Going to town used to be a “thing”, didn’t it? I remember getting really excited about going to the shops on a Saturday with my mother, or going as an outing with friends when we were old enough to go alone. This was a time before mobile ‘phones, when we used good old fashioned red telephone boxes to communicate that we needed to be picked up.
I always used to love seeing goods in stores, being able to try clothes on, explore new fashions, being able to touch the fabrics, and being able to smell products (The Body Shop springs to mind!!).
Somewhere along the line, Going To Town has become a chore. With more cars and less parking available, driving around trying to find a place to park is a bore, let alone the expense. Infrequent bus services in some areas make it challenging to leave the car behind. And town centres themselves have become undesirable places to visit.
Sadly beautiful little independent shops have been forced out by chains with behemoth stores. The charming old parts of town centres have been eclipsed by soulless new-build bolt-ons that have not retained appeal. In my view, towns have been allowed to become characterless making any visit to any town a mirror image of the last, due to ubiquitous names dominating the high streets.
And yet, these big names are in trouble. By taking on vast spaces to fill, quality has been compromised. Massive areas have been filled with cheap, shapeless, poor quality goods, which have every chance of ending up in landfill. Why be big if it means not being the best?
Blame is apportioned to various parties, but maybe it’s time to stop blaming and start repairing the damage. I strongly believe the high street can be revived, but only if we start small, and prop up those providing a truly unique experience. Small independent retailers who have been forced out of the high street deserve to be supported. May they come back in droves and flourish. #smallisbeautiful