Is It Just a Matter of Time?

 Dingle has always been a town of independent shops and small retailers. Boutiques and butchers were the norm, with a large helping of pubs, and there was no sign of international chains. This year, however, three companies have moved in – Boyle’s Sports, Lidl, and now Subway.

At the same time, most of the butchers have shut their doors, pubs are struggling, one boutique has closed already this year, and another is following. With the terrible weather of the past summer having a huge impact on tourism combined with the economic downturn and tight credit, it seems all too likely that more of the small shops and restaurants will follow. 

I suppose it’s inevitable that Dingle will become just as homogenous as everywhere else in years to come. Some people are delighted to see the chains coming in (especially the discount ones) since they have been complaining about high prices, but it makes me sad. In the end there will be less character and ultimately less choice. 

Let’s just hope there’s still room for this independent ice cream maker!

9 thoughts on “Is It Just a Matter of Time?

  1. Was just talking about this yesterday, when we opened our first place in ’95 there were no chains but now Limerick is dominated by them, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subways, O’Briens etc. I wish I could say the majority choose local home produced over the mass produced offering but it just doesn’t happen, it seems to be the minority these days. The sad thing is anything new that opens now is a franchise, I’m hoping maybe the recession might bring rents etc down a bit and maybe local people can open small businesses again but I don’t hold out much hope:( Let’s hope Ben & Jerry’s don’t open in Dingle;)

  2. I’m not so sure it’s as bad as you think. The two butchers in Bandon still thrive despite the arrival of both SuperValu and Lidl. The reason being that they focus on quality and not price.

    The perfect example of that was a recent Saturday where I ran into a friend at Lidl who was complementing their organic produce (unfortunately mainly German so lots of food miles) but still gets his meat in the butchers.

    Anyone involved in a commodity business will eventually be killed by bigger companies with better economies of scale. The trick is not to be a commodity. Murphy’s Ice Cream is the perfect example of that.

  3. Interesting – I think most towns are going the way of the larger chains.. and to be honest, as a consumer, I do tend to shop in them myself.
    Its timesaving to have everything in the one shop when you are in a hurry and just want to get home! And more often than not, they can afford to make the prices more competitive.
    On the other hand – I do think that there IS a market for the smaller independent shops. Especially ones that specialise in somthing that you cant get anywhere else – OR a shop that sells a product that you dont just grab off the shelf, but appreciate some individual attention and salesperson’s expertise.
    It will be interesting to see what happens – hopefully those of us who run these “niche” shops will still be here in years to come!

  4. Planning policy allows these chains to open. Many european towns and cities regulate who and what goes where – the powers that be could easily refuse permission to chain stores and retain independent food shops.
    Of course, the funny thing is that it is allowed in the name of ‘competition’ which we are told reduces price and improves choice but only results in this boring sameness everywhere we go! And in many cases your local greengrocer and butcher are cheaper!

  5. I totally agree. Someone was commenting recently how how they wished Lidl or Aldi would come to our nearest small town, Castlecomer. I think it would be a travesty. I much prefer when small towns in particular have their own ‘individual’ shops. It’s incredible how the number of supermarkets are increasing so much in the bigger towns. 6 years ago, Carlow had an Aldi, Superquinn, Tescos and Supervalu now it has 2 Aldis, Lidl, Superquinn, New bigger Tescos, Dunnes and a new and bigger Supervalu is opening.

  6. We try to do our bits and support our local producers. Local markets, local farmers. And to borrow from Eugene, we hate the “boring sameness”. I prefer knowing my butcher’s name, and have a chat with the farmer who grows my vegs and allow me to taste the tomatoes…

  7. I hate the feeling that we’re being overrun by big businesses, I’m all for supporting local … to the extent that I haven’t ‘big chain’ or supermarket shopped for over a month now, all local shops and an organic veg box for us, plus I’m home baking nearly everything I can now.

  8. We are just back from a wonderful time in Ireland – including 3 days in Dingle – wish we could have managed just one more week to take in the Food Festival! For us, there has never been any place like Ireland and no place the equal of Dingle and the Penninsula. This visit, though, we were shocked to see that yellow and white Subway sign. It was so weird to walk past and smell that characteristic, exactly same aroma that drifts out of every Subway we’ve ever passed at home. Not that Subway in itself is “bad”, but it is all about “same” and “same” has never defined Dingle. Here in the US, we have learned the hard way that once big corporate sameness muscles into a community, it is very hard to turn the tide and it is a loss to us all, from the producers to the consumers, when food looks, smells, and tastes the same no matter where you go. Hope the communities of Ireland can stay strong and retain their individuality and personality – especially in these tough times.

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