Does anyone remember Tandy? Back before there were Maplin stores everywhere, they used to be my go-to place for picking up the odd component at short notice. Terrible prices, but at least they had some basic stuff in stock.
Over the years, their component section shrank further and further. They eventually became little more than a generic gadget retailer like Dixons. And at that point, how can they compete? I think Carphone Warehouse ended up buying them.
Well, it seems Maplin went the same way. They were the source of almost all my components back in the 90s. You could get literally everything you needed from there, and the catalogues were so detailed. Practically every part had a detailed pinout listed, and you could order datasheets through them. But then with the expansion of their retail stores, they seemed to focus more and more on shifting boxes than components. When their Brighton store first opened, there was practically nothing there other than some desks with catalogues where you could order components. Then it gradually got taken over with gadgets.
These days, I'm not sure what role they play. Almost everything is available online for a fraction of the cost. I do occasionally use them for picking up the occasional cable at short notice, but it's been probably 20 years since I bought any components there. These days, places like RS and Farnell have a massive range at a very reasonable price. I seem to recall in the 90s it was tricky to order from them if you weren't a business, but nowadays no problem.
One thing you must never do is buy chargers from eBay or Amazon! These are the sorts of products you'll find on those sites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Hdn0MuCK_0
Yes, that's a direct connection from mains to 0V! So many people have been killed by eBay power supplies. You can get name brand chargers from RS at an acceptable cost, and I'd tend to trust RS as a source more than most discount places online. For example, this one is half the cost of an Apple charger, and has considerably better regulation (4.75 - 5.25V, versus 4.4 - 5.25V for the iPhone charger): https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/plug-in- ... y/7361658/