In praise of the corner shop

2017-08-01 06:02

We’ve all seen the process.

A shopping centre suddenly appears in your local neighbourhood, with one or two supermarkets as anchor tenants. Using one of the few benefits of the franchise system, prices of goods are offered at knock-down levels. The next thing your friendly local grocery shops cannot cope with the unfair competition. So they close. The supermarkets now have a virtual monopoly and raise prices covertly to levels that now exceed what was on offer at the small grocery stores.

The frenetic shopping process at these supermarket chains has become a con in my opinion. Barring overalls, we have become mere factory workers inside these “warehouses”.

Starting with the parking debacle, then finding exactly what you want whilst avoiding other temptations are the first hurdles. Loading goods in a trolley, unloading at the checkout, reloading into a trolley, unloading into your car, dealing with the ever-present car guards and then escaping without bumping some other car simply add to the aggravation.

And often enough you don’t find what you want. Last week in Johannesburg not one franchised shop in the Linksfield shopping complex had a tube of contact glue. A corner shop I found closer to home did. Several tins of the stuff in fact, handed to me, with a smile and a “Good morning”. Some months ago I acquired an unusual spark plug at a Plumstead family corner shop. These were not available at large franchises in the area.

I’m not saying the large chain stores don’t have a place in modern society. But please support your local friendly corner shop as much as possible. Edible goods are often cheaper and fresher. The variety of goods such as food supplements, medicinal accessories and electrical gadgets often put the larger supermarkets to shame. And usually in smaller, more affordable quantities too. In this mad world it’s great to have some real customer service and sanity that many of these little shopping havens offer. And isn’t competition always healthy?

Bruce Clemence Fish Hoek
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