Today I finally got the opportunity to do a shopping trip, on foot, at my local High Street. This was the expedition, which, at the start of my experiment 15 days ago, I thought I would do anything up to a few times a week! How wrong I was…
I woke up with a cold and it was threatening to snow outside but we were running out of food so I had a ‘now or never’ feeling, especially as I had a child-free morning. I popped some painkillers, put on several layers of warm clothes and found a neglected rucksack. My bemused partner waved me off, partly (I like to think) in admiration that I was going to such lengths in poor conditions and partly (I can’t deny) questioning my sanity in refusing to take the car to carry my heavy load and it was now snowing.
The shops are five minute, pleasant walk away from the house. My first stop was the chemist. I had to wait to be served but it gave me the chance to look around and I impulse bought some peppermints in a tin which I can safely say I’ve never done at the supermarket. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to whether this is a good or bad thing…
I then passed a Barnardo’s charity shop. I saw they had greetings cards and I was so impressed I’ll give you the link http://greetingcards.barnardos.org.uk/shop/cat2.asp There was a good selection of cards from 79p, so I bought enough to cover our celebrations for a few months.
Next was the fruit and veg shop which, as I’ve previously blogged about, I’ve never visited in the 6 years that I’ve lived in my house. The first thing I saw was a shelf of unusual soft drinks in beautiful bottles. Perhaps I am easily pleased but I immediately got excited and was delighted with what I found inside – new flavours of jam, chilli oatcakes, fresh bread as well as a good selection of fruit and veg. Best of all (if a bit boring) I can get my buggy in so I can return with the children when I need to stock up.
As I said yesterday I am finding it difficult to price compare but the fruit and veg seemed reasonably priced and the more specialised goods, although more expensive than regular brands were worth the price.
I was keen to visit a bakers and grocers but, it would seem, I am too late if I want to shop independently – my only option was chain shops. I can only assume that independent shops have not been able to compete with our large 24/7 supermarket which is almost on the high street. However I duly visited the bakers and bought potato scones and sandwiches for lunch. The experience was similar to visiting the bakery section of the supermarket.
The only grocery shop had a name (that I’d never heard of) which caused me concern that this might be part of a big chain of supermarkets. I put my bags down on the street and looked up the internet on my phone. From what I could see, it wouldn’t cause me to fail in my drive to give up supermarkets for 28 days. I asked the assistant at the till about what ‘type’ of shop it was but he either wasn’t sure or was unable (or unwilling, fair enough!) to clearly explain to me. On returning home, I have looked again on the internet and it seems that independent shops can join the group (thus becoming part of a chain) and benefit from being part of a network by getting business advice and a range of other services. It was a small shop but I managed to get most of what I’d hoped for.
Despite the cold (and my cold!) I thoroughly enjoyed shopping on my local high street. I love where I live and the experienced reinforced that. I found almost everything I needed but without the car, I wasn’t able to buy as much as I would have liked to. I fear for the future of my high street though. There are some empty units and chains seem to be where I would hope to find independent shops. I am concerned that I may have started my quest to ‘shop local’ too late.