Shop local to save our community shops

This is Why Secure Payment Solutions Believes in Community Shops

Shopping locally makes sense for many reasons.

But for me, it makes sense simply because I was raised in a thriving rural community in the 70’s and 80’s.

Quainton

The village of Quainton, nestled just off the A41 between Bicester and Aylesbury, had 4 pubs, a Post Office, an independent “Village Store” selling groceries, a “Corner Shop” selling bric-a-brac ranging from skateboards to sewing kits, and finally a little franchise supermarket. This was when my family moved there in 1975. Add to that a small warehousing operation packing locally produced potatoes (referred to in the village as the “Potato Factory”), a dealership doing a brisk trade in tractors, and a separate garage that did servicing and sold petrol, commerce really was at the heart of village life.

I moved there when I was 8, after living on the side of a hill in the middle of nowhere for the first 8 years of my life. It was when we moved to Quainton that my life changed.

Suddenly I went to a youth club and played competitive sport for the first time ever, after I joined the local football, table tennis and cricket clubs. They were all within walking distance of my home, as was my school. I walked past every one of these businesses every day on my way to school. They were a hive of activity (especially the potato factory), and they all provided good sources of employment to many of my friends’ families.

Local Commerce and Community

The thing I remember most, though, is being in these Community shops, a lot. Every Friday I hurried to school to see if my name had made the team sheet for the village football team. It was put up in the corner shop window first thing in the morning. One of my best mates lived at the Post Office, and I used to knock for him on my way to school. I recall telling the owner of the Village Stores of my heartache at missing my first penalty on my way home from a game, as I tried to console myself with a can of Coke and several bags of Football Crazy crisps. I even bought a skateboard in the Corner Shop, way before anybody had even heard of Tony Hawk. Then when I graduated to senior football, every one of the 4 pubs in the village became very useful for either drowning our sorrows or celebrating our success on a Saturday afternoon. Sadly, it was more often the former.

To get to the point, it is simply not a cliché when we hear people of a certain age musing that community shops are a fundamental part of any strong community. Be it in a Town, City or Village.

What Do Shops Bring to Our Communities

Of course, shops provide employment and stimulate the local economy. But they also teach us what is unique about our local area and the region that we live in. I can honestly say that I had never even heard of a Gypsy tart until I saw one in my local shop shortly after I moved to Wateringbury (near Maidstone) in 2003. I was also made instantly aware of the incredible brewing and hop-growing heritage of this area both from old photos on the wall and from talking to people that I bumped into in that same shop every day of the week.

That’s why I believe passionately that we must not allow corporate technology companies and Venture Capitalists to undermine our vibrant communities by appealing to our almost insatiable demand for convenience. Dare I suggest laziness? I appreciate that our lives are so, so busy nowadays, but would you dare suggest to a hop picker that their lives were not?

Can Delivery Apps Help Community Shops?

Delivery apps masquerade as quite innocent, even helpful, bits of technology, which are at the same time rather clever, slick, and cool. But believe me, they are not. They are sinister and deceitful. The delivery business model requires that their service must be located within a short bike-ride of our homes. They will achieve this by buying up our local shops to become blackened out delivery hubs once they have squeezed the life out of them and decided to cut them out of the supply chain.

The Role of Technology

To fight back, merchants and shop owners must use technology to retake control of their businesses, to be more competitive and improve their proposition and the buying experience for the customer. But we as consumers also have a duty to ourselves, our environment, and our children to embrace the health and environmental benefits of supporting small, independent, local shops in our everyday shopping habits. This is how we will regain our sense of community and local camaraderie, thereby rebuilding the fabric of our communities and our society that has been gradually eroded over the last two decades and has been exponentially undermined in the last 2 years.

This is why we have started the group Shop Local in Kent. We intend to create a vibrant, lively, and supportive community of shoppers and merchants, encouraging everyone to share thoughts and ideas about what we like, where we can get it, and supporting each other in making the stuff we like easier and more fun to get hold of and ultimately use.

If this resonates with you, whether you are a shop owner or a shopper, please open up your Smartphone camera, scan the QR code below and join our group. Then start sharing your own thoughts, comments, and ideas around what makes local shopping wonderful in our great county, also let’s see your photos of the local pubs, restaurants and shops, and their products, that you love to frequent and support.

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