Supporting local businesses in Deal, Kent

Most of my Christmas presents have been bought online this year. However, while staring at the screen I thought: I really should do more to support my local town centre shops. Why that thought should have popped into my head I have no idea but it seemed a good one.

I have a number of health issues that cause me problems, especially when going out. The worst of them is Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease. It used to be called Rheumatoid Arthritis but the name has changed recently. My hands are turning outwards, fingers are bent and even with medication they are painful so a trip into town isn’t a decision made lightly. But, I thought, yes, it is important to support local businesses so off I went.

I have a little car with a few adaptations which make driving easy, so that is no problem. I’d be housebound without the support of Motability, mind. Finding a parking space is usually not a problem as Dover District Council has provided disabled parking bays. I must admit to being somewhat peeved when I see people park in disabled bays then jump out of their cars and hurry into the town. I would love to be able to hurry but, well, that’s life, isn’t it?

Anyway, I hobbled my slow way into the town centre. One of the presents I needed was a pair of quality jeans promised to a relative. I made my way to Marks and Spencers but the jeans were in such a muddle it was too painful to lift them to see the sizes clearly. All the staff were busy so I gave up and left the store. There used to be a menswear shop in the town, John’s Menswear, where staff were always pleased to help but that has gone now, like so many of the little shops.

I also needed some women’s toiletries so I made my way into Superdrug. Searching the rows of toiletries and so-called perfumes, I was approached by a member of staff who asked: ‘Do you need any help?’ I declined, saying that I was just looking, thanks. She then hung around and I felt as if I was being watched in case I stole something. Maybe she felt she was there for me if I did need help but that wasn’t the impression I got. Mind you, I hadn’t been completely honest. My thoughts when she asked if she could help went something along the lines of: I could get far better products online paying not much more than the rubbish you have available here.

So, another failure. Next I called at a small, local shop. I didn’t notice the name. I found what I wanted and as I went to pay tried engaging the member of staff in polite conversation. The disinterest was as apparent as the mobile phone she had been speaking into before I went to the till. I shall not be going there again.

What a contrast I found when I went into a small shop called Lynda’s. Many years ago it was called Lynda’s Drug Store and I still know it by that name. The staff were polite and helpful and chatted away in a very friendly manner. They quickly found what I wanted. It’s a great pleasure to do business in a shop like that.

Next I called into Poundland, a truly horrifying experience. The queue was long and there were no seats. After an interminable length of time, I gave up, put the product back on its shelf and left without buying anything.

By this time I was exhausted, cold, in pain and felt thoroughly deflated. Only my visit to Lynda’s gave me any hope, but not enough. I shall not be returning to Deal town centre in the near future and definitely not for shopping. Why should I when I can get everything I need from the comfort of home, the majority of products arriving within a day or two at the most. Local town centres? You can keep them.

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