All The 90s Shops That Made Our Childhood’s Lit

Does sauntering around your local high street ever get you down? Does it make you jaded, fatigued, and uninspired? Does it leave you feeling like the soggy, lopsided bowls of porridge your dinner lady dolloped out at your school canteen? 
 
Why, who can blame you? Nowadays the high street with its myriads of Prets, Superdrugs and JD Sports is losing authenticity faster than an army of White Walkers tumbling down The Wall. But this world was not always such a vanilla place; once the high street had more personality than all 5 Spice Girls marinated together. If we just cast our minds down memory lane, we arrive at the high street’s golden era: the 90s. (As a millennial, call me biased – because I’d have to agree.) 


T’was the time when Woolworth’s concoction of pick’n’mix, toys and video games made us luminous with glee, and you could address serious, first-world pin-up problems in Athena – like would you rather have The Fresh Prince of Bel Air or Hanson mount your bedroom wall? T’was the time when you could stroll into The Gadget Shop and get the jellyfish aquarium, lava lamp and inflatable chair you always wanted and never needed – because Dexter’s Laboratory was your jam. The era when you stepped through The Natural World’s doors and became David Attenborough in Borneo, unearthing fossils to a toucan’s mating call. Finally, it was a time, when you could wrap up your day in Tammy Girl and confirm to Milton with euphoric tween tears, paradise had truly been regained.  
If anything, it seems we’ve got to look towards the past, to fuel hopes of our clinically generic high streets having a more soulful future. So without further ado, here is the definitive list of shops which made the 90s bliss and have dented a hole into our hearts which yearns for them now (albeit some more than others…).



Tammy: 

tammy

The sassy seventh heaven where you could purchase Sk8er Boi trousers, spiked dog collars,  acid yellow mesh tees, badges for ‘Babes with attitude’, and your first G-string  which said ‘Snap!’  – all under one roof. Quite simply, a wondrous place.

Gamleys:

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Dream Phone; Mr Frosty; Fashion Plates; Tamagotchi; Polly Pockets; Guess Who?; Furby; Baby Born; Talkboy; Hungry Hippos; My Little Pony; Cabbage Patch Dolls; Mr Potato Head – walking into Gamleys was like walking right into Santa Claus’ satchel and our parents would have to bribe us with a gift, if they ever wanted us to leave…

Woolworths:

woolworths

Whether you wanted your fix of Black Jacks or Candy Sticks, Bop It Or Bratz, Britney or Christina’s latest single, or the new Dawson’s Creek video – you’d get it here, ‘cus Woolworths was the 90s.

Morgan:

morgan

The tres chic french boutique which its brought a certain je ne sais quoi over here. Basically a suave Jane Norman, albeit one which also had a penchant for plastering its logo across the entire surface area of your school bag.

The Natural World:

natural world

The days when healing crystals, volcanic rocks and rainforest soundtracks, tried to go mainstream…and failed – sob. Natural world, we need you more now than ever!

Dolcis:

dolcis

The shop which made manufactured all the kitten heels which crushed our date’s heart in one second flat (because they were so goddam awful).

Athena:

Athena  Chris / Flickr Plymouth, Devon, England

The fine art print shop we’d stride into, pretending to act all cultured and bouji – only to spend the entire time salivating over posters of a young Leo and Ryan Phillipe.

Blockbusters:

blockbuster-store

Strictly for nostalgia – NOT for practicality. Fuzzy videos and £10 late fees can carry on chilling in their crypts. 

How Unstable Work Is Damaging Millennial’s Mental Health

‘@Temp.com?’ The client threw his head back with laughter. ‘Bit of a crap email, isn’t it? Surely you deserve a name by now!’ He carried on howling as he waited for my response, but I couldn’t bring myself to smile.

I’d been temping at this company for four months, and in so many respects, I wasn’t a temp. I knew my team inside out by now. Right down to the minutia of how precisely they liked their coffee – Tess liked hers the colour of dirty sand, while Ed was your toffee fudge kind of guy; down to their signature moves on a night out – Denise was a twerker circa 9PM and Dan emulated Napoleon Dynamite jiving to Jamiroquai. The team and I would always have a laugh at work and conversation flowed like a meandering river. But still, one massive elephant remained in the room: four months down the line, my work ID and email address were still branded ‘temp’. I was a faceless user – disposable and indistinguishable – one unworthy of a name. That’s the real problem with being a ‘temp’: it’s not unusual to feel like you’re all three things.

A new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Business in the Community revealed younger workers in part-time jobs are 43% more likely to experience mental health problems and poorer well-being than those in permanent and secure jobs. Meanwhile, if you’re a temp worker, you’re 29% more likely to struggle with poorer mental health than your peers in full-time, contracted employment. As someone who has been temping on and off for three years and struggled with mental health issues, I can totally relate.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re temping, in part-time work, freelancing or self-employed: the volatility of an unstable income, uncertain future and leading a life which lacks routine and control, can leave you feeling deflated, lost and stressed. Ultimately, it can make you feel like a failure. It really comes as no surprise that young workers, who think they are more than 50% likely to lose their job, are also twice as likely to experience mental health problems than those with a stable job. Speaking from personal experience, the fear that you just might not be good enough to get a job can begin to eat away at you – to point where you start believing it’s a self-truth and you become convinced you’re just not good enough at anything in life, period.

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Lower levels of concentration, sleep deprivation, low self-worth and self-esteem, heightened uncertainty, depression and anxiety are just some of the many ways unstable work can impact your well-being and mental health. This is made all the more disheartening by the irresistible urge to compare yourself to your peers in secure jobs: stable, together, going places…Although I, just like so many others, didn’t foresee I’d still be in this situation now.

After spending three of the most amazing years at Leeds University and graduating with a 2:1 in a subject I adored, I hoped to go far; I knew I was hard working, enthusiastic and positive. I naively thought my quest to becoming a writer would be more or less smooth sailing from here. But I don’t think anything could have prepared millennials like myself for how tough pursuing their chosen career path and securing a job would be.

IPPR’s report states young workers nowadays tend to be in jobs that they’re overqualified for, withyoung workers in non-professional or managerial jobs being twice as likely to graduate in 2014 than they were in 2004. Increasing competition and over-saturated job markets, coupled with a strained economy and immense political instability, have made it a bitch of a journey – to say the least. The figures speak for themselves: in the first three months of 2017, 2.7 million people were underemployed – 42% higher than in the first three months of 2002, when 1.9 million were underemployed. Economic pressures have clearly being felt by employers, as the number of 21-25 year oldsin low-paid work has increased by 82% between 1990 and 2015. In many cases, this will have meant exploiting cheap labour and zero hour contracts. Sadly, feeling undervalued and being left without a secure network to fall back on, mentally takes its toll.

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All in all, this paints a pretty depressing picture and begs the real question we should all be asking: where do we go from here? IPPR’s report highlights there’s a clear correlation between our unstable, flexible job market and young people’s mental health. We can only hope the Government and employers will take note and start working together to promote better quality jobs.  By creating more benefits for those working under flexible practices and giving them more control (i.e. entitling workers to flexitime or working from home), this could help to empower employees. Meanwhile, developing progression schemes could prevent young workers from becoming trapped in low-skilled and low-paid work; instilling each with a greater sense of purpose and direction. However, it’s important to remember one thing – in theory, while these all sound great – until they’re put it into practice, they just remain romanticised ideas.

One of the report’s more encouraging findings revealed 16% of young people who experienced mental health problems in 2014 reported them; in comparison to 2004’s lower 13%. The increased number of disclosures is likely attributed to the stigma around mental health gradually diminishing. While we still have far greater leaps of progress to make in this field, it’s promising to see things are moving in the right direction. Our voices are our weapons and our vehicles for change: the more we utilise them, the faster the Government and employers will be triggered into action. Because it doesn’t matter why you’re temping, or whether or not you know what you want to do later on in life; if we should be granted one certainty in life, it should be that our mental health and well-being always comes first.

Illustrations by Rachel Denti (from Everyday Thoughts on Everyday Things)