The Slow Shopper: Breaking the Chains
Make juice not war
Firstly I should apologise for the fact that I haven’t written a post in ages. Recently I’ve become distracted by an impractical yet loveable gadget- a 1960’s juicer attachment for my retro Kenwood Chef. If you’ve never tried juicing I’d highly recommend it- you pop your fruit and veg in the top and what comes out the bottom will either be a taste sensation… or possibly a bit yuck. Many of mine have come out as the latter, but it’s fun to experiment and either way you know it’s going to be good for you!
I got into this juicing craze thanks to the discovery of a well-stocked Indian shop near me that has a beautiful selection of juiceable fruit and veg, and it’s open until 8.30pm. Anyone else who aims to avoid supermarkets and chain shops will know that a grocery shop that’s open past five in the afternoon is a treasure not to be sniffed at. I’m thrilled that, despite having solely used local independent shops for months, I’m still discovering new hidden gems in my neighborhood.
This newest discovery has inspired me to go on a bit of a rant about the perils of ‘Big Business’ and the multinationals that threaten to trample local shops underfoot, so here goes…
Power to the people
It’s hard to miss the many television ads, billboards and leaflets that supermarkets use to rave about their huge range of products and tiny prices. However, they are less keen to tell you about the hidden costs that come with spending your weekly shopping fund at one of their mega-shops.
Independent retailers have been closing their doors left, right and centre because they simply can’t compete with the huge buying power wielded by supermarkets. This can lead to a situation that I’m sure we’ve all seen in one small town or another- high streets lined with boarded-up shops as locals flock to the out-of-town megastore to bag a bargain. And who can blame them? It seems that everyone has been feeling the pinch recently, but by turning our backs on independent shops in favour of the lowest prices, we risk losing them forever. I for one think this would be a tragic loss, especially having shopped in nothing but independent shops for nearly five months now. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve found some proper gems on my local Armley High Street, from Polish stores with their mysterious foreign delights to a hardware shop that stocks everything from school uniforms to drill bits. In my experience you’ll never get the same personal service, friendliness and sheer quirkiness from supermarket that you’ll get in your local grocery or hardware shop.
Recently there’s been a lot of positive action to challenge the power of Big Business. Local traders in Llanrwst, a pretty Welsh tourist destination, feared that plans to build a new 28,000 sq. ft. Tesco on the outskirts of town would pull visitors away from the centre and destroy their local businesses. The traders took action by speaking out against the planned supermarket and displaying campaign posters in their windows all over town.
Earlier this month it was announced that Tesco had pulled out of plans for their Llanrwst store, which was seen as a huge step in the right direction for local democracy.
Campaigning organisation Totally Locally are highlighting the difference shoppers can make by spending their money in local rather than multinational shops; for example they calculate that in the West Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge, if every adult spent just £5 per week in local businesses an extra £3.6 million per year would be channeled into the local economy. They also highlight that when you support a local shop, you’re also supporting the many local suppliers and business partners of that shop. That £5 may seem insignificant, but it can have a big impact when spent in your local community!
There are a lot of books and websites out there that talk about these issues much more eloquently than I, so if you’d like to dig a bit deeper then take a look at these useful resources for the ethical shopper .
To see the previous posts in this series click here.