I've done my last Amazon shop — it's time to back local traders on our high streets

We whinge about local shops closing, but don't support them

Robert Mulhern


Robert Mulhern



I've done my last Amazon shop — it's time to back local traders on our high streets

I made a commitment this week that I’m never buying anything from the online retailer Amazon again.

For a week or two there’s been numerous deliveries of flat-packed cardboard boxes containing stuff I reckoned I hadn’t the time to go up the street to find.

It’s household stuff mainly, and there are a few shops up the hill in Crystal Palace that sell household stuff and without the same environmental packaging footprint that cracks glaciers the size of countries off continents.

But I guess I can live with a bit of environmental destruction if it saves me some time in the day, and a few pence for my next coffee.

I’m not alone in this habit. There are three other apartments in the building, and most days there’s some exhibit of online shopping boxed up in the hallway.

Of course, we often bump into each other, smile and say what a nice place Crystal Palace is to live.

We celebrate the lovely cafes and restaurants up the road and a good few shops... that none of us ever use!

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You’d struggle to buy a pair of jeans in this postcode and I’ve complained about that more than once. The same goes for sportswear.

A purchase of either demands I make a journey into the city. But pre the phenomenon of online shopping, you could get items like that up the hill.

And with this trend set to continue, the day is fast coming when the only retailers left up that hill will be the ones providing services you can’t get through mega online retailers.

When this happens, we’ll meet in the hallway and lament the loss of the limited retail choice we once had before leaning down to collect our latest delivery of online shopping.

We’ll opine the erosion of the High Street without copping the irony that the reason they’re gone is that we didn’t bother our arse to support them — and by extension preserve the personality of the place.

The same goes for Naas.

I read with disappointment  that Alo Donegan’s electrical shop is closing after decades trading on the Newbridge Road.

News of this shop’s closure was the most read item on the Leinster Leader’s website at one point last week.

This means that a significant number of locals give a s**t and some directed their anger at Naas Town Council over the rates business people have to pay.

Dead right too. Local independent businesses are the lifeblood of any community, London postcode or Naas byroad.

But the thought did cross my mind as to how many of those same people have actually bought their electrical goods in Alo Donegan’s?

Or did they go to Dublin to get their TV and stereo? Or swipe it on the credit card as part of a job-lot for a refurb on the old house or to kit-out the new house?

Donegan’s has been a constant on the Naas retail landscape forever, only I haven’t bought anything in Donegan’s for as long as I can remember.

Anything I’ve bought has been in London.

But knowing my habits, I’d probably opt for swinging into a retail park somewhere close to Naas in the belief that I’d have more choice and cheaper choice.

And from reading the online comments, the thing people say they’ll miss the most about Donegan’s is the service.

The kind of personal relationship between seller and buyer that’s leaves both sides feeling valued. Basically someone giving a s**t about your custom, and if something does go wrong, you know it will be fixed.

In this new retail landscape, when something goes wrong for me, I repackage carefully, post back expensively and wait a couple of weeks while some whizz kid, far too talented to be earning less than a dollar a day, fixes it up so it can be sent back out with a stamp of hope.

At the end of the day, rates on business are a part of the problem because costs have to be passed on.

But possibly a more significant part is our attitudes as consumers.

If community and our community shops are as important to us as we like to think, and they represent something deeper than just a straight purchase, then we need to make a commitment to spending our money in them, and accepting that we may sometimes have to pay a bit more.

Of course you can always choose the alternative, and buy on price alone.

But if you do, don’t take to social media to complain when another shop bites the dust!

Personally speaking I’ve been doing that for way too long.

Robert Mulhern is a London based journalist contracted to RTE's The Documentary on One, and writes the weekly 'Letter From London' column in the Leinster Leader. To contact our columnist, email mulhernrobert@hotmail.com