The Lost Precinct Advent Calendar – #17: Texas Homecare

I don’t want a lover, just four tins of non-drip gloss

The Ad of Christmas Past

Can’t you tell we’re in 1981? Quasi-computer style special effects, Dungeons and Dragons themed imagery. Oh, and those delightful vector style graphics. I love these early 1980s effects and the synthesised music (see also the opening titles of The Krypton Factor with Mike Moran’s synth heavy score).

Our advert starts off with fire breathing dragons emerging from a pound sign. Then, our brave shopper tries to slay the demons for the sake of a 5 litre tub of Polyripple (marked down from the RRP of £12.99 to £9.99). Today, B&Q charge £25.98 a tub. Though the present price sounds expensive, the RRP if pegged to 1981 price levels could be £49.84 – or £38.33 at Texas’ price (ouch).

The Shop of Christmas Past

Texas Homecare was among a wave of new-fangled edge-of-town shed based supercentres. Founded in 1972 – only three years after B&Q – Gerald, Manny and Sydney Fogel created Texas Homecare after visiting similar stores in the U.S. of A. Higher volume and lower margin DIY products was their raison d’etre.

As with their contemporaries, they insisted on having sales around Bank Holidays. In the mid-1980s, their stores were relaunched with a modern sans-serif typeset logo and liberal use of red, white and blue. A new selection of adverts eschewed the aggressive approach (a la Queensway and MFI) with a backstory around a character called Texas Tom. Customers could ‘ask for Tom’ with Country and Western style music used to push upmarket products.

Sadly, neither Texas Tom nor Tom Baker (who voiced a 1987 ad) could stop the chain from acquisition. The late-1980s to early-1990s recession affected the business which led to its acquisition by J. Sainsbury plc under the Homebase name. The nearest one to Stockport was just off the roundabout facing The Navigation pub and Nelstrop’s Flour Mill. A small number of Texas Homecare stores were converted to the Homebase format.

Today, the Homebase chain has changed hands; it is now part of Home Retail Group, Argos’ parent company. As proof of this, Bredbury’s branch now has an Argos store next door to Homebase, with its other neighbour being a branch of Morrisons that was… formerly a Safeway store.

S.V., 17 December 2015.

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