There is a new shopping centre just opened in Leeds, where I live, called the Trinity Centre. It has been in progress for a very long time. One of it’s entrances is on Briggate, which until now has been Leeds’ main and perfectly adequate High Street. In this blog post I am going to air my views on this new shopping centre and also our habits on spending our money on the High Street, elaborating on a brief ranty Facebook status I posted earlier today..
So I went to visit the Trinity Centre yesterday, and all I can say is that it’s pretty soulless, clinical, and not very groundbreaking.
From what I could see, there were only a handful of independent shops, maybe four, tops.. and some of them were ‘pop-ups’. Independent businesses are what make each town or city different and they inject personality to town centres and high streets. Because of this they are very important to the identity of a place. It is disappointing to see that developers of these huge shopping centres cannot see this simple fact. Apparently smaller businesses were offered rent free periods to encourage them to take up spaces in the Trinity Centre, which is a great idea in principle.. but what happens when the rent free period runs out and they can’t afford the astronomical rent like Primark and Next can because these shopping centres with huge chains encourage people to think that they should only be spending their money on brands, and huge corporations?
I am sick and tired of seeing shop after shop of the same thing. I am not against High Street shops, I sometimes buy basics from H&M, food from Yo Sushi, etc.. but does Leeds really need two Primarks, two H&Ms, two large cinemas and a tonne of empty units on the street where brands have moved into the shiny new shopping centre? I think not. I believe shoppers are perfectly able to walk a few extra metres to get to the original Primark. If we are not careful, we will create a town centre with what I call the ‘Starbucks’ problem.. multiple carbon copies of stores along each street!
I understand these stores create much needed jobs (but with a majority of the stores just moving from the high street I have to wonder just how many jobs it has actually ‘created’) and I am glad that people who were looking for work now have steady incomes, but I have to wonder how many of these people would prefer to work for themselves, or in a different line of work entirely? Offering jobs doesn’t mean they’ve sorted peoples lives out, it’ll probably mean they will work themselves to misery in a huge chain store where their individual needs and personalities don’t really matter, maybe for decades.
It’s up to shoppers and normal everyday people to change the way the High Street works, and i’m disappointed that the general population are veering towards these big shiny stores because they think it’s progress. It is not progress… Progression would be realising the brainwashing abilities of these big brands and instead choosing to support businesses run by families, individuals, craftspeople.. vote with your feet people! If spending our money on products and services from independent traders becomes normal, we may encourage those who are longing to start a business, create a product or offer a service to do just that! It is hard to see the positives in starting your own business when you have to constantly and rather dishearteningly observe a society who will gladly ignore the little businesses.
Why is it the ‘norm’ to pay pennies for something we know will fall apart after we’ve washed it a few times, or eat food we know has arrived pre prepared in a truck from who-knows-where? It strikes me as far more ‘normal’ to pay a decent price for something that will last me forever, or eat food prepared fresh and pay a fair price for it, all the while knowing my money is going directly to the people that have actually earned it and not to a boardroom of decision makers with no connection to the average shopper, or you know.. that PERSON, whose hard earned money is being spent, which by the way, is YOU..
In conclusion, I don’t hate Trinity… I hate the way it’s been done, and I hate the way people have glorified it.. but most of all I hate what places like Trinity are doing to hard-working, independent businesses.
A lot of people will disagree with me, and that’s okay.. I might be wrong about some things, but these are my opinions right now.