We loved this sardonic retort from a local independent bistro in Clapham’s swanky pants Abbeville road district. Written on the Bistro Unions’ blackboard wall are the words ‘Taste the Difference’ placed strategically next door to the building site of a new Sainsbury’s Local.
“Forget them! Come in here and taste the difference! Put down the Sainsbury’s shopping basket and think twice before settling for convenience. Step inside our emporium of food heavenliness where your din dins have at least half a chance of being prepared with time, care, thoughtfulness and an ounce of flaming passion” – said so effortlessly in one easy quip.
Incidentally, I popped into Macfarlane’s deli while I was in the area and asked them about their thoughts on their new neighbour.
Naturally a little perturbed, they worry that faced with the convenience and cost-price that a bigger brand affords, residential customers who would normally drop by for basics like eggs, milk, and butter etc will instead walk ‘zombie-like’ next door.
It’s what we do though isn’t it? Sometimes we don’t even register we’re making a choice where we shop.
Then there’s the price. Macfarlane’s food is lovely, but it’s pricey; but then you get what you pay for. I wonder if on basic staples – what the professionals call ‘pull products’ – small indies in the area will ever be able to match the mighty Sainsbury’s. It’s doubtful. Only today it was published that farmer’s in Leicester held a protest outside Asda to let supermarkets know exactly what they’re doing to their livelihood. Farmers are paid in the region of 24p for a litre of milk, and it costs 30p to produce. It’s not hard to do the maths.
But then as I discussed with a Macfarlane’s staff member, a Sainsbury’s local recently moved into my neck of the woods at the top of Lordship lane. It strangely regenerated the area bringing more people to what is naturally a less busy end of the high street. In that respect, while commuters are stopped in their tracks by the bright orange sign on their way home from work, that’s the chance for the surrounding indie delis, bistros, cafes and bakeries to ensure that THEIR shop-front is well merchandised and attractive. So attractive that the unsuspecting customer is kept drooling past the sanitised neon lighting and straight into the home comfort of your till instead.
So it’s swings and roundabouts. The big bad wolf may not be all that bad for business after-all.