There’s a term that is often bandied around in Thanet these days - "shop local".
It sometimes appears with a hashtag: #shoplocal. It is all over the various local Facebook groups and Twitter feeds, proudly displayed by those who brandish it as a banner of their local loyalty, and rightly so.
Within me there is a defiant punk streak, something that rallies against the establishment of corporate chains and mass production. It is the part of me that loathes franchises and international brands, and embraces the shop local ethos.
For example, if I am in Margate and fancy a decent coffee, I choose my destination carefully. I will walk past McDonalds whilst wondering why anyone would go there for a coffee, even if what they serve is better than Starbucks. I will avoid Costa, and instead walk down to Proper Coffee House. There are two reasons for this: firstly, I don’t want to support a global corporation that already has pushed local traders out of business and insists on setting up shop on every possible high street; and secondly, because Proper Coffee House do better coffee.
Similarly, if I am in Broadstairs of an evening and want a beverage of the alcoholic variety, I will frequent one of the many independent pubs that appear there. The beer is better, the service is better, the atmosphere is better, everything is better.
This column is now in danger of becoming a rant, so for some perspective I will consider the downside of shopping locally.
It is so easy to drop into a supermarket and pick up all the food you could want for a month, and I have to be honest and say that I do this. The cost of purchasing all those items from local shops, plus the inconvenience, means that supermarkets have the upper hand. It is a shame. I don't buy vegetables from the supermarket, though.
A few years ago I joined a veg box scheme, which basically means I pay a monthly subscription and then every Thursday go and collect a bag of fresh vegetables. Not only are the vegetables organic, and usually still covered in soil as they have just been picked, but I also have an excuse to visit one of my favourite independent pubs to pick up the bag each week.
Ultimately I believe in and fully support shop local, and I think it is an excellent idea, in principle. Reality, however, can sometimes be a little more complicated.