I think that size DOES matter!



I detest shopping….let’s get that straight!

The thought of wandering-about in faceless malls/shopping centres looking at the same things as can be seen in any of these great cathedrals to consumption, does nothing for my mind. I can vividly remember going-into the St Enoch’s Centre in Glasgow for the first time some decades ago. It looked like a large railway terminal with an enclosed glass roof. Several levels of shops looked for all the world like cells or places where monstrous hens would go to lay eggs! I uderstand from those who know these things, that this is where people come for retail therapy…..good grief!

Within the hour, I had seen representatives of all the major shops with household names, selling clothes, mobile phones, coffee, sports gear, holidays, computers etc, etc……

After an hour of this, I had had enough! I felt cooped-in, trapped in a world of jostling people, bored children, even-more-bored shop staff. I think the problem was that there was too much choice. ‘Let’s try next door, they’ll have a better-designed/slightly-cheaper/more-colourful/better-quality/newer-style, example’ was the cry of the dearly-beloved Lady of the House…..and all I needed was a pair of grey socks, or a pair of underpants!

Going to a large DIY store or furniture warehouse brings the same amount of displeasure!

Where have all the small specialised shops gone? We had a very-good local butcher, whom everyone admired, too-few patronised, and then all sympathised when they heard he was closing up due to lack of business. ‘His quality was very good, but he was not as cheap as Sainsbury’.  Of course he couldn’t beat any of the major stores, where the meat comes from anonymous farms, killed in anonymous abattoirs, prepared by rows of anomymous butchers, packaged by clanking machines and stacked in neat rows in polystyrene containers. But that was not what he offered. He would supply a very small amount of meat for an old couple, give advice on how to prepare a stew, and could tell you where the animal grew up.

We still have a sweetie shop, where we can recall the flavours and odours of yesteryear, and perhaps pass on to the next generation some appreciation of the subtle tastes of rhubarb-and-custard sweets, or the black sticky mess on your teeth when you have some licquorice! He will be busy over Christmas but let’s hope he is still there this time next year.

Over much of my working life I have been involved with small independent businesses. These are often made up of one or two people who have a speciality knowledge, who know a lot about their customers, and are able to give advice. Also, a £100 order to a supermarket may not mean much, but spend that in a one-man  business, and you will make a very-happy shopkeeper, and let him (or her) live another day.

But if you don’t use them, you will lose them. Why not see if you can buy some of your Christmas presents (and maybe even the turkey, or licquorice comfits) locally. You will be saving petrol, hassle, putting back some money into the locally economy, and perhaps saving a local business and his family from ‘going-under’!


P.S. The photo at the top is a Russian supermarket….exciting isn’t it!