Thanks to the monopolising tactics of the big chain stores and chain pubs - WH Smith, Boots, Next, M&S, Dixons, Ottakars, etc etc - Brentwood High Street looks identical to 90% of other high streets in the country. This is something I feel quite strongly about. I noticed it first in the States where every shopping mall you go to looks identical - there is always a JC Penney, Sears Roebuck, Barnes & Noble, etc etc. The same thing has been happening in the UK and is only getting worse.
I will ignore the big and boring stores in my shopping tips. You will always be able to buy the basic necessities of life easily enough. What I will try to concentrate on are the few specialist places that other towns may not have - the type of shops that people may actually travel to Brentwood to visit. I'll try to think of some examples and add them below.
This is a special tip for Scott (herzog63).
Fishing holds no real attraction for me but obviously some people love it. Scott, along with his wife and son, are experts at pulling out fresh salmon from the lakes of Alaska. Not every town has a good fishing shop but Brentwood does (I believe it's a good one at any rate). According to their business cards, they specialise in carp. My preference is for cod or maybe rock-eel (and chips, of course).
What to buy: Fishing gear, live bait (fill your fridge up with live maggots and meal worms).
Although it has always been possible to buy a Sony/Technics/Panasonic hi-fi stack system in Brentwood, it hasn't always been possible to but quality audio equipment. This changed when Audio T opened a shop here.
They sell all the best quality brands and have very knowledgeable staff. There is a proper listening room on the premises and, at their discretion, they will also arrange for you to test equipment in your own home with the rest of your own equipment.
What to buy: Quality audio and home cinema equipment.
What to pay: More than you would in the big High Street chain stores but it's a different market.
Field & Trek are a chain but not a big one. They sell a wide range of outdoor clothes and equipment but tend to focus on the top brand names, most of which are available. Prices therefore may be higher than other shops but the quality of the products will inevitably perform better and last longer. You pays your money and you takes your choice, as we say.
What to buy: Outdoor clothing and equipment.
What to pay: A little more than elsewhere in the area but you are paying for quality.
I haven't bought any golfing gear for years. However, this place advertises themself as being the cheapest golf shop in Essex and people seem to visit from wide and far.
If you're a golfer and in the market for clubs, clothing or other equipment this could be worth a look.
What to buy: Golf stuff.
What to pay: Supposedly cheaper than elsewhere.
A great little shop that sells all things Oriental. Authentic groceries for Indian/Chinese/Thai cooking. Books on a whole load of subjects from Feng Shui design to Buddhism. Oriental clothing. Aromatherapy essential oils and incense. Oriental furniture and knick knacks.
They can also assist with complementary therapy such as acupuncture and massage.
One of the main attractions of the shop is no longer there, unfortunately. The previous owner, Christine - a delightful Chinese/Malaysian lady originally from Penang - sold up early in 2003. She has a fantastic outlook on life and I've spent many an hour in conversations with her about all kinds of things. I still see her around Brentwood but she is no longer a feature at Pearl of the Orient.