Not so much #indielove

I’m sitting in what is probably the best coffee shop in Bearwood. It has free wifi. I should be happy. I’m not.

I am not happy, because I have been spoiled. By Brewsmiths, by Yorks Bakery Cafe, by SixEight and by the Urban Coffee Company.

I am in We are Mud, a coffee shop that is also a pottery painting shop. The only people I have ever seen on line here is my friends. They don’t let you use the electric sockets to charge your laptop like all the cafes in Birmingham do. They don’t seem to get get the online community, they have probably never heard of Coffee Birmingham and would not let me hold a Social Media Surgery here without me hiring the space. Which is why the next one will be at Warley Woods cafe.

I have been banging on quite a bit about supporting independent traders in Bearwood, and quite honestly from some of the reactions I have got, you would have thought I had proposed opening up a brothel.

Some of the comments on The Bearwood Page on Facebook are incredibly mean spirited and I will be honest, have upset me. I dared to comment that Poundland has a poor employee engagement record and that they actively contribute to third world wage slavery. I added that a Poundland is preferable to boarded up shops, yet I believe that a pound spent there will never be as valued as a pound spent in a indie, run by a local entrepreneur. A pound spent with one of our lovely independents such as Vangelis, Miss Molly’s Flower Room, Andrew’s Plants or Webbs Walled Garden makes a huge difference to them. The owners of these businesses know their customers names and don’t have to write it on a cup. Yet apparently others do not agree with me, are fed up of hearing about indies and are practically falling over themselves to get to Poundland.

So back to Mud. An indie I’ve tried hard to love. I don’t get pretty pictures on my latte and you cleaned around me and my friends when there was still half an hour till closing time. You don’t tweet your offers or have loyalty scheme. Yet you are local, and I will steadfastly continue to support local indies. And it is lovely to meet with other local people and catch up over coffee or tea.

Birmingham coffee shops will still be first choice for me, with book shelves, music I like and yummy food and baked goods to bring home to my family.

I visit every new shop that opens in Bearwood to welcome them. I photograph them and promote them via social media. I drive business to them. I offer to help them with PR and marketing. I do this for love. Yet the people on The Bearwood Page don’t care. Poundland and a non local B list celebrity seems to be valued higher than hardworking local independent traders trying to make a living.

Bearwood, be careful for what you wish for, a high street full of multiples who put profit before people. Before their customers. If you don’t use your local independent shops, you will lose them. And what will your high street look like then?

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This entry was posted in Community, Food, Life and tagged , , , , , by Travelling Coral. Bookmark the permalink.

About Travelling Coral

I started blogging in 2011 to record some of the highlights of the round the world trip I made with my husband Phil. On the 5 month trip we visited California, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Malaysia and Thailand. We met some fantastic people, saw amazing things and ate some lovely food. Yet while enjoying these new experiences I became acutely aware of the inequality in both first and third world countries. The gap between the rich and the poor on the streets of LA and KL was the same. On my return home, I realised that this inequality existed in the UK. I had to leave the country to see it for what it was. Food banks were opening in every town and city. I read the now famous blog, A Girl Called Jack and got more interested in how food poverty impacts the lives of so many people in my home country. And I got angry. And wanted to do something about it. Now, I work for Smethwick CAN, a charity bringing people together to tackle poverty, increase aspiration, provide opportunity and support the most vulnerable. One of the projects is a foodbank. Food poverty is shocking in any country, yet over a third of edible food still ends up in landfill. No one should go hungry, yet children are going to school without breakfast. Parents are skipping meals to feed their children. Foodbanks are a sticking plaster not a cure for food poverty. So, in addition to working for a charity that is supporting people in crisis, I volunteer for The Real Junk Food Project. They intercept food that would normally be thrown away, and cook it and serve it in a Pay as You Feel Cafe. I am still adjusting to life back at home in Birmingham, England, I have terminal Farsickness. To keep it at bay, I drag my husband and sometimes the son on shorter trips both in the UK and overseas. I now post random stuff that interests me. This includes travel, food and well being. The writing keeps me sane. Long term travelling is my goal.

7 thoughts on “Not so much #indielove

  1. Coral, have enjoyed reading this post and others. Just please remember, for your own sanity, that the minority of people who criticise on FB are a tiny percentage of firstly, the people on Bearwood’s FB page, and secondly, the people of Bearwood. Don’t let their criticism get you down. You approach social media with great enthusiasm and obviously enjoy the positives you get from it. But it’s easy to forget the human behind the FB comment. Face to face you’d probably have more in common with your critics and you’d see their opinions as just that. I’m not condoning any nastiness, but just sharing how I deal with the negativity. I’m obviously in a philosophical mood this evening. When I’m not, I just laugh at the sad f**ckers!

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    • And I remember that not only did I, as you did too, escape and broadened my horizons around the world, which changed my whole outlook on the world, the trolls will still have to live in their narrow world. And I don’t have to. Nor do you. Your Europe trip sounds amazing. And your blogs make me humble.

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