A friend reminded me of the name for what I was calling ‘refill shops’. I’m thinking of the 80s/ 90s, no frills, low cost shop that remember my Dad getting soap refills from when I was little. They were ‘scoop and save’ or ‘weigh and save’ shops.
A bit of digging later and I find that they do still exist, but sadly for me, they are mainly in the North. This excellent blog ‘Weigh and save shops‘ on the Plastic is Rubbish site explains the situation and lists some of the existing shops.
I’m surprised that these shops aren’t more in demand as the source of bargains. Some others are thinking the same over on the MoneySavingExpert website, which has a thread about these shops, with locations.