There comes a time in every Londoner’s life where they’re forced to, against all odds, go down to Primark on Oxford Street for some reason or another.
Primark stores are an entity in and of themselves and are their own micro-planet. They’re all crowded. They all smell. There is always a baby crying its head off somewhere in the store. There are no exceptions; trust me, I’m not making generalisations here. Those of you who have already succumbed to the gravitational pull of cheap prices and tatty clothes already know what I’m talking about.
I’ve been to a few London-based Primarks… Croydon, Southside, Tooting Broadway to name a few. And they all are well and truly the same. Clothes hangers litter the floor, items are strewn carelessly about and they never ever have your size in that one particular dress that you came there for. It’s like magic. Oh, and while you’re there, purposefully for one item, you seem to remember that you need about a billion other things. And why not, you think? It’s all so damn cheap!
Anyhow, yesterday I conquered a huge fear of mine. Other than one other (very) fleeting time with N, I have never been brave enough to dare the experience that simply is the flagship store on Oxford Street. If you know me at all, you know I hate (and fear) large crowds of people in small spaces. There are days I can’t even do the Tube, people. For me, going to the Oxford Street Primark was like telling me I was about to be thrust on a submarine meant for 4 with 4,000 people. It’s a special kind of hell for me.
Sadly, I didn’t have much in the way of choices. I’m at an 80s club with friends tonight and while I had a top and skirt already, I needed tights, a tank top and accessories galore. I’m broke and had three hours free last night and the office is only a 20 minute bus-ride away. How the heck else was I supposed to deck myself out in neon 80s splendour?
The people. God, I just felt like crying, it was all so overwhelming. This is coming from the girl who avoids the Tube at all costs and some days can’t even bring herself to leave the flat. Like today? I’m having oatmeal for lunch because I can’t be faced with going out to the shop to pick something up. I’m saving all of my energy and sanity for tonight’s 80s club excursion.
So let me give you a play by play of the Primark Oxford Street experience.
Entering the store, it was literally like diving into a sea of people. I’ve heard that expression before, but never did I actually get it until yesterday. Never in my life have I been around so many people in such a small (three floors!) space.
Right away, I spotted a fluorescent yellow top and nabbed it. I wanted to thrust it up skyward and scream “mine!” but that would have been weird. Instead I mentally patted myself on the back and congratulated myself for not (yet) going crazy. It was easy so far… deceptively so.
Then I spotted a way cute dress. Not what I came for but thus is the magnetic pull of Primark. Into the bag it went to try on later.
After some difficulty, I found the hottest hot pink pair of tights you’ve ever seen (oh yeah, baby) and, with additional struggle, black leggings in my size (needed ‘em).
Off to the dressing room to try on the cute dress that I didn’t need. Nope. The line for the fitting room was so long I’d still be there. Cute dress went back on the nearest rail.
Got confused and tried to go up the down escalators, at which point I felt my bravery and resolve slipping and I wanted to cry.
Finally made it to the 2nd floor without further incident for shoes. Let me just pause here and point out that there are plenty of places to sit and try on shoes in Primark. However, let me also point out that there is a special level of hell reserved for all those bastards on their fat bottoms using the those seats to rest whilst their children run rampant, climbing shelves, knocking things over and causing mayhem. Were those women trying on shoes? Nope. No joke, there were more people trying on shoes flamingo style than there were people sitting down and actually trying on shoes. I found a pair in my size and just chucked them into the basket. It was a gamble but thankfully it paid off.
Accessories next and I gotta say ‘well done’ to Primark. I had my pick of tacky neon necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Score!
And then… the queue. It was a mile long and I felt my will to live beginning to slip. I started live-tweeting my mental breakdown. 25 minutes. That’s how long I was in the line to check out. People were sending their friends/family/partners to stand in the line for them while they shopped and then joined them later. Ridiculous.
Now. Imagine doing all of that only 3 people deep, no matter where you turn. That is Primark Oxford Street.
But… when forced with a last minute decision to go to an 80s club and not having anything to wear, where did I turn? Primark. Because at the end of the day it’s cheap, garish and there’s a plethora of stuff around to choose from. If you can get to it, that is. For one offs, you could do worse (and more expensive).
If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1. Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.