Time to get personal!

By Jo Phillips

Shopping we know, is extremely important to most of us. Research even shows the average person will spend around 37.5 hours on shopping a week. Thats 150 hours per month!

With shopping being this relevant to us we always want to find easier, more efficient and better ways to shop. Historically, shopping was only carried out via local markets, however, nowadays we have become so technical with it. We can shop at local shopping centres, outlets, online stores, hell, some of us shopping addicts even fly to new exciting countries to shop!

Now, with the way in which we can shop changing, it’s about time shopping starts to get more personal. Let’s face it when we spend our precious time shopping, finding the perfect item and the best discount, is the perfect present to oneself!


Many companies are offering personalisation with shopping in order to create a gift that is truly unique. One of our current favourites is Thomas Sabo. They can engrave your own personal message on their pendents, bracelets and necklaces to create an individual message. They even released a personalised range in 2012 called Special Additions, where many of the pieces feature cubic zirconia stones and the bracelets have a click and attach feature for separate charms. This means that the pieces available could easily be adapted or changed by simply adding or removing certain accessories.


For something a little more basic yet still as lovely why not pop down to a major Muji store.
Muji have additionally embraced personalisation into their brand with their stamps. With these stamps you can artistically personalise books, cards, i.e buy the book and personalise it in the store. With Christmas fast approaching, this is a true investment; once you purchase your gift, you can use Muji’s decorative stamps to add a very unique and personal touch to the gift wrap.

Even whisky is being personalised! Kicking the Christmas season off in style, Johnnie Walker Blue Label has unveiled an exclusive partnership with The Whisky Shop, Piccadilly, bringing a focus to the joy of giving with a personal touch. The UK’s favourite luxury Scotch whisky special blue label offers the option of engraving the bottle. They also offer tasting session to the public, so make sure you don’t miss out.


The whisky bottle can be engraved with your own personal message or greeting. And it’s easy too! Just type in the message you wish to have on the bottle and they’ll take care of the rest. Sending an engraved whisky, spirit or champagne bottle as a gift is a great unique idea, whether you want to wish someone well or even a Merry Christmas – very fitting for this time of year!


SPOKE, an online men’s brand has one goal, and one goal only – to offer made-to-measure essentials for the modern man; properly made clothes that fit well. These pieces of clothing are personalised to the individual which gives it an edge in the current fashion industry.

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While most fashion brands design enormous collections and revise them every 12 weeks, SPOKE turns the conventional model upside down, refining mens’ staple wardrobe essentials and offering them in a wide variety of fits. 

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A simple online ‘Fit Finder’ guides customers to their perfect size, with a wide range of combinations available directly through spoke-london.com

And as it’s the maddest shopping time of the year, what we suggest to you is a trip to Bicester Village. What does that conjure up for you? More madness… well maybe not!

Until recently, the .Cent team had never actually visited the shopping village, so the assumption was that it would be a bunch of shops selling worn out-dates samples from designer names that had seen better days?

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Well, we kind of go that wrong, in fact we would go so far as to say the experience of Bicester Village is what made it a great excursion into the

Oxfordshire countryside on a day trip excursion via London Marylebone station.

Firstly, the 45 minute journey to Bicester Village Station goes quickly, but if that seems like a long journey, what you get is a welcome surprise at the other end. A sleek modern train station with guest services and the nicest waiting room we think that has been built since the golden age of travel.

Services via the station for the village include hands free shopping, luggage drop and personal styling. Not a bad introduction to the village.

And so the shopping begins; and wow there are a plethora of places to shop. We are not talking 20 odd shops, but over 130 shops of full of high-ticket items all presenting at and around 60% discount from original shop prices.

But what is the Shopping experience like here? Pleasure or pain? Especially for those that really hate the angry stress of town centres.

Bicester Village, is crammed with  sophisticated boutiques, yet these are laid out in spacious boulevards, offering dare we say relaxing retail experience.

The village itself looks like a picture perfect shopping street out of a ‘homestyle’ American film, a little bit white picket fences and clean street dotted with potted bay trees and benches to rest on alongside eateries in which to indulge.

However, one thing more than anything stands out, and that’s the attitude of every single member of staff we meet on our journey. Many go shopping to look for bargains whilst others may be looking for something specific. Ever wondered around a town centre going into shop after shop looking for the certain special item, getting into a state of despair that eventually drives you to ask the advise of shop staff as to who they could recommend you try next? Of course, then only to receive a sloppy shrug of the shoulder?

Well, ask that question at Bicester Village and you can expect a far better response. Any staff member will point you in the direction of any number of stores that may be able to help with that succinct purchase and not only do they offer options they do it with a smile.

Because unlike a city shopping destination we deal with busy streets, buses, taxis, general noise dirt and rubbish. Because this is all about the ‘shopping experience’, its taken to every level and every person working there to ensure this is instilled for each and every visitor.

On top of all of this, the village alongside Outset Contemporary Art fund are presenting a new initiative during the festive period. Four fig-2 artists have been invited to develop and create site-specific work to be exhibited at Bicester Village in the run-up to the festive period. The project will show a selection of works from Annika Strom Shezad Dawood Vensa Petresin and Deborah Coughlin’s choir gaggle.

So if you decide you want a little more quality from your Christmas shopping experience, a little trip to the Oxfordshire countryside is just what your purse and mind require.

For an attentive service with a friendly, unhurried atmosphere; there is much to enjoy here, whether it’s browsing prestigious boutiques at leisure for luxury purchases, or sampling fine food and drink in the Village’s cafés and restaurants. Chiltern trains have built a brand new station that has trains running through out the day why not give yourself an easier and more friendly shop this season?

Bicester Village
– Tourist information for Bicester and the surrounding Oxfordshire region
– Guest services including Hands-free ShoppingPersonal Stylist, Valet Parking and Luggage Drop.

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