Friday, 11 March 2016

When Huge Companies Divide Small Towns

I live in a small corner of East Kent in a lovely little seaside town, that has a great little personality and a nice selection of independent shops and coffee shops. Now the shops in town are not great, in fact some say they are a bit crap as it has sadly declined over the years with rising rents and charges and people wanting to go big outlets and shopping centres, But my little town seems to hold its own and people really do support the independent shops. That is except the local town Councillors!
Independent shops make our town like it is

A few days before Christmas last year the staff at the local Shoe Zone were made redundant, They were told that Shoe zone would be pulling out of town and sadly that would leave us without a shoe shop (other than Clark's). As sad as this is, it soon turned to anger for many people who live in the town as it emerged that Starbucks had swiftly come in and offered more rent than Shoe Zone could pay, So their sneaky underhanded tactics have succeeded in making life difficult for many people. But surely if Starbucks opens its doors in Deal, what will happen to all the independent coffee shops? They are local companies who are owned by local people, hey one could even be your neighbour, your brother or your son. So what happens when a huge company comes in and takes all this away, they take the profit and the local people start to feel the effects? Its not like Starbucks are about to put money back into the community - Heck they don't even pay the full UK tax, So why would our local town council get behind a huge brand like Starbucks instead of supporting local communities and seeing what they need? Well I do believe that Peter Jull of Deal and Walmer Chamber of Trade says it all!  He said: “There’s a national trend for traditional high streets to move away from shops to places offering refreshments. It’s very difficult for Deal to buck that trend. There is the fact that many would consider Deal over subscribed with coffee shops already.
It appears that Costa has a wider following than Starbucks and Starbucks will probably have less of an effect than Costa did. Most of the independents survived the arrival of Costa. Hopefully there is enough trade for all.”  full story here

Really! I have to ask myself why would we want more coffee shops than retail? What happens to the elderly that want to buy things from their town - the town they grew up in, the town that is theirs! Below are just a few of our independent coffee shops in one street, all likely to suffer soon.

Of course there have been whispers over the years the years that the town council want people to come down from London and buy second homes to get away from the rat race, So is this all for the benefit of the Londoners? Are they favouring the idea of turning this into a fashionista town for the people that don't even live here? Why would we want retail when we can just sit and sip coffee all day long?

What ever the reason is for the choice of allowing Starbucks into our town, I am sure they have some reason for doing so! As for the small businesses that are likely to suffer and the people that cant afford to buy new things because the they have to buy out of town, I suppose we don't matter! We as a small town should be fighting against the rise of online shopping and we should be supporting our local shops, but with town councils like this one placing coffee shops instead of 'proper shops' then it feels like a losing battle!
The unfortunate casualty!
The planning permission meeting is today and there have been 88 objections, yet Starbucks are so confident that they have this deal done and dusted, that they have been advertising for staff for weeks. Surely this is taking the piss a bit, when they haven't even got the planning permission to convert the shop to a coffee shop. Do they know something that we don't?

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