Everyone needs a bit of retail therapy now and again, but when you have kids it doesn’t happen that often does it? Clarks Village Outlet Shopping in Street, Somerset is celebrating its 25th year and we headed over to check out the shops and grab a bargain. If you’re in the South West and like shopping, read on…
I can remember visiting Clarks Village when it first opened in ’93. I would have been around 12 years old, my brother 8, and I have to admit that I don’t particularly have fond memories of it. We used to hate going shopping at the weekends with our parents and inevitably ended up arguing and driving our poor parents crazy. My main memory is also opening a packet of sweets and dropping them all over the floor.
Back then there wasn’t a huge amount there, I only really remember the Marks & Spencer and a Clarks shoe shop – perfect for getting boring back to school essentials during the summer holidays. Fast forward 25 years and I was much more excited to be paying a visit to the shopping outlet as I love to shop and had seen that there was now a lot more there.
It’s funny to think that I’m now visiting with my own daughter, luckily she was much more excited about the trip than we were as kids, mainly because she heard there was a Claire’s Accessories, Hamleys and The Works amongst other favourites.
The drive to Street from Bournemouth is around 90 minutes and it was an easy journey with hardly any traffic. Parking at Clarks Village is just £3 for 5 hours which for us is much cheaper than parking in town.
We visited on a lovely sunny day which I was worried we were going to waste by going shopping, but the village is all outdoors like the American shopping outlets and there’s plenty of places to get a drink or an ice cream. There’s even a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck which we obviously had to stop at.
Our first stops were The Works and Claire’s Accessories for Little H where she spent some of her pocket money. While Little H and the husband were looking at toys I headed to the Beauty Outlet which is a make-up addict’s heaven! I was a bit like a kid in a candy store choosing what to buy and you can see why from these photos…
We don’t have a huge amount of men’s shops in town so the husband was pleased with all the stores such as Vans, North Face, Timberland and Superdry. There are so many shops that we don’t have in Bournemouth so it was nice to be able to visit somewhere a bit different.
There are over 90 stores offering up to 60% discount on normal prices. I did find that some of the stores like Next didn’t seem to be too heavily discounted, but others were massively reduced. The kids’ clothes in Gap were great prices and I got Little H three t-shirts for £14. I bought myself a lovely summer dress from Superdry for £25 which is much cheaper than normal, and the husband bought a t-shirt in Vans for £16.
Once we were all shopped out we headed to the food quarter where you can choose from Frankie & Benny’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Prezzo and Pizza Express. We picked Prezzo and had a lovely lunch sat outside in the sun. If you don’t fancy a big meal there are also food carts dotted around the village selling things like jacket potatoes, hot dogs, crepes and ice creams.
Before we headed home we stopped at the amazing King Arthurs Forest – a huge play area with a Costa Coffee right next door. Little H had great fun playing while we sat with a drink. The park is a great bribery tool if you do have to persuade your kids to traipse around the shops with you.
On our way out we just had to stop at the Cadbury’s store, Little H’s face lit up when she saw it! It’d be rude not to buy something and we opted for a bag of Mis-Shapes and were given some free chocolates too.
We arrived at Clarks Village at 12pm and didn’t leave until 5pm – there wasn’t a single mention of “I’m bored” from the little one or the husband which is pretty amazing.
On the drive home I asked Little H what her favourite bit was, she said “The Works. And the gadget shop. And getting Ben & Jerry’s. And the Cadbury shop. Oh and the park”. I think it’s safe to say she had a good time.
If you’re not too far from Street we’d definitely recommend a visit to Clarks Village – just make sure you have a fair bit of money to take with you as there are so many great shops! We’ve already said we’ll be heading back the next time we have some money to spend.
* I was given a £25 voucher by Clarks Village in return for this review, however, all opinions are honest and my own.