Local Competition

I just wanted to compile the thought I had this morning when grabbing a coffee in my town, that I tweeted but felt it could do with a more permanent home. It was about local competition in small towns and services… and I take a contrary view.

I live in Faversham, a small town of just under 20K people in North Kent. A quaint, nice little town with lots of character. The local council guard that local atmosphere greatly, worried about the ingress of brands that they fear would supplant local firms and service providers.

This is a great view to have, however…

Faversham has a lot of Coffee shops and one brand that the council has defended against for a long time is Costa Coffee. There is one, at the Tesco store, but they keep trying to open one right in the centre of town. They have always been rebuffed. Here is a thought… many of the coffee shops should be worried. They need to compete. You cannot hold the waters back forever. It will come and that would be good in a major way.

The local stores would not compete today – I am out and about and went to look for a coffee. Apart from one (the Swan), they are all closed as the time I was looking was before 9am (a not unreasonable time to look for a coffee in my view). The Costa Coffee at the Tesco store was open.

They got my business. The local stores did not. Simple competition held off for whatever reason does not end up benefitting people.

What happened to the store where Costa wanted to setup? It is short let to a charity shop in a town with too many charity shops. The town needs more retailers and services that serve people, not protective interests. An unpopular view. Get out and compete and you will not have to worry. This is not a big money issue. That is a false view. This is a service issue – people pick coffee shops not because of great coffee, they pick them because they are open, they are clean, they have nice atmospheres. The local stores pretty much failed at the first step. I want to buy local, but more importantly I want to buy. If there is nothing available for what I want locally that does not serve me. Competition makes that available.