For me going shopping is a chore, not a leisure activity. So it’s unusual for me to be blogging about my favourite shop. It’s not Harrods, or Harvey Nicks, it’s not, Broad Canvas the art material shop in Oxford, although that comes a close second to my very favourite shop in the world: Evenlode DIY in Eynsham, Oxfordshire.
I went in there yesterday (it’s just round the corner from my house) to get a key cut for £3 (they charge £8 at the key cutter in Oxford) and it occurred to me that this must be the best shop in the world. It’s an Aladdin’s cave which sells lots of exceptionally useful and wonderful things, displayed, if that’s the word- in a gloriously ramshackle and utilitarian way. Balls of string hang from the ceiling, jostling for position with hand tools, washing up brushes, electrical bits and bobs, bird seed, scissors and kitchen utensils. Colourful bedding plants greet you as you walk in, tempting you towards the garden supplies, pet food, bits to fix your bike, dog leads and strange solvents and chemical compositions to fix whatever it is you need to mend. Paint brushes festoon the walls next to boxes of screws, hinges and lengths of wire. They sell Christmas trees in December, they’ll sharpen your shears, mix any colour of paint you want and cut timber and glass to size for you. They’ll sell you one nail if that’s what you want. And if you want a 3″ copper phlanged thingummybob for your oohjammaflip, they’ll probably have one in a dusty box somewhere hiding in a corner. And if they haven’t got it, they’ll get it in for you.
Opened 35 years ago by Eynsham resident Robin Saunders, he still runs Evenlode DIY cheerily and helpfully, whistling while he works. And everything here is way, way cheaper than those hideous, unhelpful, faceless out-of-town DIY superstores.
It will be a very sad day indeed when Evenlode DIY, and other independent local mercantiles just like it are finally squeezed out by the likes of B&Q and Homebase.