Illustration © 2009 by Dave Carson
Forty years ago, two science fiction fans attending the regular monthly meetings at The Globe in Hatton Garden somehow got to talking about the possibilities of trading in SF. Ted Ball worked for an insurance company and Dave Gibson had come to London from his native Dundee seeking his fortune. For three years they borrowed space here and there, working with others of like mind and discovering that there was a market. In what must have seemed like a good idea at the time they gave up their jobs and rented a premises in Harlesden and Fantasy Centre was born. Thirty years ago, the business relocated to the much upmarket Holloway Road.
More than twenty years amongst the London heathen was enough for any Scotsman and Dave was ready to return to Dundee. Coincidentally Erik Arthur came along flush with his redundancy pay after 29 years with a proper job and money changed hands. Many friends among the customers helped to (re)decorate (!) the store and in another revolution credit cards became acceptable. The business had 600 devotees of the mailorder catalogue, and folk would leave the store with a rucksack full of paperbacks. The world of SF fandom and in particular of conventions added entertainment, a wider audience and too many hours driving dodgy trucks up the M1. It was possible to indulge in buying trips to the USA, on one occasion shipping back one ton of books.
Come the late 90s and with the internet came the real revolution when the seeker after trifles could find almost anything for sale somewhere . . . people lost the habit of actually going to shops, the buyer ruled. . . . the age of tea and sympathy from the proprietors no longer sufficient draw.
Our thanks to all those who have supported us. Over the years casual customers have become regulars, regulars have have become friends. It's been more than merely selling stuff, more a way of life. It's been a good run.
|TED BALL DAVE GIBSON ERIK ARTHUR|