Down with Black Friday, up with Frost Fayre!
Black Friday, yet another clarion call to spend, spend, spend from Big Commerce, is not to every retailer’s taste. St Leonard’s Central proprietor Clive Gross has become so incensed by the damaging effect of the hype around Black Friday that today he is running a special ‘No Discount Day’ at the shop instead. And if you want to support local producers and retailers in St Leonards, in addition to Clive, don’t forget to attend the Frost Fayre in Kings Road tomorrow. Nick Terdre reports.
Clive opened St Leonards Central in Marine Court last year as a showcase for local designers, makers and publishers as well as some of his own design work and photography. “Events like Black Friday may look great for the consumer,” he says, “But in reality they just further undermine independent local businesses who are trying to trade sustainably and support other local suppliers, makers and artists.
“They help to drain the life-blood from local shopping centres and the money out of local economies, making challenging economic conditions that much harder for everyone else.”
To mark the occasion St Leonards Central is displaying posters highlighting five things that make it – and other local independent businesses – different and important to the regeneration of our local economy.
“Under the heading ‘Why there will be no “Black Friday” at St Leonards Central’ these are:
1) we are a UK-based business who pay proper taxes on our profits (if we are lucky enough to make any) and do not operate via complex tax avoidance and off-shore structures;
2) we pay our team at a rate of pay above the Living Wage Foundation recommended level (and not the scam ‘National Living Wage’ announced by George Osborne);
3) we pay the artists whose stock we sell a proper price for their work and do not try to squeeze them down to an unsustainable or insulting percentage;
4) we pay our (mainly local and all UK-based) suppliers on time and in full each month;
5) we do not suck in cheap imports that undermine the UK manufacturing economy or exploit workers in other countries.
“Things are cheap for a reason,” he adds. “Usually because someone somewhere in the world is paying for it by working for poor wages in unsafe conditions that working people in this country rightly would not accept, or because of production methods that harm the environment. If people want decently paid jobs for themselves here and for other working people abroad, they have to change the way they spend their money – not just for one day in the year but week in and week out.”
Clive’s message did not fall on deaf ears in the media. As well as capturing HOT’s attention, he was called early this morning by the BBC Radio Sussex breakfast show and later by The Argus newspaper.
St Leonards already has its answer to Black Friday – Frost Fayre, at which local producers and retailers offer their wares in a lively street market in Kings road – and hopefully no one will begrudge them being paid a fair price for their products. This is the Christmas edition of the monthly market organised by Central St Leonards Town Team, with a special offer of Christmas decorations, gifts and other paraphernalia linked to the mid winter festival, as well as the usual food stalls, drinks, crafts, household and other items.
Frost Fayre gets under way at 10am. In the afternoon at 2.30pm there will be the traditional Frost Parade, featuring Jack Frost, the Snow Queen and a horse-drawn carriage, which will process down London Road from Christchurch and around Warrior Square. The day will culminate with the ceremonial switching on of the Christmas lights – won by the Town Team at a competition in Blackpool – at 5pm, or possibly 4pm because of forecast strong winds (check with Anton Burton Smith, the market manager, on 07927 568 319).
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