Buttercross, March 27, 2015: Support your small local traders first

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Every now and again it is good to once again have a look around our town and comment, hopefully positively, about any changes that are spotted, or appear about to happen.

Thankfully, the scaffolding that has adorned the front of two shops on the west side of our market place for many months has now been removed and the shop surround to one unit has been renewed and looks impressive.

The old fish and chip shop next door has been tiled out internally and also looks neat and tidy. Another food shop coming here perhaps? We will soon know.

One thing we are not short of in our town is retail food outlets, with fast food outlets, cafes, restaurants and public houses abounding.

Something else we are not short of is charity shops, and how often do they appear at times of economic downturn?

It was interesting to hear comment made from one of our neighbouring towns that there was concern there at the number of these shops that they had appearing.

Apparently the national average is two per cent of all retail outlets.

This particular town has 10 per cent and the number is rising.

We currently have seven such shops with similar rumours of more.

Applying the “two per cent” rule, we should have more than 300 other retail outlets and obviously we are a long way short of that.

But, on the positive side these shops, together with our antique and second hand businesses contribute greatly to our recycling capability.

We also have to bear in mind that we are a low wage area and “bargain buys” figure large when most local household budgets are considered.

But it would be encouraging to see more independent traders in our town and on this score we have two such businesses just opening, facing each other across our market place. May they prosper and flourish.

Those of us with long memories will recall the times when our town was full of such businesses.

In those far off days residents of the town mentioned earlier regularly visited our town when shopping, with our, at that time, more diverse range of shops.

Now it is the other way round and the difference in the two towns, ours and theirs, is unfortunately vast and appears ever growing.

To the west of us we have another town similar to our own.

It has managed to retain a great number of its independent traders and well done to them.

It is now being reported that a large pub chain wishes to take over one of their hostelries.

Small towns such as theirs and ours need to carefully “pick” what businesses are seen to be good for our towns’ future, this obviously through the planning system, and the more independent traders that can be encouraged to trade in our town the better.