Saturday, December 19, 2009

Support Your Local Independent Shops

I've spent most of this afternoon in Tunbridge Wells Christmas shopping. It was a fairly dispiriting experience. The roads are treacherous, with many important roads remaining ungritted or cleared. On the Saturday before Christmas this is a disgraceful state of affairs. I spoke to several shopowners whose staff were unable to make it into work today. But there were quite a number of shops on the High Street and on the Pantiles which were shut all day.

As a former shop owner myself I feel terrible for them. As if they haven't had a bad enough year without this. And things don't look like improving over the next couple of days, with the big freeze continuing into next week.

I decided this year that I will do all my shopping in independent shops and not give any custom to the big chains. They can hopefully look after themselves. But in these incredibly difficult times, independent shops need all the help they can get. So if you're out and about tomorrow, give the chains a miss and spend your money in the smaller shops.

19 comments:

Wallenstein said...

I'd love to support my local shops, but every day when I drive back through town after work at 6-7pm they are all shut.

Same in the morning when I leave for work before 8am.

Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys... all open in the evenings so they get my custom by default.

My weekends are too valuable to be spent traipsing round town with 1000s of other people.

Late night opening twice a week would see local independents - particularly food - get much more custom.

MTPT said...

The problem with this idea is a scarcity of independent shops. I live in a suburban village, where my local bakers is part of a chain (as is the local dairy) and the greengrocer appears to have turned into a health food store.

There are some nice - independent - stores at the nearest local centre, but that's about two miles away. Leaves the devils own choice of walking to the local supermarket, or driving to an independent store much further away.

Number 7 said...

Totally off topic!

Iain,

Is Guido in Paddington Green?

Obnoxio The Clown said...

What is an "independent shop"? I don't seem to have any of those where I live.

Simon Lewis said...

We used to have loads of independent shops then the planning regs were relaxed to encourage out of town malls and this is what we are left with. Coupled with the destruction of our transport network through lack of investement in the 70s and 80s encouraged massive car usage and destruction of the high street.
However, i agree we do need the shops to open later in the evening. It would help

Scary Biscuits said...

The main reason that small shops are disappearing is that, as a general rule, they are sh*t.

In the last 20 years we've had a revolution in food quality and yet many local grocers are still selling awful 'Happy Shopper' type brands that nobody wants. It's the same with many local butchers and other small shops. They've simply failed to innovate.

I can't wait for a Tesco express to open near me.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Thanks, Iain, for posting this.

The independents are really struggling, and support such as yours is invaluable.

As an independent shop owner, Thanks again.

Bill Quango MP said...

Went into town today. No snow at all here. A sunny pleasant day.
Shops were deserted. The Saturday before Christmas felt quieter than a normal day. Doesn't bode well.

John East said...

If you were Brown, which headline would you prefer. "Low retail sales because of the economic crisis", or "Low retail sales because of a few flakes of snow."

Yes, it's a gift to Brown.

In fact, if I were a conspiracy theorist I'd believe that he was personally responsible for our shortage of gritters and salt. Then again, I suppose thanks to the Brown bust he probably is personally responsible.

Lord Mandelbottom of Marrakech said...

Iain, our village has a butcher, a post office, a general store and a chippy. All are well supported at the moment. What more does a Lord need (other than for the chippy to sell guacamole instead of those fart inducing peas)?

Libertarian said...

I've emailed Paul Carter and my local councillor to ask why once again Conservative KCC have failed to provide a basic service ( road gritting) to the vastly overburdened tax payer. However we should be grateful that they spend millions of pounds on running TV stations, employment agencies, coach companies, travel agencies and landscape gardening companies.

No reply, bit like my 3 emails to Kevin Lynes asking what exactly Conservative KCC has ACTUALLY DONE with their very expensive publicity campaign " Backing Kent Business"

spatuletail said...

If 30 years of conservative and Labour economic policy hadn't totally ripped the heart out of British high streets, you might have a point.

The fact that plenty of people told you this would happen makes you seem faintly daft.

Martin Wellbourne said...

Sadly, too many of my local shops seem to be run by people who, seeing a customer running towards them waving a fistful of used tenners in the air, at thirty seconds to 5-00 P.M. will shut the door on the dot and leave you stewing on the doorstep. Until some conglomerate opens up along the road, when it gets all "Hello mate, long time no see, how are you me old mucker", etc

Unsworth said...

Having spent a couple of fruitless days trying to find interesting Christmas Cards I dropped into a small independent shop in West Malling the other day and found exactly what I wanted. I then wandered along the High Street and was delighted at the variety of shops and goods on sale - all of them small businesses.

Today I visited Rochester and found more treasures. Early next week I'll be going to Rye - to complete my shopping.

You're right. Small businesses deserve our support and often have much better (and greater value) products than the high street chains.

True Belle said...

We have a butcher , baker and candlestick seller and two pubs , post office/grocer in my village supporting under 2,000 bods!

We have a stone mason , hurdle makers, tree surgeon, clay pigeon grounds, and a newly built doctors surgery, veterinary hospital, sheep farmers -

Yet I yearn to escape away from the muddy spattered roads and lanes and the smell of the countryside, just to take off into the nearest town to buy Polish sausage , or window shop for alsorts of reasons, and to drink a decent coffee- not the S one but the C one! Villages can be claustrophobic you know.

Susie said...

No argument with the sentiment here Iain, but the weather is affecting everyone. I work at Asda (< distinctly not local or independent!) and there were about 5 people left in the store tonight when I left, and we were sent home 2 hours early last night because it is so quiet.

I realise the wider implications of a supermarket missing a few nights trading aren't nearly as damaging as a small shop but I've still lost hours, I've still lost pay. Its just generally a pretty poor time for everyone really.

Lady Finchley said...

Every time I have tried I have found the attitude so 1950's - close at 5:30 on the dot, no flexibility and lousy choice. I always go to my local pet shop and the guy who owns it is just so unpleasant - I don't know why I perservere. I do my weekly shopping at Waitrose - more expensive I know, but at least I am treated with respect, everyone there speaks English and they have a delivery service.

Robin said...

Agree with the sentiment - but some small businesses do not help themselves. Went to an independent Pet Shop to buy a cat carry case today - paid for it but when the assistant tried to show me how it worked it was clearly not fit for purpose - they tried to refuse to give me my money back offering me a credit note and telling me I was rude to ask. Sorry but Marks and Sparks and all the big chains do not try and hold you to ransom like this...

kevinlynes said...

Libertarian - KCC's 'Backing Kent Business' campaign isn't expensive, but simply pulls together KCC, IoD, Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Business, Universities etc to work jointly on areas where their business members told us they needed help. I don't quite get why you think joint working would be 'expensive'?

I don't appear to have received any emails from you, but the KCC website gives all the details.

We've doubled the number of invoices we pay in 20 days; increased our approved list to include another 400+ small businesses; started work on a Kent Graduate Portal to keep more of our talent in the county; lobbied Government on overprescriptive European procurement law and again on the unfairness of French action leading to Operation Stack, and are now actively helping Kent businesses to benefit from new industries such as offshore wind power.

KCC spends just under £700m a year in procurement, and around half a billion of this is specifically spent with around 5000 Kent-based SMEs. We'd like to spend more in this way, but EU law says we have to advertise anything over £140k across Europe - seems unfair to me in these recessionary times.

And as far as KCC and its temp agency, bus company and landscape gardening interests are concerned, the income from these nationwide activities are ploughed back into services to keep your Council Tax down. Should we stop doing that?