Local shops

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Blacklisted
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Sep 22 2005 21:06
Local shops

What do people think about the arguments for 'local independent shops' as opposed to 'identikit highstreets' made up of massive TNC's etc etc?

Im havin a debate with a mate who thinks "that locally owned, locally sited, independant shops are beneficial to the local economy, local communities and environmentally. Yes it's still capitalism, but it's a step away from transnational corporations pursing profit at the expense of society and the environment, and it's a step towards sustainability and justice." He also told me to see these webpages:

http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/local_ghost.aspx

http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/clonetown.aspx

http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/local_works_top.aspx

In my view though capitalism is capitalism, surely still based on exploitation of natural resources and wage labour (even if shops owner is same person thats working, the products, transport, builing etc is still gonna be wage labour), capitalist exchange relationship etc so is neither sustainable nor just. Plus J Sainsbury started our as a fuckin greegrocer so in what way is a move AWAY from TNC's? Capital needs to expand right?

Anyway, just wondered what others thought (so I can nick arguments that support my position and ignore any that supports my mates! smile )

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cantdocartwheels
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Sep 22 2005 21:42

Desiring small shops is at a basic level commodity fetishism, because it excludes the way in which goods are produced and the early stages of distribution (eg transport) before retail. The amount of goods produced in tescos could simply not be made by craft industries, so either your friend is argueing for

a) a massie reduction in production leading to shortages in order to de-industrialise in some way confused

or

b) an inefficient means of distribution that would cost far more in labour and transport leading to large price increases

either way, its not a particularly logical arguement since not only would both of these be detrimental to our living conditions but also this would not occur under capitalism since companies are unlikely to do either of these things.

Try to get them to think about it outisde the monetary sphere also, if you were just distributing goods, then 9 times out of 10 it be better to have one large store that people can come and get what they want from rather than 30 small outlets.

For another example of how a larger scale distribution of goods is very often better than smaller outlets, look at the way in which rationing during WW2 helped put an end to the high levels of malnutrition of the pre-war years as after the war the people emerged stronger and refused to go back to the hunger marches of the 30's.

Blacklisted
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Sep 22 2005 22:20

Cant do:

I get yer first point about drops in production to de-industrialise, and I think this might be what hes getting at actually. Hes a Green Party member if that makes any more sense? I dont really know their politics.

The second point though I hadnt considered and dont entirely understand. I mean obviously being against capitalism Im as against small shops as big TNC's but hadnt actually thought about them being worse? Why would distributing goods to 30 shops in a high street be different to 1 big shop on the same site? I think hes arguing that if goods were produced near to where they were sold it would cut transport etc?

Also Im interested in the WW2 thing but dont know anything about it, what happened? I thought rationing surely cut the amount of food available not other way round? confused

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Sep 22 2005 22:26

We've got the same thing happening in Sudbury (little market town in West Suffolk), and from that I'd say depends on the circumstances. If you're talking about an area that is already primarily urban, very high population etc, I'd be tempted to go with Cantdo and Jack because of the logistical side and severe limits to space implied.

On the other hand, because of the centralised nature of a chain like Tescos, for example, which is moving into Sudbury, taking all profits away into a central national pot and then into the hands of extremely wealthy people who then spend it in very wealthy unrelated areas such as London or on very expensive high-class commodities (again, most likely produced abroad or in London) is a fucking retarded idea if you're talking about the health of a small local economy.

The likely loss to the community in Sudbury is estimated to be £4m a year once the local shops, with their local owners close (that's for a small rural town), as custom deserts not only the shops, but their - primarly local - service industries as well. Rural towns in particular die on their arse when supermarkets come in because, for example, a dead town centre means a dead community life, less social interaction, exodus of the skilled labour force to the centralised production sources producing for the Tescos.

Edit: Come to think of it, doesn't help the average carless villager much either, as buses to the Tesco aren't as regular or direct as your average town centre route.

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 22 2005 22:37

Hi

Some people, especially consummate pedestrians like me, just like town centre shopping. I can pick stuff up on the way home from work or out walking in the evenings and weekends, and the businesses provide custom for pubs etc. It’s even more convenient than home delivery, and it gives you something to look at when you’re in the town.

It’s just a matter of taste, and a lot of Green types have it in common, although I see the issue from a slightly different angle to most of them.

In order to defeat your opponent’s position you will have to convince him of the moral superiority of ghost towns. Not easy, perhaps you could go for a pro-“peace and quiet” approach.

Love

Chris

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Sep 23 2005 01:03
blacklisted wrote:
Cant do:

I get yer first point about drops in production to de-industrialise, and I think this might be what hes getting at actually. Hes a Green Party member if that makes any more sense? I dont really know their politics.

neither do i really, not keen on the idea of reducing production of goods though.

Quote:
The second point though I hadnt considered and dont entirely understand. I mean obviously being against capitalism Im as against small shops as big TNC's but hadnt actually thought about them being worse?

At present large outlets and chain stores dominate retail and I wasn't really saying we needed a lot more chain stores right now, i mean fairly obviosuly we have plenty of tescos, just that i don't think we should be replacing them with smaller stores.

Quote:
Why would distributing goods to 30 shops in a high street be different to 1 big shop on the same site? I think hes arguing that if goods were produced near to where they were sold it would cut transport etc?

well thats a totally different arguement, i don't see how having lots of small industries is going to be more efficient though.

Quote:
Also Im interested in the WW2 thing but dont know anything about it, what happened? I thought rationing surely cut the amount of food available not other way round? confused

Well if you could afford a lot of food then yeah, but for large numbers of people a meat ration of eight ounces vastly improved your diet.

http://www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/War/londonEvac.html#nat

The myth of rationing being ''really hard'' to bear during ww2 has mostly been put about by conservatives, it carried on till the 50's and there were never any major protests against it.

Generally WW2 saw a huge shift to the left in the UK, trade union membership doubled, membership of the communist party was 60,000 in 1943, wages increased massively, it was the foundation of the welfare state basically.

Quote:
Saii: We've got the same thing happening in Sudbury (little market town in West Suffolk), and from that I'd say depends on the circumstances. If you're talking about an area that is already primarily urban, very high population etc, I'd be tempted to go with Cantdo and Jack because of the logistical side and severe limits to space implied.

Well yeah i agree with that. I mean take colchester, part of the bus development plan is for the replacement of small retail stores with a few new large retail outlets but fairly obviously I'm not going to support that and i don't think we really need another house of fraser. Like you say its a case by case basis realistically.

darren red star
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Sep 23 2005 07:28

Now, now, this is a local shop for local people. Theres nothing for you here.

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PaulMarsh
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Sep 23 2005 07:47

Amazed no one has posted this image yet:

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Rob Ray
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Sep 23 2005 08:59

Oo ar you townies never take us seriously, you're all biased against the YOKELS.

MalFunction
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Sep 23 2005 09:38

greets

if you have a car or live nearby then tescos et al are very good ways of getting your shopping done.

if, however you live 10 miles from the nearest town with big supermarkets you'll want the small local shops in your village to survive. only because they don't get the discount breaks from suppliers that larger shops get they're nearly always more expensive.

another point - if you want tescos / wal-mart to determine what magzines you buy fair enough. personally i like the service i can get from local newsagents (mind you - they can only get what the near monolpoly wholesalers sell, but there's always the possibility they'll put other mags on their racks/ counters)

another point - village shops often serve as a post office. if the shop goes under the village loses its post office. means you have to travel miles just to get stamps / post letters etc.

generally we won't defeat capitalism buy buying commodities in shops of whatever size or location. but for people in rural communities we'd prefer to keep our local shops.

mal

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Sep 23 2005 09:42

i like supporting a local workers co-op supermarket which is just 7 mins cycle ride away. They are also extremely affordable (perhaps because there are no bosses creaming off the profits) and prices compare favourably to local sainsburys supermarket.

captainmission
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Sep 23 2005 11:33

would that be the local wokers co-op supermarket that sacks people when the devlop RSI?

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JDMF
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Sep 23 2005 11:35
captainmission wrote:
would that be the local wokers co-op supermarket that sacks people when the devlop RSI?

unicorn groceries?

captainmission
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Sep 23 2005 11:47

yeah, one ofg my friend is looking at taking them to an industrial tribual cos she was 'let go' after developing RSI. Not the first time its happened either.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 23 2005 11:53
JDMF wrote:
i like supporting a local workers co-op supermarket which is just 7 mins cycle ride away.

Bosses' co-op, AFAIK sad

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Sep 23 2005 11:55
captainmission wrote:
yeah, one ofg my friend is looking at taking them to an industrial tribual cos she was 'let go' after developing RSI. Not the first time its happened either.

thats a bastard. Hope she wins - funny how you can get a totally different picture from different people, eh? I know some people who work there and for them thats a fantastic place to work with no special qualifications and so on. They are quite pleased, but of course thats never the full story.

Different grades of shit i guess...

Anyways, the place is miles better than anything else around.

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JDMF
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Sep 23 2005 11:57

and also, a bit of customer pressure would go a long way there i'm sure, so if she wants to kick up a fuss about it, i'm sure it would not be hard to get the people who use that shop giving some shit. I know i would, in fact i'll ask the people i know this w/e.

Mike Harman
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Sep 23 2005 16:16

Cantdo, you're mad arguing against less production of goods.

The problem with loads of big retailers (like Dixons, PC World, ASDA etc.) is they sell over-priced tat that's built to fall apart in 5 minutes. The issue isn't the quantity of goods available, it's built-in obsolescence and overpricing. Small shops sell tat as well, but they can also (sometimes) provide a much more personalised service than big retailers- like actually repairing things instead of selling inflated 3 year insurance policies. Food from greengrocers, fishmongers, butchers, delis and market stalls is often much cheaper and fresher than it is from supermarkets.

For economies of scale, the most efficient method is on-line mail order, not big box retailing. The postal service, or even delivery vans, is a way more efficient method of getting goods to people than them driving miles to retail parks. It also allows for a much, much bigger selection, and a warehouse takes up much less space than a shop.

With companies like TESCO, which are increasingly moving into the "local small shop" market - the reason their prices are cheaper aren't because of economies of scale, it's because they squeeze producers. A delivery to a small shop from an own-brand distribution centre isn't all that different to a delivery to a small shop from a wholesaler. What's different is the purchasing power of a large company.

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Sep 23 2005 16:57
Catch wrote:

The problem with loads of big retailers (like Dixons, PC World, ASDA etc.) is they sell over-priced tat that's built to fall apart in 5 minutes.

but then Jack can buy things again and again and he will be really happy smile

Blacklisted
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Sep 23 2005 17:18

Thanks for the answers, interesting.

I think it might not have been clear that the argument is not really about whats better in the here and now, i.e. under capitalism, its more about what sort of society we are aiming for - an ideal. And I think this is about people who actually see nothing wrong with small scale capitalism as their ideal society.

I tend to agree with what Catch just said, but as I said above I agree with Cant do in saying that whilst we obviously dont want anymore big superstores, we shouldnt be seeking to replace them with small stores either.

I also agree its a case by case basis.

Mike Harman
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Sep 23 2005 17:43

One more thing. If shops are close to where you live, and you can get most things you need from them, then there's a fair chance you'll interact with people around you much more - particularly if shops are mixed with cafés and pubs etc.

A good example is the Post Office trying to get rid of pension books. Elderly eople refused not to go and pick it up from the post office once per week because it was a social opportunity, not just a financial one. So the PO eventually made special bank accounts available that it'd be paid into, then people could go down the post office to take the cash out of the account. That's a social function that completely outweighs the relative efficiency of direct debit.

On-line shops, to an extent, mirror this. I've got book/cd/film recommendations from discussion forums for years, which otherwise would only be available in the most specialist of specialist shops. Discussing and ordering stuff like that on-line isn't that far removed from doing so in Freedom, or Rough Trade, or Housman's or whatever. You can almost guarantee it wouldn't happen in a Borders, HMV or Waterstone's (and they don't stock stuff I want anyway, or if they do it's priced twice as much.)

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Sep 23 2005 20:46

Hi

Quote:
i don't see how having lots of small industries is going to be more efficient though

More robust supply due to diversity and a safe level of redundancy. Competition to develop better quality and price. Adaptability to change. Greater potential for innovation and technological advance. Easier to implement workplace democracy and forge direct links with local communities. That's a decent cost/benefit payoff, and hence “efficient”.

Love

Chris

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revol68
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Sep 24 2005 00:27

jack you are soo talking shit.

Anyway your a shit veggie so you don't appreciate good food.

Mike Harman
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Sep 24 2005 09:07

Jack, you're talking out your arse.

PC World

Ebuyer

Out of my local Sainsbury's, Walthamstow Market, and the Chinese and Turkish supermarkets just down the road, which have loads of stuff that the supermarkets don't have, Sainsbury's is by far the most expensive and the fruit and veg is obviously less fresh with little variety. Same for the ASDA a bit further down the road. I shop there sometimes - mainly for milk/cheese/cereals, or when they're extending the working day to 8pm after the street market closes.[/url]

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Steven.
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Sep 24 2005 10:19

Jack - you're an idiot. Have you not heard of built-in-obsolescence?

Someone on here who you know used to work at Dixons and part of his job was smashing up equipment with a big hammer, when the new model came in!

redyred
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Sep 24 2005 11:09
John. wrote:
Jack - you're an idiot. Have you not heard of built-in-obsolescence?

Surely that's down to the producer, not the retailer? I mean it's not like there are little local shops selling longer lasting computers than the ones at PC world, is it?

And aside from quality and price smaller places don't give you nearly as much choice.

Quote:
Food from greengrocers, fishmongers, butchers, delis and market stalls is often much cheaper and fresher than it is from supermarkets.

Yeah, if you want veg that is covered in dirt and looks like an old man's nose. In my experience the only thing local shops are really good for is off-licences.

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Sep 24 2005 13:09

Hmm, in terms of what local shops can be good for, I'd certainly add butcher, grocer, baker to that list, also post office as Catch said, quite possibly bookshop, music store.

Butcher and grocer, because they don't have the ability to pursue overseas buying, and would anyway likely be cut out by supermarkets' monopoly buy status, tend to get their food more locally. Because of Britain's more stringent pesticide/fertiliser law, and tight EU regulation, and short journey time, high tech farming methods developed inthis country to try and keep up with overseas scale efficiencies, the quality of the food is both better and more efficiently produced.

Dunno who reads 'A sideways look' here as well, but he did an excellent piece explaining the nutritional content of mass produced bread etc in Freedom which is well worth reading when talking about comparison between bread produced in a massive factory (removes all the goodness) and bread made in small bakeries in local shops. In terms of the extra costs, it's still almost certainly more efficient to buy from a bread shop simply because per bite, you're ingesting more goodness.

Bookshops/record stores are likely to actually be cheaper than their big store equivalents, cos of second-hand options, and often, because of the local connection, they'll develop contacts to suit their regualr customers, unlike the big stores. In both cases, the small-scale individual nature of the business actually makes it more flexible when dealing with the often eccentric needs of customers. They also help provide more variety than the superstores, in that they will likely stock personal choices of the owners, local stuff tht wouldn't make it into the big stores, who stock things which you already know about from the mainstream media advertisers, usually online.

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oisleep
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Sep 24 2005 14:00
Catch wrote:
Jack, you're talking out your arse.

PC World

Ebuyer

Out of my local Sainsbury's, Walthamstow Market, and the Chinese and Turkish supermarkets just down the road, which have loads of stuff that the supermarkets don't have, Sainsbury's is by far the most expensive and the fruit and veg is obviously less fresh with little variety. Same for the ASDA a bit further down the road. I shop there sometimes - mainly for milk/cheese/cereals, or when they're extending the working day to 8pm after the street market closes.[/url]

yeah it's a fuckin myth that supermarkets are cheaper (for stuff like meat and "fresh" veg/fruit), and as for being better quality and longer lasting you must be fucking joking, maybe some of it's longer lasting cos it's synthetic shite though

they're convenient yes, but cheaper, better quality and longer lasting, not a chance

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oisleep
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Sep 24 2005 17:17
Jack wrote:
oisleep wrote:
they're convenient yes, but cheaper, better quality and longer lasting, not a chance

Why lie to yourself like this? Clearly Tesco is going to be fucking cheaper. I mean, try find a pint of milk for 30p in a local shop. Stuff from Tesco tastes nicer than stuff you get from local shops, too.

read the post properly you dork, where i say it is not cheaper for things like meat, fruit and veg etc.. i know it's not cheaper personally and there's been various studies lately proving it, in terms of buying a bulk of shopping from tescos and comparing that with produce bought elsewhere, that's an objective fact

as for stuff from tesco tasting nicer, that's your personal opinion and if you like it keep shopping there, don't project it onto anyone else though and think that'll win you an argument

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oisleep
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Sep 24 2005 17:39

people shop at tesco cos it's convenient and they are deceived into thinking it's cheaper overall, based purely on a number of lines which are undoubtedly cheaper but unless you are only buying this stuff and nothing else it's dearer

it's the same as everything else, poorer people pay more for their stuff (pound for pound) than rich people

this survey here for example

Quote:
So what did we get for the money? The mixed grill was for 4 people so 4 steaks, 4 lamb chops, 4 or 5 pieces of kidney and the same of liver, 8 sausages and 4 slices of black pudding. This all came to £14 from Southall's in Great Barford, just down the road.

I think the best way to compare with various supermarkets is online so we used "virtual" shopping baskets to compare prices. The total at Tesco came to £16.55 and Sainsburys was £15.60

and

Quote:
It also has to be taken into account that the meat from the butchers is more accountable and better produced so even if the price is similar the supermarket products are inferior. One example is that we could have priced meat at the supermarkets of ‘similar’ quality but 4 organic lamb chops were £11 on their own and you wouldn’t have believed me if the supermarket bill was £40 but it could easily have been

that's just for meat but the basics stuff is the same, tesco cheapest place for milk is it?

Quote:
Tesco Express Village Food and Wine

Eggs half dozen .72p .69p

Cornflakes 500g £1.29p £1.25p

Sugar 1kg .71p .89p

Milk 1L .60p .60p

Milk 2L £1.07p .99p

Hovis 800g £1.07p .69p

Baked beans .29p .25p

Kitchen towels £1.02p .99p

Toilet paper £1.32p £1.39p

Cola own brand .55p .59p

sorry for crap formatting

http://camden.greenparty.org.uk/Campaigns/campaignshops.htm

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Sep 24 2005 17:40
Jack wrote:
The proletariat sides with me. 8)

tbh I don't know about meat. But fruit a veg, unless I want to pick through nasty mouldy crap at the market to find one bit that's just firm enough to be edible, I find Tesco cheapest. Altho I don't really eat veg much either.

But definatly for fruit.

christ so here's a boy who states that he doesn't eat meat and rarely buys veg, but from his own experience of (not regularly buying meat or veg) tesco is cheaper for meat and veg, nice one....