OUT IN THE FIELD: Love your independents while you can

I loved this photo of Chris Islip's funeral this week as the horse-drawn hearse passed by Sussex Cars

I loved this photo of Chris Islip's funeral this week as the horse-drawn hearse passed by Sussex Cars

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Eastbourne is set to have one less independent shop come next week as the Secret Garden in Terminus Road is closing its doors. As happy as I am to have a rant about how people should support independent traders and use them for business, I was contacted by the SG’s owner Caroline Tradewell at the weekend who asked if she could share a few words. So, over to Caroline: “The reactions we’ve had since announcing our shop is closing have made me believe many people have the wrong idea about independent stores. Among the many kind well-wishers, there have been dozens of complaints around the fact we won’t be here for them any more, countless eye rolls/tuts/huffs and quite a few snide comments- such as that we are ‘anti pensioner’ for continuing online when they don’t own a computer and even in the case of a particularly bitter lady last week, that what we are doing is ‘disgusting’. So, I’m going to answer this negativity in defence of the quality independents still trading on our high street. The thing is, independent stores are not a public service, they are a gift. They are there purely because some brave individual had the creativity, finances, and frankly, balls, to put everything on the line, and turn the vision in their head into reality. They are not obligated to be there, it is a choice they make, every day, month and year, to turn up and offer their vision and passion to the public. They try to make not only a living from it, but also to enjoy it, and balance this with the rest of life which of course, the business is there to support.

For us, the balance shifted. We are fortunate parts of the business not dependent on the store have grown and we can continue trading – just in a different way. Running an independent is a huge commitment, one that incurs many compromises, and on the balance of everything, those compromises began to outweigh the benefits. I’m proud to have made the decision that is in the best interests of my family, myself and my business, and I believe this is far from ‘disgusting’. So please, lets not take our independents for granted. If we want to keep our high streets diverse and vibrant, we need to get out there, find the local independent stores we love, and really LOVE them. Visit them, make friends with the owners, turn up to an event or two, buy their goods, share their posts, just pop in to say hi. Appreciate their gift while its here. Because sooner or later without your support, the balance might shift like it has for us, and they too will be gone.” There you have it, love your independent shops while you can.

If you’re out and about on the seafront, aside from the lovely new coloured beach huts do check out the new heritage trail boards east of the pier. If you love Eastbourne’s history and nostalgia, it’s fascinating stuff, paid for from the government’s £2 million cash injection after the pier fire.

Finally, this week, a very happy 60th birthday to the lovely Hampden Park born and bred Billy Reed.

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