It Asda Be Independent Traders

Asda's latest TV campaign shows a lollypop lady struggling with the idea of a four-shop shopping trip.

Asda’s latest TV campaign shows a lollypop lady struggling with the idea of a four-shop shopping trip.


Asda
‘s latest TV campaign shows a lollypop lady (lollypop lady = salt of the earth) struggling to work out the itinerary for the ‘nighmare’ expedition that is a trip round her local shops (she plans, somewhat improbably, to visit the market for veg; go ‘down the road for those two-for-ones’; stop at the superstore for dog food then finish up at the fishmonger’s).  In the end a modern-day knight in a white Asda van appears and delivers all her shopping for 10% cheaper guaranteed which puts her mind at rest and enables her to get on with helping children cross the road. No need to leave her house for any reason but work now that Asda have come to the rescue!  Keen fact-checkers can watch the advert here.

It’s a clear attack on local shops, portraying them as more expensive and awkward to get to.  Asda’s claims are unlikely to be challenged very often.  Having placed your shopping order online in order to save time and energy (and the sheer brainpower involved in organising a trip to four different shops!), you are unlikely to make a special trip to check whether Asda’s 10% cheaper claim is correct.  And how would you prove that it was cheaper on the 13th of June for a pound of peaches on Urmston Market?

In any case, the devil is in the detail: the disclaimer at the bottom of the screen makes it clear that the minimum spend is £25 (so a shopping list consisting largely of haddock, dog food and vegetables is unlikely to be suited to the Asda online shopping facility), that delivery charges apply and that the 10% cheaper claim relates to Morrisons, Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s – not the market or the fishmonger or any other independent trader.  How would you claim your money back anyway?  You would more than likely lose all the time you’d saved and you wouldn’t have had the benefit of fresh air, gentle exercise and the knowledge that you are building a stronger community by supporting independent traders.

For those who want to support independent traders, but need to order online, there is a new website called We Deliver Local, that allows you to order from local shops and arrange delivery.  The Cheshire-based service isn’t available in Urmston – yet – but you can follow them on Twitter and wait for updates.

You can support Urmston independent traders by using their services and shops, spreading the word about this website and encouraging others to do the same.

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Independent Urmston: a Recent History Lesson

Cowering in the long shadow cast by the mighty Intu Trafford Centre, Urmston is a small town besieged by big business and internationally franchised companies.  The past fifteen years have been grim for many independent businesses in Urmston: increasingly hemmed in by supermarkets and giant shopping malls and squeezed by the rapid expansion of the online retail sector and the country’s economic freefall, many have gone to the wall or simply given up.

Lots of independent traders have been forced to close.

Lots of independent traders have been forced to close.

In the last year alone we’ve lost an old fashioned sweet shop, the beautiful gift emporium that was Lily’s Boutique and more than one restaurant or bar.

More than ten years ago, consultation began to decide what was to be done about Urmston‘s ageing concrete precinct which was struggling to cope with the consumer rush towards swish new developments such as the Intu Trafford Centre and the giant Asda in Trafford Park.  At that time the precinct had a small Somerfield supermarket and lots of independent traders such as the stationers Urmstat, jewellers and clothing boutiques, mixed with a couple of chains such as the More Store, Farm Foods and, round the corner, Poundstretcher and What Everyone Wants.

Asked to choose from a range of options, the public voted for Ask Developments to forge ahead with their Eden Square development in the heart of Urmston.  A mix of big high street names (remember the mock up photos of the development, featuring ‘Top Stop’?) and independent trading outlets was expected but just as work began, in April 2008, the world economic crisis rained fiscal devastation on Ask’s plans and the project was delayed and extended time and again.

With Urmston’s town centre car parks out of use to make way for the demolition and redevelopment of the precinct, independent traders on the market and elsewhere (Crofts Bank Road, Flixton Road,Station Road and others) struggled to stay open.  The market has never really recovered from this period of near- inactivity and today many of its stalls stand empty.  Tough times.

Finally, in 2009, the first phase of the development saw the opening of a larger-than-expected Sainsbury’s supermarket, a new public library, shopper’s car park and Boots.  Sainsbury’s took the controversial decision to open a cafe and to sell clothing, striking somewhat of a blow against small independents such as Lily’s coffee lounge and the Clothing Station (now closed).

Flixton Road was particularly affected by the extended redevelopment of Urmston town centre: having struggled through the long years of massively reduced car parking, many traders were dismayed when the new development and car parking arrangements drove people towards Eden Square and away from their businesses.  To take just one example, since King Spot moved out, Firedragon Crafts, Okid Oki and Halle May’s boutique have all rented then vacated the unit at 86 Flixton Road (Halle May’s still exists as an online shop).

The building work is complete in Eden Square but some units remain empty and anecdotal evidence suggests that rents are far higher than would normally be achievable for an independent trader or a start-up business (there are exceptions: Hair Defnition Studios and Lily’s at Eden Square).  The Eden Square development itself is pleasant enough, but lacks the character one would find in a high street that has grown organically over time, instead of being ‘developmentally managed’.  Local people often comment that Eden Square’s sparse group of identical trees lacks the green lushness the name conjures up …

Oliver's Hot and Cold Food recently opened on Grosvenor Rd.

Oliver’s Hot and Cold Food recently opened on Grosvenor Rd.Lil

But like dandelions in an urban space, new businesses spring up all the time in Urmston (Fouette, the dancewear shop, the Glass Slipper shoe boutique and Lily’s at Eden Square come to mind, but there are many more independent businesses freshly unwrapped in Urmston – please contact us or comment below if there are any you would like to see on this website).  This website aims to support those businesses and to celebrate what sets them apart from bigger corporate affairs.  It’s free and it always will be.  Please spread the word and let others know about Urmston Independents.

All About Urmston

Independent Urmston

Urmston
The Urmston clock stands proud on Flixton Road.

Urmston is a small market town on the fringes of the great metropolis of Mancunia.  Despite the towering presence of the Trafford Centre just a ten minute drive away, Urmston offers an eclectic mix of independent businesses – from gift shops (such as Attiques, in the covered market) and card shops (we like Card World on Crofts Bank Road) to pre-loved vintage clothing boutiques (such as Scarlett’s Bazaar on Church Road) and fancy dress emporia (Bon Fabrics at Davyhulme Circle or Affordable Fancy Dress on Church Road) .

Beautiful books, quirky gifts and toys at Urmston Bookshop.
Beautiful books, quirky gifts and toys at Urmston Bookshop.

A quest for a beautifully designed book or a pretty eco-toy should lead you along Flixton Road to Urmston Bookshop, where Frances and Peter run all manner of exciting craft-and-creativity themed events, as well as hosting book groups and author signings.  While you’re on Flixton Road, you can pick up some wool across the road at HMK Wools or get a key cut  by the (shh!) magic elves that run Wizard Shoe Repairs.

Do your ugly sisters leave you weeping in the cinders every Saturday night?  Then take a trip in your pumpkin coach to the Glass Slipper on Station Road, where the lovely shoe-fairy godmothers will ensure you shall go to the ball!  If it’s help with a carpentry project or DIY supplies you crave,  Chesworths DIY is one of Urmston’s hidden gems; an old-fashioned  timber merchant and supplier of DIY materials  a stone’s throw from Urmston town centre on Gloucester Road.

There’s more to Urmston than excellent independent shops, services and eateries, though: we also have a tweeting treeparks a-plenty and our very own town clock, recently restored after an unexplained absence of several years.

Contact Urmston Independents via email at urmstonindependents@hotmail.com.