gone down with a bug so no pre-school for her and no shopping for me. At least, not in Letchworth Town Centre…..
Now, before you all start hitting the comment button and telling me I’m cheating, I should say that I DID NOT BUY ANYTHING. But I was struck, not for the first time, by the phenomenal amount of choice there is online when you start to look. The power of search engine is such that you can trawl through hundreds of not thousands of different options for any given person. This obviously takes time – as yet there is no universal compendium of purchasing options (though I think people are trying). But when this searching can be done with the click of a button from your armchair, it can be extremely easy to spend an hour or more exploring options.”
How important is this choice? well, I think there is a distinction to be made between shopping for your very immediate family: spouse, children, (possibly) parents and siblings; and then shopping with whom you are slightly less well-acquainted – in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends etc. The issue is how intimately you know what they have already and what they really would like best.
For example, Cuthberts Toys is great – it has a good range of toys and children’s gifts and has been able to cater for almost everything that I’ve needed for all children APART FROM my own. Basically, I know my own too well. And knowing, as I do, the huge range of toys which are available online (and indeed in Cambridge – subject of a future post), I have not been able to restrict myself to what is available in Letchworth (especially as I have to play Santa Claus too, of course). I have been quite happy (indeed impressed) with the range of slippers for my brother in law (he asked for them!) in Burrs Shoes. But basically if they are manly mules, comfy but not too fluffy and come in a size 12, I’ll take them! I have no idea what Matt’s ideal slipper would be ….

It is a given that a medium-sized town like Letchworth will offer fewer shopping choices than bigger towns or the internet. But this does not always matter. And, by forcing myself to look in Letchworth first, I have ended up spending significantly more there than I would have if I had taken the online or big-town approach first. After the big day I will tot up the actual results.

What do you think? How much choice is enough for you?


Letchworth Shopping Challenge – How much choice is enough? — 2 Comments

  1. Also on the subject of choice…. as most of you will know, we have an excellent independent bookshop – David’s – on Eastcheap. Did you know that they can order almost any book in for you within just a few days (usually 48 hours). You can search for any book and place your order online very easily through their website – just click on NEW BOOKS in the top left hand corner and then use the search box. At present they do not deliver (though I gather this is something they are considering) – they will phone you when your book(s) are in. I have found this a great alternative to Amazon this year for books which have been specifically requested by someone. Also, you can use the Amazon site to see reviews etc and then order from David’s. Perfect!

  2. I really enjoyed reading about your shopping experience. It inspired me to look at places you mentioned! Thank you, Camilla