80 pence of every pound you spend locally, stays local.
It’s that simple really.
Totnes is a small, working town. We’re lucky – our high street, the beauty of the place and proximity to the River Dart means we have a steady stream of tourists visiting (and spending) in our town. And, that’s why chains, including Costa, are targeting Totnes.
But, the high street is only part of the story. In addition to our 42 independent cafes, you will find local signwriters, mechanics, joiners and engineering companies, printers, electricians, accountancy services, insurers, dentists, solicitors in addition to a wide variety of independent shops. These people and their businesses use each others’ services and, together, create Totnes’ economy . An economy that’s traditional, as it used to be in many cases, based on trust, mutual benefit and, in many cases, friendship. Most importantly, however, it means people understand the importance of keeping it local.
Unlike our small traders, Costa Coffee have a centralised distribution centre producing and distributing their food products from Northamptonshire. They will have block contracts with cleaning and maintenance companies. So, while Costa would like to trumpet local jobs and contributions to our community, the only individuals who will truly benefit from their undeniably impressive growth are Whitbread shareholders of whom Costa is a wholly owned subsidiary.
The arrival of chains on a high street means change. It means change for local traders who do not have the buying power to compete with Costa, it means change as landlords (some absentee) decide they’ll only lease to chains, it means rents go up, pricing independents out, it means tourists who come here because of our diversity may go elsewhere and it means money that would have been spent locally leaves the community and our economy.
Many of us see the cities, towns and villages across the country where high streets have been killed off by a ‘superstore’ at the edge of town. These are many of the same towns who now need Portas Pilots…
Totnes doesn’t, as yet… And, so while the Guardian headline may be a grabber, this is not about ‘declaring war on global capitalism’, this is the story of a small town, with an engaged and active community, town council, Mayor and MP -- all of whom say no to Costa and make a pledge to vote with our wallets.
David Cameron knows the town of the future is one where towns are economically and socially resilient and so do the people of Totnes and our local leaders.
We ask Costa, once again, is Totnes worth it?