We visit the Aladdin’s Cave Bristol shop where items are priced from 49p

‘It started with a few shelves about five years ago’
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One customer visiting Matchrite Bargains in Brislington told owner Andrew Mulcahy it was the most amazing shop they had ever seen and it’s not hard to see why.

An Aladdin’s cave of bric-a-brac, books, toys, DVDs and collectables, it’s also known as The 49p Shop because 50% of the thousands of items stuffed into the tiny shop are literally that price or cheaper.

Even more incredible is the fact that Bristol’s cheapest shop is also part of the city’s longest-running denture repair centre.

Brislington-born Andrew started repairing dentures back in 1968 after working as an apprentice in Bedminster and training at Bristol Dental Hospital.

He moved to the current premises on Winchester Road in 1977 and during his career he has fixed around 100,000 dentures for dentally challenged Bristolians.

Andrew Mulcahy outside his bargain shop and denture repair centreAndrew Mulcahy outside his bargain shop and denture repair centre
Andrew Mulcahy outside his bargain shop and denture repair centre

The idea for The 49p Shop within his denture repair centre came about when he realised people killing time in the waiting room didn’t have anything to do while they waited for their dentures to be fixed.

“People often come with a friend or their kids and they would wait here for half an hour in an empty waiting room but they had nothing to do so I started to sell a few things.

“It started with a few shelves about five years ago - I used to buy those Wallace and Gromit figurines on Facebook and put them in a case and people started buying them.

“I added a few more things and now I’ve extended the shop through to the back of the building and put up about 200 more shelves. There’s certainly a lot of stuff in here now!”

That’s a huge understatement as the higgledy-piggledy shop is crammed with items for sale in every corner.

The 49p Shop in Brislington is an Aladdin’s cave of bargainsThe 49p Shop in Brislington is an Aladdin’s cave of bargains
The 49p Shop in Brislington is an Aladdin’s cave of bargains

There are piles of books, CDs, vinyl LPs, toys, household items, shoes, greetings cards and even old-school jokes (among them, whoopee cushions, ‘toilet seat turd’ and ‘nail through finger’) which Andrew used to sell in the 1970s and 1980s when he also ran a mail order joke shop business.

There is always new stock on sale, which Andrew finds on Facebook or via donations from people who drop stuff off.

The shop attracts customers of all ages and Andrew says most people are surprised at the range of items on sale and certainly how cheap it is.

“They come here to browse and they don’t know what they want when they come in here but they usually leave with something.

“Although a lot of things are 49p, there is cheaper stuff and a few more expensive things. I just thought the 49p price would get people through the door. I was getting stuff for peanuts and still making a profit on it so I thought it was the right thing to do.”

The most expensive item for sale in the shop this week is a £20 clock, but at the other end of the price scale there are toys for 20p.

“I have pairs of brand new shoes for £5, four CDs for £1 and four kids’ toys for 50p. The average sale is about £6 and lots of customers come in over and over again.

“One lady comes in every Friday and says it’s her little treat. She only spends about £3 but she says she looks forward to coming here.”

And with so much stock in no particular order, Andrew also admits that there may well be some rare and collectable stuff in the shop that he doesn’t even realise is valuable.

“I do get a lot of guys coming here, photographing things on their phones and checking it on Ebay - they spend ages here.

“There is probably a lot of stuff that’s worth a lot more than I’m selling it for but I don’t worry about that!”

The 49p Shop is at 167 Winchester Road, Brislington, Bristol, BS4 3NJ.