LETTERS: Town shops do not satisfy demand

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IN RESPONSE to Joan Mitchell (Letters, The Galloway Gazette, May 11), I would love to support our local independent shops. I am going to a wedding in seven weeks and I am planning to buy a new suit, shirt and tie for the occasion. To help me support our local independent traders, can you tell me where in Newton Stewart I can buy these items?

I would also appreciate information about where in Newton Stewart a mum can purchase a school uniform for her children or a fashionable dress for herself?

This question has been put to Peter Jeal, the president of Wigtownshire Chamber of Commerce. He will not or cannot back up his critical comments of the local shoppers.

Mr Jeal previously said: “Council candidates seeking to be elected on May 3 should bear this in mind” (Letters, The Galloway Gazette, April 13). Was this some form of threat or abuse of power? I sincerely hope people were not intimidated by this statement and I believe people are more than capable of empathising and listening to other points of view without more dummies being thrown out of the pram.

First, the locals need to shop outside Newton Stewart because of the shortage of essential needs as I have detailed. If these basic needs were being met by the present facilities in Newton Stewart there would be no need or room for any new supermarket here. I think you would find that the locals are only asking for a supermarket that will stock these essential goods which are presently not available. Mrs Mitchell advocates support for the independent shops. Are the present supermarkets independent shops?

I see another cafe/restaurant is opening in Newton Stewart, and best of luck to those behind it. But it could be said that there are more than enough of these businesses without another one opening. Why is there no objection to this? Another cafe will mean fewer customers for the already-established cafes and perhaps the death knell and possible job losses to the ones who might be struggling.

Newton Stewart needs to reinvent itself. With ever expanding online purchasing, the business community needs to look at this haemorrhaging of finances out of our community and stop blaming supermarkets. Supply and demand is the key. If the business community will not supply, they should not demand. It is they who hold the key to the future of our street.

Robert Malcolm

May I, through your columns, thank Joan Mitchell for her response to my original letter.

I know that comparing Newton Stewart with Castle Douglas is not a viable excercise when assessing their worth as host towns for edge-of-town supermarkets. Apparently Tesco in Castle Douglas is not an out-of-town store, and shoppers have got to go into town in order to use it. Strangely enough, I thought that the supermarket in question sat on the very edge of town, well away from King Street and Cotton Street, and only a very short drive from the A75.

Driving from Newton Stewart and going via New Galloway and Crossmichael, you would, indeed, drive through the town to get to Tesco but Iwould have thought that the majority of customers would come in off the A75, as would be the case with an edge-of-town supermarket at Newton Stewart. Surely she’s not being disingenuous.

I also feel that she and also the Wigtownshire Chamber of Commerce are duty bound to furnish your readers of examples of small towns which have been financially ruined by the advent of a nearby supermarket, and which now stand forlorn and forgotten, their businesses all boarded up. It’s all very well peddling a doomsday scenario but it has to be backed up by hard evidence.

As the voice said in the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come.” And it will be to the benefit of the whole town.

Name and address supplied.