Sunday, 27 April 2014

Love your locals

I nearly wrote a post entitled 'Love your locals' earlier this year when my local independent department store moved out of the town centre, where it had been for over a century. It wasn't closing, but it would be changing drastically, no longer a place to potter into for household products and gardening stuff at weekends, but one on a trading estate focussing solely on big-ticket items.



Now I am writing the post, because the landlord of one of my local pubs has left - I believe the pub will  still be open for a while, but a change in landlord always means a big change in a pub - and the Bristol steampunk weekend, Brass Brunel, has been cancelled because of lack of support. I personally haven't lost out (ticket money was refunded for the Bristol event, and there are a couple of other very good pbs in town that I drink in) but I'm very sad because it always hurts to see people put so much effort into good things that then fail to flourish. I shouldn't be too downbeat; things that could have gone horribly are now doing okay, such as Trowbridge Town Hall becoming a local arts centre, when I'd feared it would end up converted into flats. However, I do believe people should be able to follow their dreams and it makes me sad when they flounder.

So, for once, this is a fairly serious post. Love your local events and businesses. Not everyone can afford to, and if you can't, that's fine. But if you can go to the independent card shop rather than a chain or (shudder) a supermarket to buy a birthday card, do it. Shop with your local butcher, if you're still lucky enough to have one. Spurn that international coffee chain and visit the small one that's owned and run by people who care (and don't dodge taxes). No one person can keep any business open, but all of us together can make our towns and cities more interesting and unique places, as pleasing for residents to live in as they are for tourists to visit.

Love your locals. The world becomes a greyer place without them.

ETA: Don't forget to check my page for What's on in Vintage Wiltshire (which also covers the bit of Somerset just over the border). I started it to help give local events a bit of publicity.

8 comments :

  1. Same for Bradford-on-Avon. In the past week we've lost our butcher and one of the gift shops. We'll be losing more if people don't come to support us :(

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    1. The butcher? That's really bad. I live in fear of mine closing; I think we'd end up driving to Devizes each weekend to go to their main branch.

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  2. My town has an active shop local campaign and has a great mix of independent shops and cafés. I am glad that you wrote this, it is so important if we don't want everywhere to end up looking the same.

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    1. And it's so easy for the local community to achieve, if they can afford the little extra that local shops sometimes charge (I know not every person can manage that). I hope the campaign goes well for your town.

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  3. I always try to buy from independent stores. However that is getting harder and harder to do as long established local shops seem to be shutting down at a ridiculous pace. Even well supported ones! I went back to my mum and dad's last week and going through the town could not believe my eyes when I saw a ****ing betting shop operating on the site of what was the most popular cafe in the area. Their local council has also set aside a load of money to encourage more new stores... but only brand name stores. No help for the local indie shops at all.

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    1. Councils' efforts to get in brand names drives me nuts. Ours is always chasing them - yet if people are that bothered about brands, they'll go to the brands' BIG shop in the nearby city, they won't travel to a smaller town to visit a smaller branch. And it's so stupid, because indies generate more local employment and help keep money within the local community.

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  4. I'm a bit of a hypocrite because I hate supermarkets, but somehow always end up in them. I have just signed a petition though against a Tesco opening in Treorchy, as it's such a lovely old-fashioned town with a long high street of really useful shops (including one that sells everything. Specific light bulb? Indoor paraffin oil? They've got it all!). It already has a Lidl and a Co-op so I don't see the point at all of a Tesco. A few miles in the other direction, we've seen the sad state that Tonypandy has ended up in since an Asda opened on the outskirts. An important topic. P x

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    1. I have managed to decrease my reliance on supermarkets by shopping at my local butcher and getting a weekly (local) vegbox delivery, though I realise that's not practical for everyone, especially people with large families. I can't swear off the supes entirely, though, as I'm not feeding the cat on good meat from the butcher - she can make do with Whiskas from Tesco!

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