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The Argos Conspiracy

Argos - friendly high-street retailer or the guardian of the most mind-blowing secret of the 21st century?

The Small Shop with a Big Problem

Argos are everywhere. Every high street, every city shopping precinct in the UK seems to have a branch. Yet few people stop to think about them in any detail, and the details really don't stand up to examination.

Every Argos is a small shop, either sandwiched between two small retail outlets in the high street, or a glass shopfront in a mall. And yet, they offer a variety of goods unmatched by most large department stores. Argos: little shop, 1500 pages of products. Debenhams: huge edifice, 5 types of bed and some cardigans.

One possible mitigating factor is that they have no display space, no aisles, and no salesforce needing rest rooms and facilities, but that accounts for maybe 25% of the total space in a typical store. 25% less than your average Barretts doesn't get you anywhere near as small as a city centre Argos - this is clearly not the real solution to the problem.

The Argos Conspiracy

Clearly, since Argos is as small as it is, the truth is therefore being covered up. Why?

The reason for the total suppression of the real nature of Argos must be that the truth, if it comes out, would revolutionize the entire retail sector and possibly society at large. The number of people involved would include the staff of each outlet, builders, delivery personnel, warehousemen, and so forth.

Some people might say that such a large number of people could never be kept silent for so long, but their fearful silence merely confirms the utter ruthlessness of the regime under which they labour, if labour is the right word for it.

The solution to this conundrum, when it is revealed, is quite simple, and explains all the disparate facets of both Argos and the frightening effectiveness of the suppression of the truth.

The Solution


General-purpose nanotech assemblers have been a long sought-after breakthrough in materials science for decades. Argos got there first, and kept the secret for themselves.

When in an Argos, you never see beyond the mysterious conveyor belt from which all the goods appear. This is deliberate, as the conveyor is the output from a smart matter compiler, able to construct any item in the catalog, atom-by-atom, from a selection of simple liquid feedstocks.

Matter compilers are quite fast, but still need finite time to work, which explains why you always have to wait several minutes for your purchases, even if the branch is basically deserted. The final decompression phase cools the item down, which is why they are often cooler than ambient temperature.

The feedstock is basically liquid organic chemicals, which can be kept in tanks. Although large, these are much denser than any warehouse contents, allowing the branches to have a very small behind the scenes area. Small secondary tanks are used for specialised additives, such as chromium or lithium for batteries.

Despite this, there is at present a relatively small number of materials which can be synthesised, which explains why most items in the catalogue appear to be made from the same kinds of plastic.