I sometimes get calls from retailers up in arms about fellow traders, usually on the same parade, who they see as cramping their style.
Over the 12 years of this column I have reported on retailers suing retailers, retailers 'shopping' retailers, retailers even bashing retailers (I remember a baseball bat in one instance), and retailers just plain hating their neighbours.
It has always been difficult to report upon, given that both parties could well be readers and that there are always two sides to a story.
Most recently I had a caller who asked to remain anonymous because he is seeking ways to legally prevent his neighbour from branching out by adding some hot food to his offering. "This will crucify me," he says.
I went out to have another look at my own parade. I've lived just 50 yards from this parade for 25 years, so I've seen some changes. The parade runs, on and off, for about 200 yards and is packed with businesses. But, jeepers, does it need two bookies? Does it need two undertakers? (New one due any minute now.) It did try to have two florists, but both failed despite flanking the funeral parlour when it was the only one in town.
The two greengrocers, butcher and fishmonger left long ago, but there are six off licences incorporated into various stores and a selection of nail bars (three) and hairdressers (four) within the same environs, plus five takeaways and a few restaurants. This doesn't quite make it vibrant, just what I would call ever-changing.
And did I mention the
c-stores? I have two sub-POs, three independents, one Londis, one Budgens and one Costcutter. And, oops, I just noticed, another Costcutter about to open, not 75 yards from the other one. Why?
I realise we all need to eat and could probably get by without the flowers, but why can't retailers be a bit more 'spaced' in their site-seeking?