Sometimes, you have to dig a bit to find real treasures. A cult film, an out-of-print book, an unsigned local band, or, in this case, the best shop in the world.
Bargains Galore, tucked away in the middle of a shopping street in Holyhead, looks like an unassuming souvenir and general odds ‘n’ ends shop. You’d be forgiven for walking past the buckets and spades, and the odd jackets, without giving it a second glance. You’d also be making a huge mistake.
Bargains Galore is no ordinary tat shop. Step inside its TARDIS-like interior, and you’re presented with a wonderland of retro paraphernalia, toys and collectibles.
There is no discernible order to Bargains Galore: nothing has any particular place, shelves are groaning under the weight of decades of stock; novelty ashtrays jostle for position with Christmas decorations and Ken dolls.
This doesn’t mean to be a retro shop, it’s just become one by accident. The owners clearly don’t like to part with old stock, and for that I will always be grateful to them. While it’s a shame that they possibly don’t realise what they have here, the fact that everything is jumbled and dusty just adds to the shop’s charm. If you’re a fan of 80s and 90s toys/pop culture/anything, I guarantee you a glorious few hours spent kneeling on the floor of the shop, fighting your way to the backs of shelves, and gasping in wonder because you’ve found an Edd the Duck keyring. You’ll come away with armfuls of stuff and not the slightest bit of buyer’s remorse.
You know what? I’ll just shut up and show you some pictures.
Around half the shop is toys, packed into every available space. Figures from long-forgotten films, pre-school toys featuring franchises like Henry’s Cat, handheld water ring games, and strange, incomprehensible knock-offs.
Under one of the shelves is a huge collection of books and general flat goods. ‘Magic painting’ books, velvet art, and story tapes featuring such delights as Bananaman and Go-Bots. Last time I was there I picked up this bad boy:
There are a couple of obscure annuals under there, for shows like Strike Force, and a stack of Tony Hart scrapbooks. Because I am a child, I laughed at where they’d put the price sticker.
For some reason, I didn’t buy this ‘space phazer’. I suspect I’m going to lie awake at night regretting this. Also, hundreds of packs of ‘Tallon’ felt tips.
Is this dude from The Running Man? He was in a basket with some swimming cowboys.
Toys, toys and more toys:
The other sections of the shop are crammed with household goods, novelty gifts and ornaments. These cups are from 1991:
I haven’t seen these hedgehog desk tidies since I was running round with my finger up my nose and weeing myself. AKA last time I visited the shop.
Handheld games, a walkman/video game combo, a Noddy personal stereo (in the corner), a pack of ‘Blopens’, and some 90s scrunchies:
The shop is also festooned with keyrings – Disney characters, Pokemon, Sesame Street, and old Star Trek (also Boglin-type creatures, their squeezy eyes long dead). These live next to 90s bubble bath, ‘sun moon stars’ decorations, and paper cups.
I’ve only scratched the surface of this amazing shop; it would take many, many hours to properly do this collection justice. Sadly, I can only go a couple of times a year. If I lived a bit nearer, I suspect I’d have pitched a tent outside by now.
This is one of my favourite ever buys from Bargains Galore. It was hidden at the back of one of the top shelves. Well worth the peril I had to go through to reach it:
And this is what I bought today, because I am cool:
If you’re around North Wales (and if you’re not), I urge you to pay a visit to Bargains Galore and see what treasures you can unearth. The owner tells me that business is slow, because no one really knows it’s there. It would be a hell of shame to see this shop go under for lack of exposure, so I’m doing my bit to rally nerds everywhere to turn up with a pocket full of cash and and a sense of adventure.
Bargains Galore is a retro geek’s paradise. If I can play a part, however small, in bringing this shop to people’s attention, and maybe sending some much-deserved business their way, then I will be a happy woman. Just leave me one of those Barbie cups for next time I go.
Bargains Galore: 26 – 30 Market Street, Holyhead, Gwynedd. Pack some sandwiches and have a road trip. You won’t regret it.