I went to a specialist darts shop for the first time yesterday.
I wanted to throw some darts of different weights before investing my Christmas money in a new set, and so I spent a good long time in the shop throwing all sorts of sizes, shapes and weights of darts, and it was great to be able to try things out thoroughly, especially for a darting novice like me who was unsure of what to choose from the bewildering variety of darts available.
The shop in question was MadHouse Darts, Harrogate, in God's own county of North Yorkshire. I had to go quite some way from Newcastle to find a specialist shop that would let me try before buying, and given that there are lots of darters out there and everyone recommends trying out darts before opening your wallet, I couldn't help wondering why. I know darts is a relatively small sport, but even so I thought a major urban area like Tyne and Wear would have at least one.
An answer may be found in what happened at the beginning of January when I tried to go to a specialist darts shop in Essex, near my parents' house where I was staying, only to discover that they were closing their doors for the last time in order to become an internet only retailer: sadly, they just couldn't afford to keep the shop open.
A quick internet search will confirm that specialist darts shops with their own oches and boards are not thick on the ground. It would be a real shame if we were to lose more of these little gems - internet shopping is ok, particularly if you're experienced enough to know exactly what you want, but you can't beat going into a shop, talking to someone and trying things out before you buy them.
So please, darters of Britain, let's try to make sure that great little shops like these still have a viable future - buying from the usually tiny sections set aside for darts in major sports shops, where the sales staff think "oche" is a game Londoners play with a stick, is far less satisfying.
Save Our Darts Shops!
PS - I hadn't forgotten that there was another darts World Championship recently. Congratulations to Martin Adams on his victory at the Lakeside. The tournament had its moments; overall it lacked the excitement, the drama and the consistent high standards of the PDC World Championship, but then we knew it would before it started. BDO tournaments sadly always do, despite having some superb players. That's all I'll say on the matter.
PPS - Thanks very much to oowashi for being so nice about my blog :o) I'll gladly add a link to his blog "Darts and Life with Dog". I can't tell you much about it, because oowashi's English is evidently light years ahead of my Japanese, but any readers who have a better command of Japanese than I do should definitely check it out :o)