So I want to tell you about Poundland. It is a pound shop, or what you might know as a dollar store, depending on where you live. It is the biggest of the British pound shops. It is a British institution, being 25 years old, and is apparently a secret that we keep from ourselves. There’s one near me that I never went into before today because it just looked like an absolutely horrible environment, with merchandise all over the floor, and I didn’t believe that they’d have any brand names in there that I recognised. I don’t want fake, knock-off, carcinogenic products and stale food, that’s not what I want to spend my pounds on, I’m not destitute. That pretty much sums up the expectations I had of it based on what I could see from the street.
Well, I was wrong about Poundland. I was not necessarily wrong about the store environment, depending on where you live, but I was wrong about the products. I see that now. I gave it a chance because it’s been showing up on my radar just lately.
First, Tatler magazine went there, and liked it. Tatler is a disgustingly posh magazine that is read by people like the actual Queen, it really is for what’s left of the British aristocracy and is not for the likes of me, none of the people featured in its pages would let me in to any of their elite cocktail parties that they’re constantly having. It is full of people with names like Sophia Money-Coutts whose fathers are earls and barons. Therefore, as unpleasant and elitist as it may be, if Tatler says Poundland is a worthwhile shop, that is worth taking notice of, because Very Posh People love a bargain but they don’t love cheap shit.
Secondly, Poundland recently launched a range of cosmetics called Make-Up Gallery. It was reviewed by magazines such as Cosmopolitan and they gave it top marks. Even Vogue liked it – more posh-person endorsement, if it were needed. Everyone is talking about it. Vogue especially endorsed the foundation (which is incredible, when you think about it, foundation is difficult to do well and is one item that beauty editors normally tell you not to skimp on), the liquid eyeliner and the nail polishes. Cosmopolitan raved about the liquid eyeliner and the lipstick.
I went into Poundland when I was in Abingdon yesterday and I was absolutely amazed. Amazed, I tell you.
It completely revised my opinion of the store. There was nothing wrong with the store environment, it was full of bona fide big-name brands and I cannot fault it on any level. Today I went into my local Poundland in North London, in case the Abingdon one was some sort of miracle. Here, the store environment was pretty horrible, I am not going to lie. It was extremely cramped and crowded. The shelves were chaotic and half-stocked, with huge chunks of stock missing. There was stuff being kicked about on the floor. It was pretty disgraceful. I didn’t get as far as investigating the food aisle because once I’d stocked up on household cleaning products I just wanted to get out of there, HOWEVER, the bargains were so genuinely amazing that I will never buy household items from my usual supermarket again. It is Poundland all the way from now on. I will just make a point of going there at the crack of dawn when it’s not busy and hopefully there’s been some kind of attempt at stocking the shelves and tidying up.
Let me show you what I got. Firstly, items from their Christmas range, which I would have expected to be horrible, and which aren’t horrible at all. After that I’ll show you some beauty items and little craft things. Finally, an impressive haul of household essentials, in which I’ll do a price comparison with my usual supermarket, so you can see the difference.
Poundland’s surprisingly tasteful and not-horrible range of Christmas items include the following. I’ve already decorated my tree and wrapped my gifts so I’m saving most of these items for next year. At £1 for everything, these prices are way, way lower than my normal supermarket can manage even during the rock bottom of its January sale.
Velvet bows for the tree with wire ties (will look nice next year). Tartan tree decorations. I will use both of these on the tree next year.
Those pink and gold bell-shaped decorations are solid glass, not plastic.
See those gift tags. Immediately after Christmas, in the January sale, my supermarket will offer gift tags at the discounted price of £1 for a pack of six. These are £1 for a pack of 30.
Nice wrapping paper, 9 metres for £1. Dark tartan, always tasteful at Xmas. I also like this pale blue stuff with the houses on it.
Large and very sturdy gift bags with tags, two for £1.
I think these DIY decoration kits are adorable and I’m going to wrap them when I’ve finished writing this post and include them with the gifts for my little nieces and nephews.
And finally, regarding the amazing Christmas deals, if you spend £3, like that’s gonna be hard, you get one of these huge bears for £5. Again, I wasn’t expecting nice quality, at all, but it is incredibly silky and cuddly. It clearly needs to go to one of the children for a Christmas gift. It has no drawbacks whatsoever except that it is big, so awkward to wrap and cart around. Maybe I will keep it here in my craft room and the first child to visit me can take it home with them.
Beauty & Craft Stuff
I decided to check out the Make Up Gallery range, not because I need lip gloss in every colour but because I know what my make-up staples are and if Poundland is going to supply them at £1 a pop and they are reasonably good, that will be the last time I buy expensive brands. I purchased these items not on the basis of what the reviewers said was the best of the range, but on the basis of what I actually use. I will get a liquid eyeliner if I see some in stock because I use that all the time. In the meantime, I am going to take a chance on the powder and the volumising mascara because these are also everyday items for me, so for £1 each I want to know for myself if they are acceptable quality. Also shown here: neutral eyeshadows, blusher, kohl pencil, eyebrow pencil. I didn’t get any lip gloss or lipstick but I will look next time because I do wear lip gloss regularly as well, usually in shades similar to the blushers that you see below.
Nail polishes. OK, this is where I was ready to be more adventurous. Usually I wear classic. plain red polish on my fingers and toes (every day, so I go through a lot). I don’t spend a lot of time on my nails doing transfers and fancy nail art effects because I am too busy with work and also I do household renovations and I swim which is not really compatible with manicures. But hell, Christmas is coming up, I have two weeks off work and it is the season for glitter. All the reviewers loved the Make Up Gallery polishes so I am going to try the purple one that you see below, centre, along with the Make Up Gallery glitter and base/top coat that you see immediately above the purple polish. If it does turn out to be nice quality then that will become my go-to brand because I use lots of nail polish and regularly have to replace bottles than have run out. I actually really want to try the hot orange colour in the Make Up Gallery nail polish range but it seems everyone else does too as it wasn’t in stock in either of the stores I visited in the last couple of days.
The off-brand glitter polishes on the left are just for fun and I thought the Minnie Mouse emery boards were a cute touch. I put all these items and all the make-up into a small Poundland gift bag and will open it at Christmas along with my satin shirt from New Look.
Oh, this. I am going to use this right away because it is cheaper and quicker than going for a haircut for keeping my hair out of my eyes. Sparkly jewelled hair comb, £1. I saw some almost identical items in Accessorize and they were £7 each. I tried this in my hair just now and it first it wouldn’t go in my fine hair just right, but then I found that the prongs are quite soft and bendy, so you can bend them into the right shape.
Reading glasses, £1. I’ve seen other stores charge up to £7 per pair for the same mass produced specs. This is the very first time I’ve seen them on sale for £1. I rarely need a +3.00 but sometimes they are useful if I’m doing hand sewing, looking at tiny Chinese characters or my eyes are just tired.
And now some craft stuff, because I love to make things. I was amazed how much Poundland has in the way of craft supplies. I restrained myself and just got a few things I can use to make cards and decorations and to embellish gifts next year.
This is heavy: there is a lot of coloured and textured card and paper in this pack.
Coloured tissue paper, useful for giftwrap as well as crafting.
And now for some real price-crunching. All these name brands are £1. Let’s see what they would have cost me in my nearest supermarkets. I live near Waitrose. It is not the cheapest store on the high street but it is the nearest and I don’t have a car, so that counts. If I can’t find a price from Waitrose, we’ll try Tesco and Sainsbury’s which are my next nearest stores.
Vim cream (kitchen and bathroom cleaner), 500ml. Poundland, £1. Waitrose Cif cream 500ml (nearest equivalent), £2.50.
Cif Acti-fizz multi-purpose cleaner, 750ml. Poundland, £1. Sainsbury’s price, identical brand/product, £1.50.
Surf washing powder, 440g. Poundland, £1. Tesco identical brand/product, £1.
Always sanitary towels, pack of 12 normal plus ultra. Poundland, £1. Tesco: identical brand, price calculated pro rata, £1.16.
Lil-lets Super Plus tampons, pack of 10. Poundland, £1. Waitrose, identical brand, price calculated pro rata, £1.25.
Beechams sore throat lozenges, pack of 20. Poundland, £1. Waitrose Strepsils (nearest equivalent), price pro rata, £3.08.
Beechams Cold & Flu sachets, pack of 5. Poundland, £1. Tesco, Beechams Cold & Flu Hot Lemon (nearest equivalent), price pro rata, £1.50.
2 rolls of white Andrex toilet paper. Poundland, £1. Waitrose, identical brand, price pro rata (from pack of 4 rolls), £1.
Jumbo roll of kitchen paper, 38m Poundland £1. Waitrose own brand kitchen roll, pro rata (this was the most difficult to calculate), £1.20.
Simple roll-on deodorant, 50ml. Poundland, £1. Waitrose identical brand, £2.13.
Imperial Leather bath cream, 500m. Poundland, £1. Waitrose, £2 – although there is currently a two-for-one offer.
Johnson’s Be Fresh & Energise shower gel, 400ml. Poundland, £1. Essential Waitrose own brand shower gel (my usual brand), price pro rata, £1.65.
Herbal Essences Bee Strong shampoo and conditioner, 200ml. Poundland, £1. Waitrose, identical brand, pro rata, £1.90.
Wisdom Whitening toothpaste, 100ml. Poundland, £1. Sainsbury’s, identical brand, £1.
SHOPPING BASKET OF 11 EVERYDAY HOUSEHOLD ITEMS:
MY USUAL SUPERMARKETS: £19.77
I think that says it all, don’t you? And thats why I will get ALL my non-grocery household items from Poundland from now on.
Next time I visit I will look at the food aisle and report back. You are welcome.
I think I’m going to collect a Finance point for doing all the price comparisons, which resulted in a good housekeeping decision. 1 Finance point.