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?