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Local Shops for Local People
Butcher holding sausages
Could sarah soon be buying her produce locally?
Last updated: 25 November 2004 1026 GMT
line Twenty-something Sarah Bickenson always shops in a large supermarket. But is it now time to start tasting the delights of the local greengrocer?
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quote How exciting to run up and down the aisles of the gigantic warehouse, discovering new delights in the confectionery section.quote
Sarah Bickenson

A topic I have been pondering recently is the disappearance of the independent retailer.

I have on many occasions heard the older generations mourning the loss of their beloved local grocers and butchers; the family businesses who prided themselves on knowing their customers' names and always had time for a chat.

Contentious issue

This has been a contentious issue for several years now and a brief search on the net will find numerous pieces about the war between supermarkets and sole traders.

Shopper in supermarket

This got me thinking…. There seems to be so much reminiscing from people who remember their neighbourhood, family, hardware store but very little thought from those of us from younger generations, in our teens and twenties, who have never had the pleasure of such an experience.

As veterans of the superstore, how do we feel about the independents?

Childhood memories

I have vague childhood memories of my grandparents gossiping with the owner of the general store in their sleepy Cornish town but for me, the Tesco hypermarket holds a special place in my heart.

quote I didn't realise there is a difference between a grocer and a greengrocer.quote
Sarah Bickenson

How exciting to run up and down the aisles of the gigantic warehouse, discovering new delights in the confectionery section, choosing the cereal with the coolest models from the latest film.

A visit to the supermarket was never a chore for me; in fact it was the best part of the day.

Unusual ingredients

As I get older I relish in the variety available at Sainsbury's.

Cheese counter in supermarket

I can wow my friends with my culinary skills, producing Thai curries or Moroccan couscous salad. However, should I assume that Asda is the only place I can buy my unusual ingredients?

Apparently not.

Several acquaintances have chastised my ignorance. They advise me of their local greengrocers, who sell everything from star fruit and guava to ladies fingers and Jamaican artichokes; or the fishmongers with seafood galore, of the kind only dreamt of at Somerfield.

How could I have overlooked these extensive offers?

Era of speed

The word that jumps directly to mind is convenience. We live in an era of speed.

We no longer have time to traipse from one end of the high street to the other in search of our weekly shop. Its all about the quick in, quick out, one stop, trolley full, huge car park, supermarket trip.

I'm certain we would all love to be on first name terms with the baker but to be perfectly honest, we haven't got time for more than a "hello" anyway.


As I'm writing, I'm feeling an increasing determination to frequent my nearby independents, whilst they still exist.

I get the impression I have been missing out on a serious part of my country's heritage… or something.

Woman pushing trolley

Mostly, I'm spurred on by the embarrassing discovery that I didn't realise there is a difference between a grocer and a greengrocer (apparently the former sells all kinds of things whilst the latter only fruit and veg).

I think it's about time I started supporting them both.

Article by Sarah Bickenson

This article contains user-generated content (i.e. external contribution) expressing a personal opinion, not the views of BBC Gloucestershire.

Have your say

Your comments:

Toby Phoenix
I think that independants are far superior - they have better quality throughout and your going to have a nicer neighbourhood if you support your local shop!

Ellen S. Newell
I shop at all of them: I like the small ones because of the personal attention to customers, and also to what they have: I like the big ones cause they can carry so many products, but you can't necessarily get in and out faster; and I like the greengrocer very, very much. But being that I am in the older generation, I am used to all of them, and hope that the small grocer never goes away.

I try to always buy meat at the butchers cos its much better quality. I do most of the rest of my shopping at the supermarket tho - its so much easier and there's nowhere to park in town

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