Friday, 22 May 2009

Absolutely infuriating...

A small rant. I shop locally, I love shopping locally and willingly do not enter a supermarket except in extreme circumstances. But I have to shop on a Saturday morning because I work. That's fine. I enjoy doing it, I shop in west Dulwich which is a particularly pleasant place to spend a Saturday morning and I adore seeing the same people, seeing the seasons change, etc, etc.

But I cannot support my local shops if they don't support me. I actually live closer to Herne Hill (in that it's one bus ride, rather than two - oh for a car...). Coming out of the station at Herne Hill on Tuesday evening (not my normal station but perfectly good when there's an unexplained fire on the train to Crystal Palace - best avoided at all costs. Right next to the station is a reasonable grocer's and a reasonable butcher's (and a fishmongers, but they've gone a ball of chalk, sadly). And they're closed. Now, I don't get home at some god-forsaken hour - this was about 6.30 - but they weren't open. And I couldn't help thinking on the bus ride home, what a bloody wasted opportunity. Just down the road in West Norwood are FOUR thriving supermarkets - thriving because right over their doors are huge signs saying 'Open from 7-11'. By so rigidly adhering to this traditional 9-5 policy, aren't local shops driving us into supermarkets?

Let's face it. You come out of the station, perhaps musing on supper, or perhaps not, but let's imagine this is the case. You know there's little in the fridge, you can't afford another take-out and right there is a butcher's and a veg shop. Wouldn't you think 'Aha - chops and salad for tea?' and perhaps be tempted to pop in and get something? But if they're not open, you think about where is open, and - inexorably, like a little train being pulled by a child - you're pulled into the supermarket, where you might still think 'hmmm chops and salad' but possibly by now, you're tired and want to go home and collapse and you think 'hmmm ready meal'. Do you see my point?

Now, MCD thinks - and he's probably right - that I live in a food bubble. That in my world and work we all shop differently to the majority, we spend all day thinking about small producers and local shopping and food and consequently we spend more time and effort than most in putting together a dinner and that a shop or two open on the way home would be fabulous. We could skip in - a la Nigel - and shop on a daily basis and with a wicker basket. Most people shop on a Saturday so why should shops open irregular hours if their customers are only there at weekends?

And yet, and yet... it's a specious argument. Surely if we're not given the choice, we will continue to head for the supermarket like blinkered ones? Surely they have to do their bit too to encourage our custom? People are lazy, they like familiarity - so why can't that familarity be extended to the independents? Just a late night once a week might be a start. Why do they have to make it so damn hard?

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