Forget the arcades of the 80s - remember the computer shops

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woody.cool
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Post by woody.cool » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:53 am

When I used to live in Banbury, Oxfordshire - we had a shop called "Soft Spot" which sold shed loads of games and computers. You had to go up a very narrow staircase (if I remember correctly there was an Argos and an arcade underneath it)

I used to get all my Amstrad CPC and Commodore 16 games from there.
They even stocked Amstrad CPC Disc games (remember them strange 3" discs that you had to turn over to access the over side)

I also saw the launch of the Commodore C64GS (the pretty crap Commodore 64 games console) in that shop. I remember playing games on there C64GS shop model but can't remember what games they had on it.

Eventually the shop closed down. It never saw too many games from the 16 and 32-bit eras cos it had closed a bit before then (when we finally got games on the shelves in proper retail shops)

When "Soft Spot" closed I had to go to Boots or WHSmiths to get games. When they stopped doing it I had to go all the way to Welsbourne Market to get games.

We also had a few more independant computer game shops open and close in the centre - these types of shop were the only places to get Amiga games - other towns had retail shops stocking Amiga and Atari ST stuff but not in Banbury. Otherwise it was mail order for my precious miggy games.

Now they have a HMV, a Game and a GameStation.

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revgiblet
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Post by revgiblet » Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:57 am

woody.cool wrote:When I used to live in Banbury, Oxfordshire - we had a shop called "Soft Spot" which sold shed loads of games and computers. You had to go up a very narrow staircase (if I remember correctly there was an Argos and an arcade underneath it)
I remember Soft Spot! I used to live in Brackley and would always pop in when the parents dragged me shopping in Banbury. I bought Vigilante for my Atari ST there - rubbish, but at least it worked on my single-sided drive. I also picked up Parasol Stars on the ST for about £10 which was a great game and well worth the money.

Brackley had one shop called Cuddley's during the 8-bit era. It was essentially a toy shop but it had a massive selection of budget games.
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woody.cool
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Post by woody.cool » Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:12 am

revgiblet wrote:
woody.cool wrote:When I used to live in Banbury, Oxfordshire - we had a shop called "Soft Spot" which sold shed loads of games and computers. You had to go up a very narrow staircase (if I remember correctly there was an Argos and an arcade underneath it)
I remember Soft Spot! I used to live in Brackley and would always pop in when the parents dragged me shopping in Banbury. I bought Vigilante for my Atari ST there - rubbish, but at least it worked on my single-sided drive. I also picked up Parasol Stars on the ST for about £10 which was a great game and well worth the money.

Brackley had one shop called Cuddley's during the 8-bit era. It was essentially a toy shop but it had a massive selection of budget games.
WOW! Somebody else actually remembers Soft Spot. My friend from Banbury don't even remember the place. You shouldn't of got Vigilante on ST - it's pretty pants, but the Amiga version is a bit better (not by much)

Parasol Stars - Now there IS a game, I love Parasol Stars (and I still play that some time on my Amiga) but I much prefer Rainbow Islands (that music is wicked).

The main issues back then was - I had the Amiga 500+ and my bro had the Atari 520ST - so the Amiga vs Atari war everybody had in the playground at school was suddenly brought home. I now am the prowd owner of both machines. I liked the Amiga better at the time :P but the ST does have it's merits!

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revgiblet
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Post by revgiblet » Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:50 am

woody.cool wrote:The main issues back then was - I had the Amiga 500+ and my bro had the Atari 520ST - so the Amiga vs Atari war everybody had in the playground at school was suddenly brought home. I now am the prowd owner of both machines. I liked the Amiga better at the time :P but the ST does have it's merits!
Well, I bought a cheap ST on impulse because I was so keen to move into the 16-bit era. I eventually got an Amiga, and that was the better machine as far as I was concerned - simply because the Amiga was better catered for in the games department.
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Dark Reaper
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Post by Dark Reaper » Tue Jun 27, 2006 8:02 am

backdrifter wrote:It's gone now, of course. In fact, as far as I know, there's bugger all game store wise in Sheffield outside the shops on The Moor and in Meadowhall. So if anyone knows of anywhere, let me know!
There's one in Castle Market called Castle Games. Not a bad little place.

My most frequent haunt when I was growing up (apart from the John Menzies game section) was Software Superstore in Warrington. Many a Saturday afternoon when I should probably have been getting healthy exercise and making friends was spent in there. :D
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Post by renegade » Thu Jun 29, 2006 6:41 pm

What a brilliant topic ;

I first saw a computer in WH Smiths in the shopping arcade in Bath. They had all these computers - Speccy's and Amstrads playing 'Batman' up on top of their shelves - I was totaly transfixed by the screen! And thus WH Smith's became a very special place to me.

While my parents would drag me into town on Saturdays I would spend hours looking through the shelves - the games floor itself was on the top floor and I would RUN like a maniac to reach the top of the stairs - my eyes greeted by the sight of games upon games lining the shelves.

I LOVED that top floor - and wish so badly it was still there - exactly as it used to be! LOL

Also...

Weston Super Mare - Does anyone else remember all the market stalls selling Amstrad / Speccy tapes?

I used to be in absolute heaven when we went to WSM - I would get to spend a little money and loads of time in these shops/ markets and read the inlay of my chosen game ALL the way home - foolishly thinking - everytime, without fail - that the graphics would live up to the front cover!

Still - amazing days - I dont think the games were more special then - I think my blind enthusiasm has waned slightly!

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Post by knight_beat » Sun Jul 02, 2006 5:56 pm

Two shops that come to mind:

Console Concepts in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. They're better known for their adverts in Mean Machines. The shop itself was dingy. You went to the back of the ground floor and descended into a large basement. Sega games were on the right, SNES games on the left. They also sold Amiga PD software, which introduced me to several rubbish Street Fighter 2 clones. The staff would always recommend rubbish beat-em-ups if you asked them to recommend a game.

A memorable event was meeting Jarrod Bentley in the store, who had recently finished graphic work on Turbo the Tortoise. He kindly gave me an original copy of the game specs and early character designs. I have them at home, but I can't find them to scan.

Micro Education (?) in Hanley. The shop itself was plain. It is only memorable because I remember playing Pacman on the BBC micro for the first time.

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yakmag
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Post by yakmag » Tue Jul 04, 2006 12:40 pm

There was a little shop in Scunthorpe that I used to frequent as a yoof, it was down Frodingham Road, alas cannot remember the name :oops:

Used to stock ST and Amiga stuff, used to be a frequent shopper there, so much so I used to get special deals on Amiga games....

Lords of the Rising Sun AND Rocket Ranger for 30 quid anyone?

Also Balance of Power and Lurking Horror for 20 quid.

These are the main ones I remember, as they were brilliant games!!

(and they were ALL originals!!)

Don't know how long they managed to stay in business!! :shock:

Just imagine trying to cut that sort of a deal today in Game or EB :D :D

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OriginalJax
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Post by OriginalJax » Tue Jul 04, 2006 1:21 pm

I remember a little store in the Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle. It was called (somewhat unoriginally) "The Computer Shop" - and it sold computers, games, mags, peripherals... Basically what EB/Game sells now... but with a more nerdy feel. I think they folded once consoles started taking more of a hold over here. Shame :(

And in those days, Boots and WH Smith had computer departments, but the way the stores were organized, these deparments were more like mini stores within a store. They were pretty good, too. Anybody else remember?

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Post by Browncat » Wed Jul 05, 2006 12:34 pm

I remember the 'Alladins Cave' I think that was what it was called in Witney Oxford. It had loads of games in the 90's that were retro then, I bought Tusker for the C64 in there before it closed. In the middle of the shop was a big pile of computers boxed and unboxed; ST, Amstrad, C64, Amiga etc. A big pissed off looking bloke ran it on the door was a sign reading 'No more than two school children allowed in at any time.' It was a really serious shop.
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Post by felicemaggie » Wed Jul 05, 2006 6:38 pm

Growing up in Bedford at the time, we had a number of independent computer stores over the years. Even though they had a number of stores elsewhere, Software Plus was a good place for quite a while, not just for the stock they had on sale there but the people behind the counter too. Chas, Phil Doyle and another guy called Martin are the ones I recall from back then. Sadly the store is no longer there, having been flattened since some entirely junky chav-end "supermarket" took over the entire area where it was in the Boulevards and there is not a sausage left.

But the best independent store we had there for a good few years was known as "Dowling Computers". They sold just about anything for all formats, no matter how small or large the market was in those days. They specialised mainly in ST and Amiga stuff but supported Spectrum, Commodore and Amstrad too, along with a brief couple of shelves containing MSX software.

Hardware was also stocked by them. They were in the internal shopping centre in Bedford, down the circular ramp. It is true that what occupies the store where they were is now a sandwich bar :(

Sadly, Dowling went to the big computer dealer in the sky during the recession of the early 1990's, which hit harder in Bedford compared to elsewhere at the time for reasons that can be laid at the door of the county council. The town not having good road links to the rest of the country did not help; firms were closing their Bedford offices (even if they weren't going under) and as a result, to find jobs and a more secure future, I moved over to Cambridge and have never looked back.

Merman mentioned the Cambridge Computer Centre; it was a shame I missed them although I do recall them, having bought an ST from Mill Road's 'Cambridge Resale' store some years ago, the boxes for both the hires monitor and ST itself were covered in their labels.

Cheers,

Felice.
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Post by Smurph » Thu Jul 06, 2006 5:26 am

I live near Belfast and my fave indy was the Model Shop (apart from the smell of sweaty fat blokes) because it sold model planes and Speccy games, my two great loves at the time. There was another indy on the same street, and an arcade across the road with Ghosts and Goblins in, so I was a happy bunny.
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Post by felgekarp » Thu Jul 06, 2006 6:27 am

Coming from Sheffield the obvious one is Just Micro, where I used to spend many a Saturday, there also used to be one down the road from me called Newline, which as well as selling games you could also pay for time on machines, I think it was something like 10p for ten minutes, they had a C64, a Spectrum, a C16 and I think an Amstrad or a BBC Micro. The shop also used to stay open till about 8 at night so I spent many a night in there with my school mates playing Olympic/Winter games on the C64.

*

Post by * » Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:58 pm

The Computer Store in Halifax... I bought most of my Spectrum games (and maybe a few early Gameboy games) there. Unfortunately my strongest memories of that place are of the perennial copy of Samantha Fox Strip Poker on the Spectrum shelf and having to take new joysticks back repeatedly because they didn't work. I can't even remember exactly when it closed down, though I suspect that its closure may have been due to staff being driven nuts by the sound effects from the upright Hard Drivin' machine in the corner. :lol:
That really is a bloody awful sounding game, and as uncomfortable as hell to sit in, if memory serves. The seat is basically an upside down plastic bin with no padding. :lol:

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Re:

Post by fraser1 » Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:39 pm

OriginalJax wrote:I remember a little store in the Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle. It was called (somewhat unoriginally) "The Computer Shop" - and it sold computers, games, mags, peripherals... Basically what EB/Game sells now... but with a more nerdy feel. I think they folded once consoles started taking more of a hold over here. Shame :(

And in those days, Boots and WH Smith had computer departments, but the way the stores were organized, these deparments were more like mini stores within a store. They were pretty good, too. Anybody else remember?

O-Jax
That's the store i used to take back my faulty sms games ,games that i had opened up and snapped some of the legs off the rom chips .

On my fourth faulty game exchange visit ,they brought a screw driver out :shock: and began to open the cart, at this point two little voices in my head were heard ,one said LEGGIT , the other told me to stay and face the music .

So i decided to stay and witness the Rampage cart being opened to find :oops: the damaged chip ,they asked me about this & all i could say was " it must have been my brother who did that" but they knew i did it and gave me the game back ,off i went ,head down feeling a right fool and going home with a broken game instead of a brand new different game.

I kept that rampage cart for ten years as a sort of trophy of stupidity.

After the computer shop closed, not long after the mega drive was released, we all used to go to charlies games up on west gate road/hill,they were a top independent store ,not only did they sell and buy console games but they were also a second hand shop so you could get yourself a few added extras like a big 25" 4/3 tele ( scratched and a few chips out of the frame) quality times.

As the consoles really began to take off big time they moved further up the bank and had a more technolgy focused gaff instead of the old, dodgy smelling junk look ,later in the stores life they sent some of their staff to the states to buy up loads of Atari jag import machines, with their 100% certain belief that these would be the next big thing ,years later when they moved again to the Green market they still had these cases full of the unsold jags.

When they moved to the green market they opened one shop that only dealt with the Sega ,Nintendo & dvd side but they also opened a shop 2 doors across that only sold the Sony consoles & games , also by now they had stores in other parts of the region as word had spread that fast that CHARLIES GAMES was thee place to go for cheaper priced gaming , brand new stuff , trade ins and now imports 8) ,they only dealt in the video game side by now as there was no need to flog dodgy stereos anymore,they had now become a chain of games stores with a huge well respected rep,( hell they were now as much a part of newcastle as NUFC was )bought my jap dreamcast , sega rally 2 & vmu which cost me about £400 from them too.

I first discovered charlies second hand shop when i was about 14/15 , about 2 years ago i just found out that they closed all their stores ,the owners charlie & his wife steph and one of their sons upped and went to live in the house they had in spain, while their other son craig stayed here with his bird,by this time i was 28 so the business had been going for a good long time from what they first began as.

Great people to talk and have a laugh with,great shops for your console needs & they also stuffed the local Game and Electronic boutique stores in in every area , stock choice,trade in ,price :P

There'll never be days like those again.

...............................................................................................

A bit long but it's a good episode from my past to share.
Last edited by fraser1 on Sat Dec 30, 2006 2:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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