In a lot of ways the fun has gone out of shopping. Aside from the fact we seem to do most of it over the Internet, even when you can bring yourself to leave the house you know you’re going to end up in one of the same six big name stores you find in every shopping centre in the country.
Sometimes you want something a little different, and for that, you might just have to enter the world of fiction…
The Fancy Dress Shop – Mr Benn
This one’s first on the list for a reason. If you could only pick one fictional shop to visit this has to be it. Any outfit you could possibly imagine, and when you try it on you are immediately transported into a wonderful adventure anywhere from outer space to King Arthur’s court.
And best of all, near as we can tell from the child-friendly version of Quantum Leap that was the cartoon, Mr Benn never actually has to buy any of these costumes…
Anywhere on Diagon Alley – Harry Potter
Okay, maybe it’s cheating to try and include the whole of Diagon Alley, but we don’t care. We want to visit Ollivander’s Wand Shop and Eeylops Owl Emporium and Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour and then we want to stop for a pint in the Leaky Cauldron afterwards.
Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium – The Twilight Zone
The “mysterious shop that isn’t there when you go back the next day” is a staple of spooky fiction. That mysterious shop has turned up everywhere from the Hellraiser movies to The Simpsons. So it’s no surprise that one of the best versions of this enigmatic retail outlet comes from The Twilight Zone. At Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium people can find that little extra something, be it your sense of humour, your compassion, or the respect of your children.
Be Kind Rewind Rental Store – Be Kind Rewind
In an age where even DVD and BluRay are starting to look old hat compared to all the streaming options available nowadays, let’s spare a thought for the video cassette. Yes, the picture quality wasn’t that great. And there weren’t any special features. And after you finished watching a film you then had to wait for ages for the video to rewind back to the start again (or worse, you’d have to do it before you watched the movie). But watching Be Kind Rewind you still somehow feel nostalgia for this terrible, awful medium. Partly because all of the films are made with zero budget special effects in the lot behind the store.
Black Books – Black Books
The trouble with the vast majority of shops these days is they insist on giving you things like “customer service” or “service with a smile” or “not openly insulting you to your face while refusing to serve you”. This is not a problem at Black Books, where Bernard Black would much rather you didn’t try to buy anything, but instead just left him alone with a bottle of wine.
Ray’s Occult Books – Ghostbusters 2
Another bookshop, this time with a slightly friendlier staff and a more eclectic range. After the Ghostbusters went bankrupt, Ray Stanz opened up a shop specialising in “bizarre, somewhat strange, and hard to find books”. We’d give anything to go have a nose through those shelves.
Buy N Large – Wall-E
Now we’re all for supporting independent businesses, but sometimes you just want to buy from a gigantic pan-national uber-corporation. Buy N Large own and sell everything, from robots to spaceships to governments. They make Walmart look like a mom and pop convenience store. It might not be ethical – it might bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it – but you can bet they have what you want in stock for a low, low price.