Wednesday, 17 November 2010

I’m big, you’re little, I’m right, you’re wrong!

I spend a lot of my weekends supervising a gaming group in a shop in Hythe, the owner of the shop is one of my very good friends, she’s been an ear for me when I’ve had to vent. The lads who come to the shop to play on Saturdays are a good bunch, so they may break stuff now and then but it only takes a minute or two to fix it. The shop itself is a toy shop, the stock ranges from the usual array of card games, jigsaw puzzles and board games through to action figures from the Doctor Who, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Transformers range, you can also find the latest Merlin releases there. Then we have the hobby range from good old Airfix through to model train sets and, of course, the Games Workshop range, finally there’s an extensive range of baby clothes and toys. The atmosphere is always welcoming and although Saturdays can be a bit loud the lads are never rude or offensive, over the last three years Sue and I have worked hard to build the gaming days up to the point where we were able to hold an independent gaming tournament, something that GW claim simply can’t be done. It was a roaring success and there is a chance that we may do the same next year.

Hythe High Street has an interesting array of retailers that all manner of quirky little things that make you wonder what use the thing is, but you buy one anyway. There is a good range of places to grab some nosh, the Torbay fish and chip shop is probably one of the best in the area, and if you so desired you could get a week’s grocery shopping, except parking’s not so good but there’s always Waitrose and Aldi has a pay and display.

There is now a dark cloud looming over the future of the High Street in the shape of a Sainsburys supermarket, set to open in early 2011 it will offer almost everything that the high street traders do, this will result in the eventual closing of shops such as the green grocers, the butchers, a couple of newsagents and a few of the cafes. The top dogs from the chain have come up with some plans which they claim will help encourage people into the high street such as getting traders to agree to offer a discount to any customers that have shopped in the supermarket. The chain have also offered to improve lighting along the High Street, to be honest that won’t help the traders at all, when the street lights are on, most of the shops are closed except for about half an hour in the winter. They have also offered free advertising to shop owners, of course they have to write out the details of the advert themselves, and then stick it on the ad board. One of the traders I know has already written his ad, it says “Closing down sale due to Sainsburys putting me out of business!”

Once the shop is up and running, who in their right mind is going to do their shopping and then take a walk along a high street, full of empty shops, whilst their frozen food thaws in the boot of the car. The alternative is to visit the high street before doing your shopping, yeah that’ll work, park the car and think to yourself do I wander along a road that has very few shops or shall I go into the supermarket, grab a quick cuppa and some nosh and then do my shopping and naff off home? The Hythe town councils response was that they would expect people to visit the high street before shopping, in the same way I expect people to start being a bit nicer? Bear in mind these are the same town councillor that do their shopping in Tesco and Asda, neither of which are in Hythe. Of course the day will come when they say things like “we don’t understand why so many traders have closed” and “we had no idea that this would happen!” they did have some idea of the nice little pay off they received for selling the land to a multi million pound organisation that already plans to go against certain aspect of the planning permission. The shop was supposed to be open between 8am and 8pm, but potential staff have been told that it will close at 10pm and the staff will work until midnight, that explains the need for extra lighting on the high street, so that the staff can walk home safely at night.

Does every town need a huge supermarket? Hythe already has two, plus an Iceland, so a third is overkill, there’s a large Asda 6 miles away a large Tesco and two large Sainsbury stores plus a Morrisons, anyone with half a brain can see what this store will do to an already struggling group of traders, every Saturday I hear of another shop closing because of lack of trade, it won’t be long before my friend loses her business. Eventually Hythe will be a dead town, not only will the traders suffer, but home owners may not benefit too well from this either, unless having a supermarket opposite your home could increase the value of your house. The council will wonder where their revenue has gone because no one’s paying any business rates and they’ll have to increase the council tax to compensate for the loss all because they allowed themselves to be paid off so that a supermarket, that no one seems to have wanted, could be built. It’s nice to see the big wigs looking after the community.

Bye for now.



Manky Badger said...

Supermarkets work by giving the masses readily available stuff cheaply.
Specialist stuff, such as gaming, hold little interest for them. But having said that, I'm sure a gaming shop needs the passing trade.
If there's a lot of mail order work this might be an opportunity to move to cheaper premises...?

Or organize a mass write-to-the-council protest... ?