Friday, 11 April 2014


More people are beginning to rediscover the benefits of shopping at independent local shops. It's better for the community, provides better quality, is environmentally sustainable and is free of supermarket cartels and should stimulate competition and better consumer choice.
Sick of hearing tales of multinational coffee shops who don't pay UK corporation tax? Annoyed at the way supermarkets screw customers and suppliers?  Wish that all those empty units in the local shopping centre were turned into thriving independent retailers?

Well, follow LUCY PATTERSON'S lead and do something about it. As Lucy explains, by shopping and thinking local, we can not only create employment but create communities.

Change the world by changing your little bit of it.

FROM the industrial revolution, to the dawn of the world wide web, it would appear that we are constantly led to believe that international is better than national; national is better than local.

But what about local?

In this age of globalisation and international banking meltdowns, I firmly believe that there is a place for the local to re-emerge.

I see embracing what I have on my doorstep and utilising it to its best effect as the currently missing catalyst for improving society. I am not talking about buying successfully ‘localised’ products and services; ones that we are led to believe have been developed with our particular culture in mind; I mean grass roots local. Products and services that are developed by people actually living within the community they serve; products and services that give back to the community in which they are based.

Think back to the times when your parents or grandparents had to buy their food from local shops and producers. Said producers were accountable for their wares and their trading places formed the hub of communities. Whether it be the market stall, butchers shop or simply the farm gate; there was transparency and simplicity in the sourcing of the things we needed and if something ran out or was not available at the time, we went without; sustainability and seasonality. Simple.

Now cast your mind to the present day, when almost everything we need – and even more that we don’t – can be purchased via the internet from a supplier that works on a global scale. You don’t even have to interact with a real person to do your weekly shop and you certainly don’t need to worry about whether asparagus is in season before you click ‘buy’!

And if you work from home - as many of us do these days - then chances are you can go days without engaging face to face with a single other soul beyond your immediate household. (Face time does not count.)

Are you feeling the sense of community?

Do you relate to your neighbours?

Do you even know your neighbours?

Now I’m not na├»ve enough to believe that globalisation doesn’t have its place. Indeed it stems back further in time than the ‘powers that be’ would like us to believe. It is not a wholly new phenomenon – just think of the spice trails of the fifteenth century. The difference now is that it has become an extreme. An extreme that too many people accept as the norm, without question.

You need a book. You visit Tesco.

You need milk and a loaf of bread. You visit Tesco.

You need your shoes heeling. Oh, now why has the little cobblers shop on the High Street closed down? You need your shoes heeling. You buy new shoes in Tesco.

You don’t worry about the cobbler losing his livelihood. You don’t worry about how he is now feeding and clothing his family, even though he lives on your street. You didn’t even know he lived on your street.

You see where I’m going with this don’t you? Sure, I’m attempting to tug at your heart strings, but if you’re reading this with any emotion at all, I’m onto a winner. You see thankfully, slowly but surely, there are a growing band of people like me – and hopefully you – who are making a conscious decision to get back out into their community, discover what small local business’ there are in their area, ask their neighbours what they do for a living and then try to support them in doing so.

New buoyancy is developing. A new form of local economic and community empowerment is emerging. People are looking to places other than Starbucks to buy their morning coffee. The knock on effect of this is that people are becoming more aware of the impact their pound can have within their local community; meaning they are supporting themselves as well as their neighbours.

Technological advances and the emergence of social media are being reclaimed for the benefit of ‘the local’ with dedicated hash-tagged hours surfacing on platforms such as Twitter to give voice to the small local business’ and community groups that would otherwise not be found and who certainly do not have the marketing budgets required to survive in the dog eat dog world of the multi-national corporations. This is more dog help dog.

Puppy socialisation at its best. Now if I lay down and play nice, will you give me a biscuit? I can recommend several great local bakers.

JULIAN SAYER is on holiday but will return next week for a GOOD FRIDAY FINANCIAL


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  1. Hear! Hear! We are losing our communities and our minds in this disposible world!

  2. Totally agree. Retail parks and online shopping are alienating us from our very being. By nature, humans are social creatures who require face to face social interaction. We are not just faceless 'consumers' or economic units to be exploited and manipulated. Deny people social relationships and they will develop mental health issues. Continue to waste and pollute our finite planet's natural resources and we will suffer the effects of extreme environmental issues,

  3. The Loerzels and Andy; you raise a very valid point with regard to this affecting people's mental health. Maybe it's just a coincidence that mental health issues are on the rise though...right?!

  4. What I like about London is that there is a sense of community, with local coffees and the likes. That said, I am still struggling when I see that my green beans come from Kenya or elsewhere. There is no local groceries around here. How did we get to this? I sometimes wonder. And yes, I know my neighbours.

  5. Excellent points! I'm glad that you wrote this in such a balanced manner. Though we can't do away with globalisation or just simply accuse it of being 'evil', it is true that we need to achieve some median point and not forget the value of 'going local' and being in touch with our communities. There is so much space for alienation in our postmodern world that it's often easy to forget that we all have a natural need to 'connect' with each other and the world around us, and that denying that need has its repercussions, whether it's to the earth's health or ours (physical and mental). Anyway, I'll stop babbling. Again, excellent post!!

  6. There is no local groceries around here. How did we get to this vimax canada ? I sometimes wonder. And yes, I know my neighbours...!!!