So, six weeks after purchasing not one, not two but, I must now confess, five plastic meerkats on sticks my local version of Loony Larry’s discount store has closed.
Evidently the meerkat-led recovery had come too late to save the business, but there is still no shortage of stores selling utterly useless stuff.
Am I alone in wondering if part of the reason for the slump in high street trade is retailers’ reluctance to stick to their knitting?
Take the post office.
You find yourself innocently queuing to buy something vaguely postal – like a stamp – and finally reach the counter only to discover that you have in your hot little hand a microwave egg poacher cup in the shape of a chicken.
Stamp 60 cents, piece of redundant silicone $9.99.
Walk out realising Australia Post has effectively stung you $1 a minute to wait in line.
And, people, let me tell you those poachers do not work – even when you prick the egg yolk as per the instructions.
Not far from the Little Chick egg cup you might be lucky enough to find an Electronic Jellyfish Aquarium containing “several realistic looking electronic jellyfish”.
But whither the envelopes?
Well, just on pop on of those novelty pith helmets and head for the furthest corner past the Tai Chi Book & DVD box gift set and build-your-own-dinosaur kits.
It’s almost as bad in the chemist. Body wash I get, but who buys laundry detergent in a pharmacy?
Those chemists with coffee shops and sandwich bars, do you really want to hang there? Hey, let’s discuss that leprous wound over a latte!
Chemists with Tattslotto make me feel queasy. I’ll take a super quickpick and two antacid for the bad taste in my mouth.
Of course pharmacists have been forced to diversify as supermarket giants continue their push into health care with increasing shelf space devoted to over-counter-drugs, health supplements and weight management products.
Current legislation prevents Coles and Woolworths supermarkets operating pharmacies in-store like their international counterparts Walmart, Sainsbury and Tesco.
However, a NZ subsidiary of Woolworths has successfully opened several in-store pharmacies and with Australia’s Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement due to expire in 2015, the Pharmacy Guild knows it must fight to keep its ground.
Now it has the adult entertainment industry in its corner.
Woolworths managed simultaneously to upset family values groups and the adult industry when it launched into the sex toy market last month with the sale of Durex Bullet vibrators.
Fiona Patten, president of the Australian Sex Party and chief executive of Australia’s national adult industry body, the Eros Association, told The Age it was “unfair that adult shops must jump through myriad hoops to get planning approval and are strictly regulated yet mainstream stores sell the same products without having to adhere to similar regulations”.
But, more than the threat of prosecution for illegal sale of sex toys it was the threat of a boycott by the powerful Christian lobby that led Woolworths to abruptly withdraw the Bullet from sale.
Unless it starts buying into brothels or overtakes a chain like Club X it seems unlikely there will be an alliance between the supermarket giants and the sex industry any time soon.
It’s probably just as well.
Imagine the offspring: Snap, Crackle, Swap.