Rare and Racy was a second-hand book and vinyl records shop that traded on Devonshire Street in Sheffield. It had been in business for as long as I could remember (in fact it had been trading since long before I was old enough to visit – since 1969 in fact). It wasn’t a place I frequented all that often, but I went in on a number of occasions and it was a real treasure-trove of stuff – filled with interesting shelf-lined nooks and crannies and every inch of free wall-space covered in photographs, artworks and other ephemera. The outside building was also decorated by a range of interesting street-art pieces by local artist Phlegm.
Sadly, the decision was taken by the local council to re-develop the row of building in which Rare and Racy (and several other quirky independent shops) were located and, despite a large public outcry and a petition signed by 20 thousand people, it ceased trading a year or two back. So far there is little sign of any re-development work having begun, and it’s a sad sight to behold now. Given the homogenisation of the high street in Sheffield (and across the country), with ubiquitous and interchangeable chain-stores taking up ever more space (plus the invevitable decline in footfall as a result of online shopping), it’s a crying shame that independent retailers that can bring a sense of interest and diversity to our city centres are not given the opportunity to thrive.
I remember a time when visiting another town or city would be a bit of an adventure with a whole array of shops, bars and restaurants that were completely different to what you had at home. But it’s now increasingly the case that most places are just the same set of retailers arranged in a different street layout.
So, here’s a photo of Rare and Racy as it looked last weekend, and if you want a bit of a virtual look inside as it was a few years ago, here’s a video.
As an aside, I’ve only noticed today just how tall the girl at the left of the image is! Either that, or the couple at the right are small!
Olympus 35 RC & Ilford HP5+.
Taken on 21 July 2019