I was horrified to read this week that Penzance came tenth in a survey looking into Britain’s worst clone towns, and charting the devastating rampage of the chains on this country’s high streets.
I have to admit I was also a little surprised. One of the things that draws a lot of us to this *faraway town (*swap in ‘godforsaken’ on a bad day), and Cornwall in general, is its strong sense of identity – a feeling of foreignness, community and all-round arty eccentricity.
While I’m not declaring myself above supermarket shopping, I am rather partial to a trundle around town (yes I have a shopping trolly and no, I don’t care if I look like a granny), buying my meat and sausages at the butchers, fish from Newlyn, eggs and cold meats from the deli, and all manner of goods by the side of the road. [I am yet to succumb to one of those wooden ducks that are always lined up in lay-bys in Cornwall – do people finally give in once they've lived here long enough?]
But let’s face up to facts: the chains – and really the most dire of chains – are all here. So, to cheer myself up, I’ve made a list of my top ten independent shops in Penzance (I’ve permitted Cornish mini chains!):
1/ Lavenders: eggs, cold meats & pasties
2/ The Deli: best coffee in town
3/ Lenterns: superb sausages and meat
4/ Stevo’s – fish boutique (Wharfside)
5/ Archie Browns – health shop and community hub
6/ Seasalt – organic Cornish clothing, though you have to go easy or you look like everyone else in Cornwall
7/ Steckfensters – second-hand emporium (I blogged about this the other day)
8/ Weigh Your Own Absolutely Anything on Causewayhead – not sure what it’s really called but they are shit-hot weighers
9/ Super Volt – the sort of passion for cables you want from your local electrics shop
10/ Books Plus – books & stationery, plus Cornwall section
There, I feel better now. It’s going to be OK. I mean I even had to miss lots out! Let me know if you agree with the lineup.
The good news is that Newlyn scored very highly in the same study for identity and diversity.