Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Will Kentish Trader be replaced by Tesco ?

Kentish Trader is committed to opposing giant supermarkets and promoting local producers and authentic independant business. Ironically, it has been proposed that the heart of our efforts at the successful new South Quay Market in Whitstable Harbour, will be replaced by a supermarket.

Canterbury City Council and the Whitstable Harbour Board have asked three developers to submit schemes for the redevelopment of all, or parts, of the South Quay. Their aim is to develop Whitstable Harbour as a "thriving and successful port for the benefit of stakeholders and the local community".

The developers are Allied Land plc, Olympian Homes Ltd and Shepherd Neame Ltd. One of the proposals actually sites a large rectangular concrete supermarket on the quayside and arguably, only the Shepherd Neame proposal seems to indicate that the developers have ever visited the harbour. The other two proposals might be better suited to Dubai or for a new resort for a dictator in South America.

Many people visit Whitstable Harbour and the South Quay Market because there are very few places left in England that are quirky, authentic and genuine. The fishing boats are real, the products are local from real people and the fish market smells of fish.

While we have no objection to re-development and improvement of the harbour, please don't let it become another ubiquitous retail zone with flats occupied by lost souls monitoring the price of their property investment.

In our view, this would not only be a tragic betrayal of a proud marine heritage but it would be commercially inept.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Real People Real Products

One of the nice things about buying local, is the relationship you build with the people behind the product and their passion for what they do. Our Kentish traders at South Quay are all passionate about local trade and local products. Here is a nice picture of them all looking suitably passionate after a week of trading at the Whitstable Oyster Festival. Admittedly, their passion has been slightly enhanced by some Kentish cider from Upper Mystole Park Farm. From left to right: Malcolm J Holland, Whitstable Garden Company, Godmersham Game, Printerior Design, Karen Mansfield Originals, Ian Rendall Artist, Tim Slatter Etchings and Core Farm Pressed Juice.

Thursday, 2 August 2007


We sell these T-shirts at South Quay Market with the slogan ME NO GO TESCO.

Big supermarkets like Tesco drive prices down from local suppliers in order to maximise profits for their shareholders. They would'nt be doing their job properly if they did anything else. If it is cheaper to import a strawberry from the USA that's where it comes from, even if a superior local product is growing a few miles away. Mass purchasing from large scale suppliers also means simpler and more cost effective logistics and distribution. It also means more lorries, more aeroplanes and more cars but that is someone else's problem.

Their so called "carbon-footprint" can always be offset by spending a few million on carbon offsetting somehwere else in the world and keeping the supermarkets "green".

The same product in the same shape sold in all UK stores makes life simple and cost effective for the big supermarkets and cheap for the consumer. With massive market share they can extend their product range to price independant suppliers and shops out of the market. This is exacerbated when local government need town centre parking charges as a major source of revenue, meaning it is much more tempting to park for free at the out of town supermarket.

The first potential problem is that we the consumer can lose all control of what we buy and who produces it. There is no link anymore between what we buy and the community we live in. Eventually, everyone lives in Tesco Land. We just turn up and buy stuff in plastic packaging beause it conforms to a standard size and because it is very convenient. Then we moan because the community we live in is snarled up with traffic and the farms are replaced with fast food drive-ins and out of town shopping malls. Our kids are obese and our high street full of charity shops and estate agents. (At least until Tesco go into these markets too)

But there is a small risk for the supermarket giants. Am I the only consumer who finds large supermarkets dreary, boring and impersonal? No passion for the products sold, no interaction with staff, no style, no character.. Am I the only one who resents that a local dairy farmer or bakery has gone under becuase they could not sustain their business based on supermarket terms and conditions?

What if local produce and local goods were not confined to the local Farmers Market which opens the third Tuesday in the month, so the middle classes can make a gesture of support for local producers? What if local producers, combined forces with local designers, artists and independant businesses? What if these retail hot spots were funky, entertaining and commercially well managed? What if they also had an on-line element, so consumers could still buy when it was raining or when they were not able to make a personal visit.

The ambition of Kentish Trader is that one day when the Financial Director of Tescos reports to the main board, he will have to show one small national blip in retails sales growth.

"I'm sorry JD" he might say, " we have acheived all our growth targets across the UK but for some reason sales are down 1.3% in Kent".

Would'nt that be something?

Why Buy Local?

In 2005, Britons spent almost £30 billion on locally sourced and ethical products and for the first time ever, more was spent on ethical products then on beer and cigarettes.

Before we get too carried away, ethical purchases only represent about 5% of the average UK shopping basket. Further more, 20% of all our local independent shops closed between 2000 and 2004 and a recent MP’s report predicts local retailing could die out completely by 2015. The big international supermarket and retail giants get bigger and more powerful every day.

Local businesses offering authentic high quality goods and services must market themselves professionally, if they are to be more than an ethical gesture for those who can afford a conscience.
At Kentish Trader, we wondered what would happen if local products from real people were available to mainstream consumers in an easy and attractive way?

Kentish Trader offers you the chance to make a statement with every purchase you make, so don’t wait for an election to choose the type of community and environment you want to live in.

South Quay Market

South Quay Market, in Whitstable Harbour on the Kent coast opened on 5th May 2007, with the ambition of becoming a vibrant destination for Kentish produce, art, design and trade. We wanted it to be an authentic alternative to dreary out of town shopping centres, all offering the same range of low quality imported goods from the same factory in Asia.

Why buy American strawberries when the finest fruit in the world is grown up the road in the heart of the Garden of England?

Why buy a mass-produced boring print from a supermarket when you could buy an original painting from a local artist?

Why buy an imported table or item of furnitiure when you could have a unique piece made by a local craftsman from locally sourced timber?

Real products from real people at South Quay..