Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Specialist Outlets

Arvo is correct, one of the true joys of Birmingham is that whatever you need, you can find. Somewhere, in some back ally or trading estate, there will be a small industrial unit entirely devoted to selling nothing but the item you require.

Once Graeme had persuaded a Social Club to sell us their reserve Bingo Ball Blower for Bingo In The House Of Babel (“what could possibly befall your frontline blower?") we needed to put it on casters. A bit of research took us to Allways who claim – with little fear of contradiction – to be Faster For A Caster. A small unfurnished reception area houses a display line of casters and ends in a counter giving tantalising views into the unit proper; floor to ceiling metal racks rammed with casters – a delight.

Tuckers Glass in Sparkbrook is By Appointment as well, having delivered five sizable mirrors for The Black Maze. There’s the water pump place out in Hall Green that Craig has kept as his personal trauma enshrouded secret; the friendly electrical trade place on Stratford Road that, I’m sorry to say, has been usurped by the intimidating SND Electrics in the more convenient Gun Quarter. If we want to impress visitors we don’t take them to admire our Great Civic Architecture, we take them directly to Express Polythene the DRIVE–THROUGH plastics retailer – good for Gaffa Tape, pond-liner and much more besides.

Now add to this roll of honour LVP Packaging Ltd on Florence Street, yards from New Street Station. We’ve spent a deal of time there recently sizing up cardboard boxes for the Fruit and Veg City diorama. Their roller shutter is always raised, leaving them open to the street, which is a welcoming start. They have a great range of boxes to choose from, display boxes sit on great looming stacks of their unassembled selves. To be let loose in such a specialist environment is a rare privilege.

The show is looking good. On Friday everything the kids came up with looked like a load of chopped up vegetables dumped in some cardboard boxes. Now the piles of chopped up vegetables are starting to look like buildings you would recognise or cities you would love to live in. Roll on Thursday.


It's like a light industrial Silicon valley.
Arvo used his wide knowlege of Allways castors as chat up material on one of our first dates. The long winter evenings just fly by :).
Some of the things sold in these caverns of variety and plenty are possibly made in the East Midlands. Visits to my Dad often involve long tours around light engineering/manufacturing units, frequently on the edge of provisional looking housing estates, in the transitional zone between victorian drone-hutches with poisoned gardens and the castrol-green occult fens that seperate them from the A47 and the bright bright retail parks. Looking into these units is like looking into the early bronze age, smelting, cursing, hammering, piles of bright metals in peaty dark, one which seems to deep-fry chairs in the vast deep-fryer from Carry On Screaming. People down here in the south think Britain doesn't make anything anymore.
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