Big Fish, Small Fried Town

Yes, that’s right. Big fish, small fried town not big fried fish, small town. This week, I visited the beautiful city of Bristol where small shops line the clean streets and although the cobbled pavements did not agree with my stilettos, they created the image of Old England on a picture postcard. As mum and I walked along the famous Christmas Steps and peered into the pretty, creative shops, I began to reflect on my own town in Essex.

We entered a vintage-style shop shelves with hand-made art, delicate teapots with cup and saucer, and other small yet significant and appreciative objects. As we paid for some rose-patterned, ceramic salt and pepper shakers, we gave praise to the woman serving us for having such a wonderful shop. She asked us whether our town in Essex had similar shops to which I replied “unfortunately not because the local, big Tesco has taken over”. And that is the meaning of my title. The town in which I live in Essex has been fried and burnt by a big fish named Tesco.

As a result, we no longer pop to our local town shops as the Tesco is so large, overpowering and with competitive prices that it is convenient to shop there. Not only that, our local council have made our town a one-way system that passes through Tesco and is more difficult to get to the local shops. The big fish Tesco has burned businesses, community spirit and now provide everything you could possibly need with their other services such as pharmacy and opticians.

My best friend and I were discussing what kind of shop we would open in our town and we both decided on ‘Cupcakes and Coffee’ – a place where the locals would come and read the newspaper or a book, and chat to the other locals, over a nice cup of tea. But with the lack of a community, the local Tesco serving Costa, and everyone in a rush to get out of the dead town via the station and head off into London, it is not that there isn’t a demand for a coffee shop because we don’t have one here, but that there isn’t a demand for stopping and talking to our neighbours anymore. Although I can’t blame Tesco for the fact that society has become closed off from each other, but it has a contributing factor.

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Some shops located at Bristol’s Christmas Steps donate the money they make to the funding of Arts projects in the local community. As a Master of Arts, I would love to see shops dedicated to those small, handmade items, money being put into encouraging the Arts sector, and community spirit back. Buying from a big fish such as Tesco is also buying into consumerism and not appreciating the hard work that goes into making things. When I was visiting the shops in Bristol, I had a sudden urge to create and make things! It made me appreciate the delicate items and think about my own creativity which cannot be experienced in a store such as Tesco.

I want to see local shops doing well again and investing in providing services that make us appreciate the objects we buy. I want the individuals to become a community again.  And I want to revive the spirit of Old England.

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