Not the Same

There's a horrible trend here lately - and I'm sure it's the same many other countries have seen. "Good idea" shops are slowly but surely turning into chain-stores.

Take Fruit & Veg City for instance. It was always a famer's market type place, with produce from the local farms as well as other parts of the country. Our branch had amazing olives at a very good price from a farm in Darling. Honey from a local producer.

But then things started to change. First they took out a section of veg and put in shelves with the kind of dry goods you'd get anywhere else.

Now they've "renovated". The entire shop is an "emporium" of food, from sushi to a coffee shop, a pizza bar and yes, those shelves of dry goods. There are still fruit and veggies, but the Darling olives are gone along with a few other items I loved to buy there, and couldn't get anywhere else. On a weekend you run the risk of being trampled by snooty posh folk in their hordes, peering down their noses at the prime meat, the pre-cut veg, the bakery specialities and the deli foods. No more farmer's market atmosphere. They won't even let you come in the wrong door by mistake - they have a security guard "bouncer"!

The latest to suffer is Cash Crusaders. Always a good place to dump your second-hand goods when you were tight on moola (and many a morning I did just that to be able to throw enough fuel in the tank to get me to work...), they've recently started to sell more and more new items bought in bulk from destinations afar. They've done so sufficiently to advertise specials on these things on TV - which they wouldn't be able to do if they were purely a second-hand goods store.

They've gotten fussy too. The franchise has new uniforms, new employees, and a new attitude. Now suddenly your second-hand goods are not good enough. They're picky and choosey about what they take, they seem to not really want your business on the selling end at all - just go in the "buy" door and give them your money, not your goods.

Which leaves me with only Gumtree (and the Virgin Earth work-in-progress shop) to sell things on - and that's not easy at best. You have to hope someone will spot something you have that they might like, and then actually buy the thing. This week I "sold" something, but when I phoned a day later to arrange to meet up as agreed, was told "I've decided to go in a different direction, go away". Last week I was told that someone would take two of the items - and then never heard from them again.

Nice. Not.

Oh, of course there's eBay, but it's not very functional in South Africa and postage to the rest of the world eats into any money you'd hoped to make - provided you can get a PayPal account to trade with.

Right, I've gotten off subject.

The point is this. More and more shops are being taken over by retail giants and outsiders. They're becoming homogenized instead of unique. The main street is packed with shop after shop of Chinese imports of very low quality, while unique locals who used to have those spaces simply give up and go away.

Sometimes progress sucks.