Time for people to put their money where there mouth is and support independent shops

The local paper in Norfolk, the Eastern Daily Press is running a campaign to support shops in small towns, which I support, but it also requires more than just simply shopping in a town. It requires you to look carefully at where you are shopping too.

I still regularly go shopping where I used to live and where I was local councillor, in Fakenham. Although we live 20 miles from Fakenhan and just 5 miles from Norwich, it is far easier to travel there (it take 30 minutes), there is plenty of parking and despite what some people say, it is extremely cheap to park in Fakenham, with it costing about a third of the cost of Norwich parking. The other advantage of North Norfolk's parking scheme and charges is that it does not mean that people hog parking spaces for a whole day, which is what Breckland's free parking leads to.

When we go to Fakenham, we don't simply think that we have been good to the town by shopping in Boots, Argos or Woolworths. We deliberately make a point of using independent shops and avoid chain stores if at all possible. In Millers Walk (a small arcade in Fakenham) there is a lovely independent card shop which has been there for years, and a new chain store card shop has opened up. What is the result ? The chain store is packed whilst the shop next door is empty. This has nothing to do with price, sadly it is a case of people shopping with "brand names" in mind. The result might be that the independent shop will close, if people don't use it.

There are numerous other examples. An excellent local baker or the chain store high street bakers, the Tesco meat counter of the two excellent butchers. or you can have supermarket vegetables (and all the wasteful packinging that goes with that) or the excellent greengrocers called "Benbow's" who serves you fruit and veg the proper way, in paper bags.

In short, shopping in small towns is not enough in itself. People need to realise what makes there small town unique or special and cherish that. People think it will cost more, but very often it doesn't. People are just seduced in to thinking it is more expensive if you don't use a supermarket, even when it isn't. But one thing you are guaranteed in an independent shop is better service, better quality and usually better freshness too.


Anonymous said...

I do the same as you but too many people fail to support local businesses.

RobC said...

This is an area as a party where we can be distinctive. Labour and Tories are in hoc to the large supermarkets for various reasons. We by contrast should do as much as possible to support small independent shops for example via the local planning and taxation systems. Equally we should be aware of the worth of small farmers in the face of agro-businesses.