Chain monsters destroying shops

IN your recent article on the supermarket invasion of Stroud Green Road ( Fears over the arrival of yet another chain supermarket , Gazette, August 19) two of your interviewees described the loss of independent retailers as sad .

IN your recent article on the supermarket invasion of Stroud Green Road ("Fears over the arrival of yet another chain supermarket", Gazette, August 19) two of your interviewees described the loss of independent retailers as "sad".

This defeatist type of reaction is becoming common, particularly among senior politicians and businessmen, who are forever implying that this is just "one of those things" that is outside everybody's control and that we that simply need to accept.

In the real world, when an independent retailer is displaced by a chain store, it's not just "sad"; it's potentially disastrous. Small independent businesses, with the right local focus, are often vital ingredients in a buoyant community, especially when customers can interact directly with the owners.

This rarely happens with a chain store, because no matter how benevolent its manager, he or she could be fired or sidelined for expressing opinions or taking actions that conflict with the shareholders' values. So every time a chain store muscles its way into our local parades, it represents another nail in the coffin for local autonomy and scores another victory for homogenisation.

One day we might snap out of our busy, electronically-assisted lives, only to discover a Stroud Green Road that is indistinguishable from every other shopping centre in the world, riddled with chain stores and all their gadgets for collecting money and statistics from ordinary citizens. The reality will sink in that you can neither barter nor banter with a barcode reader, and shopping will become so impersonal that we might as well do it all online. Then the chain monsters will win and we will be stuck with a Big Brother culture for ever. - Ian Shacklock, Monsell Road, N4.