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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Shop Closure

Well I am mourning the closure of one of the local shops, the “Stromness Deli” – not a deli in the usual sense, more a general grocery shop in the town just across the water from Graemsay. But it was a popular shop for the island as it sold all sorts of spices and interesting ingredients for continental cooking, wines and spirits, as well as the usual fare of local bread (and cake), cheese etc. We could phone up for supplies, have them put on the next boat and pay whenever we were in town. Unfortunately the owners say the shop is no longer viable and so the doors closed finally on Thursday this week.

It is so sad to see shops closing in the town of Stromness, there is still a local bakery, and the local Co-op supermarket, as well as a superb local butcher who not only sells local meat but also fruit and veg. In fact the butcher, in my opinion, sells the best fruit and veg in the town, which can be a problem if you are a confirmed “veggie” as you cannot ignore the meat display as you pay for your purchases!

However the neighbouring town of Kirkwall has two medium-sized supermarkets, a Somerfield and a Lidl. Lidls has proved very popular since it opened a couple of years ago. Generally its prices are the lowest in Orkney, and again it supplies lots of continental and foreign foods and ingredients, as well as having special offers on non-food items.

I suspect many of the smaller shops have struggled since Lidl arrived in Orkney. But it’s a tough balance – folk welcome food at reasonable prices, love the special offers and bargains of the local supermarkets. However supermarkets tend to transport all the produce from South, arriving via the larger ferries from the North of Scotland. In the winter months, when ferries are cancelled it is not uncommon to see empty shelves.

Many folk remember a time when Orkney shops were mainly filled with local produce – meat, milk, bread, cakes, biscuits, fruit and vegetables. Of course this meant only eating food that was in season. Now we as consumers are so used to having whatever we want whenever we want. At the moment my fridge is full of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and other fruits normally only seen in the Summer in the UK. I do try where I can to buy “local” produce, because I want to support local suppliers, reduce the carbon footprint of the food I eat etc. But oh the supermarkets are sooooo tempting with their wares and special offers, and I’m afraid I am too weak willed to resist. But I fervently hope that our remaining Stromness shops maintain enough business to survive – otherwise it will mean a 30 mile round trip to town for cake….. (my friends will be aware how important CAKE is to my survival......)

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