I recently came across a great series of photographs by John Lodei, who spent years travelling around Britian photographing small shops. He’s published the results in a new book called ShuttingUp Shop, about the decline of small shops in the UK. They’re beautiful portraits of a generation of local stores that have largely been forced out of business by the new economy – florists, greengrocers, tailors… It’s a sad book, looking backwards at what’s gone. The only downside of the book is that it makes it look like the decline of the local shop, the dominance of Tescos and Sainsburys and their brand of corner-cutting economics – is inevitable. It’s not. It really doesn’t have to be that way.
Friends of The Earth have just recruited Alexei Sayle to help with their Shop Local campaign:
As the cost of car travel rises, the local shop will start to come back to life. Take away cars and the crushing logic of the supermarket starts to disappear.
Here in Brighton and Hove, where a mixture of good intentions, OK local transport and a massive lack of parking means that people are already making a good attempt to reverse the trend to homogenization. Since the eighties, dozens of local shops that had been closed for a decade or more by the 70s have been reopened in the North Laine. The old wholefood store Infinity Foods that opened over 30 years ago has been so successful that it’s expanding into shops next door to it.
And hey, even here in Hove, Nigel’s Eco Store is doing its bit to keep local storefronts going. Drop by and take a look if you live in the area.