85. Local businesses. Do we need them? Do we want them?

I have written already, in post 34, about the ‘Todos tus libros’ platform, which aims to help local Spanish bookshops survive financially during the lockdown. And there are others helping different businesses, such as ‘Cuando volvamos’, much more global. I’m not aware of the same in UK, which is material for another post, but I may have just missed them. But do we really need to save local businesses? Are they important? This I guess depends on how you understand them. Most consumers see them as a means to buy goods and, therefore, fully replaceable by global behemoths with optimised distribution networks which can deliver the same goods to your door. But surely they are more. They are local employers. Maybe local outlets too for local producers (of food, art, toys, whatever). They can be local meeting places, where you bump into those people who it is nice to occasionally bump into and have a chat. Even shelter from the rain when out in town. What are they for you? Do we keep them?

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Comments

Niccy said…
Do we keep them? YES! Local, and small, businesses are real life. They are employment and outlets and all the things you say. And within that they are humanity, they are people connecting with each other and working together to achieve something. They are people communicating and connecting to achieve a shared outcome, be that pulling a pint and having a chat, producing, distributing and selling vegetables locally, or creating other products and services. Small businesses better understand real life, and are more connected to the employees and the customers.
Optimised distribution networks, cheap delivery services and all those things you describe are disconnected from the humans they drive and the humanity they drive too.
YES, we should strive to keep small businesses, variety, places to meet, experts to help us, connections to be made in the community, relationships to be made and explored. Small businesses trade in so much more than products and services in exchange for money.


Neil said…
Yes indeed, I have to agree. These often very unique places can sometimes be sanctuary for many, offering an escape from the all to familiar sterile and impersonal large retail chain outlet. The pressures that small independent local businesses are likely to be under must be immense in some cases. Internet shopping and increasing rents must surely plague the minds of the people that own and run them. You only have to spend a short while wandering around most towns to see evidence of this, with boarded up or vacant retail space.

Perhaps at the end of the day, the survival of local businesses really comes down to the age old law of economics - supply and demand. But I like to think that there's something more. These places often offer something different, something that we have some sort of connection with. In part they appeal to our conscience too. After all, we often have a choice when we choose to buy something. Perhaps pause for a moment, and imagine a your local town without them - maybe this is all we need to do.

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