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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Buying Stuff

When I got drowned on the Sunday whilst on Holiday I got water into my mobile.

Monday I realised the thing had decided to pack up so I thought I know I'll buy a cheapo vodafone handset and swap the sim cards. I stopped in Brecon and there were two mobile shops but both Orange. Woolies had nothing. I stopped in Builth Wells and they had an Orange shop!

Mutter mutter.

At the hotel I discovered in Hay you could get, and wait for it .... Orange. Argh!

So on the Tuesday I thought I know where there is, an I apologise for this Dorethea, a Tesco on the outskirts of Hereford. And guess what they had a choice!!! I bought a nice but cheap phone and it came with a voucher for £20 of calls. I swapped over sims and bob was your uncle. Of course the old phoneddecided to work again by the Friday so I stuck the new sim in, registered it, gave it £5 of credit and gave it to my parents (they have one each now!!).

One of the good things (and there aren't that many) of living in the South East is that if I want something I can get my hands on it pretty quickly. Supermarkets like Tesco may restrict choice in terms of the number of shops that are about but if, like in mid Wales, the shops offer you sod all choice what is the point?

Perhaps it's my expectations. I am so used to being able to lay my hands on something as within 35 miles of house there are rather a lot of large towns. And I am ignoring London.

If you ask my friend Jan in Cornwall EVERYTHING seems to entail a trip to Truro. Mid Wales struck me as very Cornwallesque.

I'm pretty certain that a small town like Saffron Walden or Epping would offer a much greater choice than I saw in mid wales.

Its easy to knock Tesco (and the like) but they offer you alot of choice (even if the choice is Tesco). Telling me that Market Risborough (I think there is no such place) has 25 small shops is great assuming that I can get what I want.

Of course a small shop cannot compete on price with a large super market but it at least has to be able to compete on something. Bookshops can specialise on diversity of range (please note that when book 4 of a series comes out some peope may be tempted to buy book 1 thank you). Hifi dealers can concentrate on service. The specialist hifi manufacturers protect there brand and refuse to heavily discount cutting the supermarkets out.

There are of course areas where the Tescoisation of the world is a problem. Yes Tesco will sell you a book cheaply but here their range is lamentably poor. Concentrating as it does or best sellers. As a rule I try to buy through specialist retailers. But here the likes of Amazon are causing problems for bookshops, but there is no thrill in buying from the internet like going into a shop and discovering the latest book by a favourite author.

Sadly many small booksellers are going to the wall. It will be cheaper for my local bookshop to walk 50 yards to Tesco buy 20 copies of Harry Potter and then sell it themselves than buy from the wholesaler.

Of course we all have to decide what price we put on variety. I will lament the lack of choice that Tesco's (sainsbury's, Morrison's etc) offer on books but will still shoot into Horsham at 6am when I am on holiday in July to pick up the final Harry Potter. I suspect in that respect I'm no different.


jan said...

yes truro is the nearest place for anything, and not having the car it has been a nightmare getting anything or any where on public transport, but ha ho you get through these things! and the old boy can now drive again!!! but cornwall has the most wonderful scenery so i am not complaining.

Dorothea said...

Truro's cool - some of my best relatives live there.

Seems like you can't live in Britain now without shopping in T*sc*. I certainly do occasionally, but comfort myself that they don't make any profit out of me because I more or less only buy the BOGOFs or reduced-about-to-be-thrown-away items.

The problem will not be solved by a few people boycotting corporate giants - they've got things pretty much sewn up anyway. The issue can only be resolved politically, like when people overthrew the Soviet Union. But as long as things can be kept feeling benevolent that will not happen of course.

Pete said...

I think society changed in the 80's with the loads of money culture. we overthrew the tyranny of the unions for the tyranny of big business.

FWIW - I too use the BOGOF's and get all my meat from the reduced section. you save a fortune. at xmas they were LITERALLY giving away the ready meals.

Pete said...

FWIW I like small cities, like Truro, Hereford, Salisbury or towns like Sherborne in Dorset.

Dorothea said...

Ready meals?

If they gave them away...I might eat one.

Pete said...

50p for a £4 "Finest" meal wasn't bad.