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!

8 thoughts on “I think that size DOES matter!

  1. I do so agree! I’ve never liked shopping, especially at such places and I’m only really happy in small, local shops.
    Sadly the small independent bookshop where I work is closing down as the lease has expired and the new rent is excessively high.
    It really is depressing walking along most town high streets now trying to find any proper shops.
    Thanks for this good, interesting entry.
    Cheers, and have a good weekend!

  2. Dear Flighty…..I’m just waiting for all the lady bloggers to come back from their shopping, and tear the blog to bits!….it’s the least I expect!

  3. Sadly the local shop keeper has a lonely life, if he survives at all. The vastly different life we have now dictates our shooping. Apparantley, we need everything in one shop, or under one roof because we have so little time (!!) to do it the old way!
    Rubbish isn’t it. We are led by the masses, (those who think they know everything) I would avoid where possible the places that turn shopping, especially time like Christmas, into a miserable ‘have to do’ task. I’d have much more fun at a market, haggling down and passing the time of day with the cheery stall holder.
    When I was small we had two toy shops in the City, Boydells and Staddons. They were like little Caverns of joy. Toys where everywhere, kids were running about trying things out and there were little ‘shows’ or puppeteers, making the whole trip more enjoyable.
    Oh for the good old days!
    I’m probably a worse offender now as I use the internet to keep me away from the madness! Not the answer….
    Thoughtful entry IP :o)

  4. Dear Daff…..and here was me thinking all you women like feeling and touching the goods in a number of shops before going back to the first one!

    We are aware of the internet-factor even within our own business, but we do not trust internet transactions, so don’t allow purchases via our web-site.

    I think it’s a constant battle by the small man….but of course the ‘big-boys’ are finding the limitations caused by the credit crunch…and all that they can do is stay open longer, or offer ridiculous discounts…….not exactly what it is supposed to be about!

  5. I agree and I do my best to shop locally, however, the purchasing might of the lage nationals means they undercut the locals so massively it becomes a matter of moral strength at times and not a good one where my bank account is concerned. The mighty nationals are to blame for pandering to Joe Publics wish to buy everything for alomst nothing, the root of the whole sorry situation. In their quest to give us lower and lower prices not only do they force the local retailer out of business, their sharp, soley economically motivated practices, also mean they squeeze the life out of suppliers along the way. It’s a vicious circle that sadly I suspect from my years in ‘the trade’ began with the consumers demand for a bargain.

    ‘Use it or lose it’ about sums it up.

  6. Gemmak….we know the situation of the local trader as we are one…..sometimes our son has to match stupid discounts so that he is earning almost nothing…people forget you have to be paid and cover the cost of heating, lighting, insurance, etc and if he closes up then they will be sympathetic, but it is profit which allows re-stocking and re-investment.

    The latest thought of reducing VAT is stupid…. we will be involved in the cost of repricing a lot of labels, producing a new price list on the Web, and the only saving for people on a purchase of £117 (say) will save £2.50…not exactly startling and well within the range of variation of prices in other equivalent shops.

    So we have to carry the administrative cost of following Government dictat.

  7. Our local shop keeper is from India so its not old school anymore.
    I love Retro sweetshops and love love love sweets. I buy it all on line these days.
    I hate shopping too. But online is easy and ok.
    Christmas shopping is awful.
    I know i am copping out by shopping online but i have to tell you i get some good discounts and i can shop around without bumping into people standing in the street not knowing what they are doing.

  8. Fab….I am getting an awful picture of you sitting at the computer buying sweets, waiting for them to arrive, then sitting eating them, and then ordering more, and then waiting for them to arrive, then sitting eating them, and then ordering more………

    You’ll end up as a little FAT FAB, if you are not careful!!!

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