What makes Lewes, and all our high streets across the district appealing places to visit? Country walks perhaps, followed by a delightful afternoon tea or browsing through antique shops and flea markets? How about a weekly shop?
No, I’m serious. We Sussex residents hold our county in high esteem, but without regularly supporting local enterprises, they will cease to exist. Sadly the infrequent Victoria slice and a cuppa are hardly enough to keep the wheels of industry and trade oiled.
Is it the cost? We all know that a chicken or packet of Hobnobs will set us back more in a local shop than in a supermarket, but if we continue with this line of thought, then we are missing the point entirely. The general public is fickle – oh yes we are. We are frequently disappointed at the closure of a delightful village shop, which in reality we rarely have if ever, patronised.
The adage of charity starting at home is worth airing in this instance. If we each purchased just one item from our local butchers, bakers or Needlemakers, ha, then we would be supporting the very backbone of what makes our East Sussex towns and villages so alluring.
Shop-owners struggle to compete with the purchasing power of the large conglomerates, but isn’t it increasingly more valuable to know the provenance of what we are purchasing and indeed the impact of its carbon footprint?
Locally-sourced produce is becoming an increasingly important consideration in our daily values, but what small steps towards championing these ideals can we take? Actions do speak louder than words. A visit to the monthly farmers’ market perhaps – it doesn’t get fresher than that, and the owner will be proud to tell all about the item you are purchasing. Embracing your locally-owned shops and buying something unique would be inspiring. Individuality was once a sought-after commodity in itself. Alas, it would seem that now many would instead follow the masses.
This is a sad reflection of today’s consumerism/throw-away society, so heavily influenced by the marketing tricks employed by the masters of sales targets. It has become abundantly clear over the years, that however reasonable a restaurant menu might be, for example, the alcoholic beverages rarely are and not considered until the shock of the bill (or should I say William?) arrives.
I have been lured in by the tantalising menu (well my tastebuds have) and they will make their profit on the alcohol consumed. These same marketing ploys apply to shop. Gimmicks and deals draw you as the consumer in, and before you know it, items have been purchased that will never see the light of day.
So where is the cost-effectiveness then? Buying quality over quantity seems to be a forgotten trait, so perhaps we should go back to our roots – whatever colour they maybe!!
It has to be said – well it doesn’t, but I’m going to tell it anyway – that looking out for your own was also once a famous line of thought. One local shopkeeper ensuring he only bought from another but does this still happen? Isn’t it as crucial for local businesses to extol the virtues of like-minded impresarios?
It may come as a surprise to learn that Lewes, for instance, has the highest number of independent shops in the UK, all of which we should be embracing wholeheartedly. With the lead-up to Christmas – sorry, but it will be here before you can say January sales – surely this would be an ideal period in which to favour some homegrown retail therapy?
Go on, you never know, you may enjoy the novelty of not lining the pockets of the NCP. Ah, parking, don’t get me started on that one, better leave it for next time. Happy shopping. •