Cosham’s independent traders highlight their value

Richard Reynolds outside Flutes in Cosham High Street
Richard Reynolds outside Flutes in Cosham High Street

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INDEPENDENT retailers in Cosham’s High Street have been getting vocal about what makes them great.

They say they form a key part of the local community and have an appeal that sets them apart from larger chain retailers.

Their comments come ahead of December 7’s Small Business Saturday, a grassroots campaign run by the government designed to raise awareness of some of the hidden retail gems in our communities.

‘It’s the better level of customer service that sets us apart from the big shops,’ said Mark Allen, manager of Fourth Place Games.

‘Where your average supermarket employee won’t have detailed product knowledge, we’re a business run by people who are really passionate about gaming and, as such, can respond to a customer’s needs on a personal level.

‘A local business really is part of the community and, when people decide to support independent businesses, the shop takes on a real social element.’

Penny Boyd, co-owner of Penelope’s Petals, agreed. She said: ‘It’s our creativity and originality that makes us better than big retail chains.’

Alan Dolling, owner of New to You Books, and a 23-year veteran of independent business, said: ‘While big businesses might not be able to offer deals that suit the local environment, we can respond to the community’s needs.

‘If you want good quality second-hand bookshops, it’s important to support local businesses or they will all disappear.’

Richard Reynolds, the owner of Flutes Cafe, stressed independent shops were often better value.

He said: ‘While you might pay £2.50 for a coffee in one of the big chains, you could get it here for a £1.50 and it’s all the same coffee.

‘But, sadly, it seems that people feel that it’s fashionable to buy from a big chain and would rather pay for a brand.’

Alice Fernando, owner of Portsmouth Ink, compared her situation to that in Europe, saying: ‘In Scandinavia, for example, local government monitors the product mix on their high streets to ensure that there’s a good blend of business but there’s nothing like that here.

‘A good variety encourages more people to shop and fosters community spirit.’