Living in the future

On Saturday morning we went out shopping and to do some chores. All the latter were related to reuse or recycling: glass bottles to be recycled, polystyrene packaging taken to the Post Office to be sent back to the company it originally came from for reuse; and a bag of clothes and box of knick-knacks taken to a charity shop (finally those never-used wine decanters are out of the house).

Local cheese from Simply Caws - mileage specified

Local cheese from Simply Caws at the People’s Market- mileage specified

It appears that, in recent years, shopping has become a form of entertainment and this was certainly the case for us this weekend, although it wasn’t the goods that we purchased that provided the instant gratification, but the people we met. All our purchases were practical: nuts and bolts, ingredients for granola, local cheese, hand made bread… so we weren’t really supporting the consumer society. We are never going to be the people responsible for ‘spending our way out of recession’, but we might spend our way to a robust and sustainable local economy.

The lady who served us in Mulberry Bush admired my string bag. The lady in the Post Office was devastated that her broadband wasn’t working and so she couldn’t open properly, but was happy to take our Freepost parcel as long as we didn’t need a receipt (we didn’t). LAS, our local recycling company, was busy with folks dropping off all sorts of items, and the man at the charity shop welcomed our contributions with a smile.

Loyalty card and vouchers

Loyalty card and vouchers

Our final port of call was the People’s Market, where they were giving out prizes to the winners of a recent treasure hunt run in conjunction with the Lampter loyalty scheme. Lampeter has recently become the first town in Wales to launch a loyalty card, with 59 businesses currently participating. Every time you spend £3 or more in a business, you get a stamp in one of the slots on your card, but you can only get a stamp from each shop twice on the same card. Once you have 10 stamps, you can drop your card in one of the designated boxes around town. At the end of each month the cards are all be entered into a prize draw. The winner receives £30 in vouchers that can be spent at any of the participating businesses. The businesses involved in the scheme ran the treasure hunt as an additional incentive a couple of weeks ago and a friend of ours won one of the prizes. Because we helped her with some of the answers , she shared her prize with us and so, as well as our shopping, we came home with a couple of vouchers. All this is designed to keep money circulating in local businesses and, so far, it seems to be working.

Finally, I was stopped by a friend who wanted to show me a square she had crocheted – I taught her how to make granny squares a while ago and she has finally got the hang of doing it on her own. She was so pleased, she brought her creation shopping with her in the hope she would bump into me to be able to show it off. I was delighted.

And this, I hope, is the future of shopping – a social activity where we support local people and make our communities a richer place… just like we used to do in the past.

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20 Comments

  1. Shopping the way it’s meant to be. Love it 🙂

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  2. The loyalty scheme is an excellent idea for keeping shoppers local and loyal rather than at out of town supermarkets. It works well enough at my coffee shop. I’m sure other areas will take it up once they see how well it’s doing.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx.

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    • It seems to be working really well. They started with about 30 participating businesses, but they nearly have double that now. It’s done through the Chamber of Trade, which most towns have. so could easily be rolled out in towns around the country… I guess it just needs someone with the drive to get it going in each place.
      xxx hugs xxx

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  3. We have lots of individual store loyalty schemes here – and big national ones too but they are used by the big chains ….. small village shops banding together is a wonderful idea and would surely help get the locals back to the local shops instead of the big malls! I love the sound of your Saturday shopping experience – and the fact you can send packaging materials back to the company ❤ ❤ ❤ Now that makes my heart sing!!

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  4. It sounds like shopping used to be, not ‘retail therapy’, not a mad urge to spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need, but a purposeful, directed and social activity, where you know most of the people you encounter by name, and you come home only with things you need or are sure you will use immediately.

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    • I think you have hit the nail on the head – we only bought what we went out to buy and there will be no waste. The only thing we missed out on was a cup of coffee and a sit down, but we needed to get home… good job too as the plumber called not long after to say he could come … I have so missed the shower, but all is well in that department now!

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  5. I love trotting into town on Saturday’s for my fruit, veg, eggs and bread from the market. It’s much more sociable and quite a treat. I also enjoy supporting local shops of all sorts, especially small family businesses. Spot on blog! Moke

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    • I like giving my money to people who I know will keep much of it in the local economy… you just know when you hand over your heard-earned pounds to the likes of Tesco that your money will be winging its way out of the country in no time at all, apart from the tiny wages earned by the staff.

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  6. We went shopping in a nearby town this weekend with a wonderful farmers market where we bought some gorgeous bread to go with my homemade leek and potato soup. We bought veggies in the greengrocers and some craft supplies in an independent craft shop. Whilst buying some card in a newsagents I had a catch up with a friend also shopping who I worked with. All rounded off with a coffee in an independent cafe. Perfect Saturday shopping.

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  7. I love the impromptu chats with the greengrocer’s, fishmongers, post office… This is what makes life… nicer!

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  8. Nothing beats shopping locally. I love supporting our small town’s businesses and really have to talk myself into travelling further afield if we absolutely must. A loyalty program would work well here too, I’m sure. Glad for you that your shower is back on track. xoxoxox

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  9. That’s shopping you can feel really good about! As you say, it’s old-fashioned and sociable and authentically based on what normal people use and need, rather than on spending for the sake of spending.

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  10. A full circle of shopping where all things new are old again 🙂

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