Last week I wrote about the St James Street end of Walthamstow Market, I had been getting angry about its lack of popularity and shrinking number of stalls. Shortly after posting my blog I was tweeted by a chap who lives in Canada telling me that we were really lucky to have access to a local market.
His comment and my guilt over my lack of support for the Saturday at St James Street project got me thinking about my own retail habits. This in its self was a surprise, I hate shopping and usually try to avoid it at all costs. Sainsburys in particular is my idea of total hell, a windowless cavern of doom designed to remove a small piece of my soul every time I visit. Sadly though Supermarkets are an unavoidable part of everyday life, at least I think they are.
A few days ago I told my partner that I had a great idea, he looked at me with a certain amount of fear in his eyes, my great ideas don’t always work out so well. But after some discussion and a couple of glasses of wine he agreed to give my idea a go and the E17 shopping challenge was born. The rules are simple, for one month all shopping will be purchased at local independent shops and stalls, no supermarkets and no cheating.
Whilst the rule is simple I suspect the challenge will not be, time will be a factor as will cost, I’m sure small retailers wont be able to beat the special offers that supermarkets give us. Planning will also be required, having a Sainsburys, Asda and what seems like 1 million Tesco stores in Walthamstow makes a bit of last-minute shopping on the way home from work easy. Smaller shops and stalls will likely be closed by the time we get back home.
Articles and TV reports pop up on a regular basis telling us that high streets are being killed off by the big brand supermarkets, the convenience of having everything under one roof taking much-needed customers from local traders. By shopping local for the month of November I want to find out if the high street still fits in to a modern busy life, will the benefits of using local stores out way the disadvantages of not visiting the supermarkets. I have no idea how it will work for us or how practical it will be, but we are going to give it a go.
On our travels through the shops of the Stow I am going to document the independent stores and retailers that I come across. Create a record by type of shop or product/produce they sell. Butchers, Bakers and Candlestick makers, well perhaps not Candlestick makers but you get the idea. A list of local suppliers that might be useful if you ever fancy buying your carrots, cakes or T-shirts from somewhere different.
This might be a disaster, and I will likely get grumpy when I have to go out trudging the street looking for something that I could just pop to Asda for. But I’m looking forward to finding out what else Walthamstow has to offer.