Keeping it Local

I’m going to an Open Mic event today at a coffee shop in Walsall. Please come down if you’re in the area and support them. They’re a fairly new business trying very hard to establish themselves and flourish.

Coffee Comforts are on Twitter (@CoffeeComforts) and Facebook, thebestof and you can see them on Google if you go looking. This decent spread of online coverage is how I found out about their Jubilee events this weekend. Open Mic is just one of them, from 12noon through the afternoon. It’s simple turn-up-and-play music, and decent coffee and food to keep us going. I have even invited some members of the Grey Goose Blues Band down to jam about two o’clock. The joy of Open Mic is there’s no expectation that they will, just an open offer if they fancy it.

I like local businesses which thrive from social interaction and decent service (online or not). It seems very right. I like “local”. I would prefer not to have to commute at all in the morning, but walk to work and walk home. It would be good to shop locally rather than relying on distant cash and carry stores to provide the discounts which we as a family find so useful when stretching the pounds and pence. I want to be in the community I call home for more time than dinner, bed and breakfast.

I know at least one business which is suffering because poor service drove away some of the regulars when new management took over. The firm is on its uppers because it frittered away the customer base it had developed over time. Good business, however, deserves our support. The whole thing is basically self regulating. Our local sweet shop is run by somebody I like. When that got me through the door, the range of products and service kept me coming back. Reputations are made and lost on the regard in which they are held by their customers, and often built on recommendation.

It strikes me that spending our money exclusively on UK based goods and services is no longer possible and hasn’t been for some time. The local coffee shop gets its coffee from bulk importers. The local ironmongers will source materials from all over the world indirectly through their trade suppliers. However, it is possible to keep our end of the supply chain local.

If I keep my business close to home, it looks like I perpetuate a local economy. Tesco understand this, as do Cooperative and McDonalds. It’s far from being a central operating principle, but I see it happening next door to me at our local Tesco Express. Create a network of small local outlets and people are more willing to throw money at you in the long run, because in due course your shop becomes a fixture of the local landscape. I guess this shows a significant flaw in my thinking, but like any community, this isn’t all about thinking, it’s about feeling as well.

So I’m going to head into town later with my keyboard and amp and a few other toys, and play some music for free in a coffee shop. Yes, it’s fun. Yes, it will boost my already substantial ego. But mainly, it feels good to be keeping it local.

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