A Nation of shopkeepers

My daughter came home the other day enraged, her favourite Indian restaurant in our high street had closed. It was being replaced; she informed me, with a note of incredulity in her voice with yet another fast food outlet.

The offending newcomer this time was one selling pizzas with a name sounding like an Italian version of a game played with black tablets with white spots.

Just how many fast food outlets does one small suburb need?

Well the answer somewhat surprised as I spent 15 minutes making a survey of our high street.

[O]nce the street provided all the usual outlets for sustenance and comfort: butcher, baker, greengrocer, fishmonger and my hardware haven.

Our local authority in an attempt to give us a balanced retail experience has given us: 13 fast food outlets; 7 hairdressers; 4 nail bars/sun tanning studios; 3 charity shops and 3 estate agents.

Napoleon Bonaparte once famously described the English as ‘A Nation of shopkeepers’, this at a time when the rich would eat at home the food prepared by their staff. While the poor, because they had no choice would eat at the local pie shop.

Danny Boyle’s plans for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics are said to be reflecting the customs and values that made Britain. Well this should include having unique local shops each with their own identity where your daily needs may be purchased.

Within a few years not only will every high street peddle the same products, only those retailing fast eating or your coiffeur will be available.

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