Yesterday, I wrote a post called: Why I don’t buy on the High Street. I thought I’d compose a contrary reply to myself about all the good things.
Buying online is a sterile, impersonal experience. Sometimes you just can’t beat the experience of heading out with a jute bag, a spring in your step and shopping in the here and now. Sadly my local greengrocers has shut down in recent months. The bloke in there would routinely undercharge and that was probably the problem. He’s much missed.
Serendipity is part of the fun of shopping. It’s impossible not to adore the Real Patisserie. I usually pop in for one of their delicious loaves (chewy white is my favourite) but often emerge with a slice of quiche and a delightful confectionary. Today it was a strawberry tart.
Now let’s talk about Canham’s, my local butchers. They sell fantastic meat and the usual fare with smiles in a beautiful old-fashioned, squeaky clean tiled shop. (The sausage rolls with mustard are pure crack.) But I save money because I only buy what I need. I’m a bloke on my own and I don’t need six bangers of an evening. They will sell me just three.
At Christmas and birthdays, especially for the nieces, nephews and godchildren, I head to two local bookshops. The Book Nook and City Books. I go there for recommendations because I don’t know what 8 year olds read these days. The staff know their stuff and I emerge with presents. That’s worth paying sticker price for and Amazon doesn’t help me there.
And even beyond the SMEs, I like my local chains. I will often take a coffee in my neighbourhood Small Batch but I much prefer the friendly personal service from the team at Starbucks up the road. I’ve known some of the staff there for years and they are always friendly and efficient.
Small Batch staff are a bit too aloof and trendy. I don’t have tattoos or piercings or a homemade hair-do, or a shifting gender identity, so they treat me with slight suspicion and general disdain. I get a cheery “Hello Dan, the usual?” in my local Starbucks. Multinationals can give you a personal service.
I’m lucky. I live in a bustling and exciting city where small businesses have persisted and independents have survived. Brighton and Hove enjoys a vibrant shopping culture. Also, I do ok income-wise, so I’m not watching every penny. But an exciting and flourishing High Street isn’t actually a threat to online sellers. Indeed, I suspect they compliment each other.
We’ll miss it when it’s gone, needless to say. So, support the local businesses you love. The biggest threat is probably the Amazon steamroller though. What say you?