Letter: Independents - Chains are hugely popular too

James Street, Harrogate.
James Street, Harrogate.

Well done to Paul Rawlinson for using his high profile and influence to try and trigger some discussion concerning the threats and challenges facing independently-owned businesses in Harrogate (Advertiser, August 10).

While I know the Advertiser is keen to support “Indy” businesses and that they’re the focus of one of your ongoing campaigns, I find it disappointing that you always appear rather reluctant to present what might be described as “the other point of view”.

You seem to adopt a rather aloof attitude towards corporate retail establishments together with chain restaurants, coffeeshops and pubs. Yet many of these places are highly popular and, arguably, have an edge over independents in that you know exactly what you’re going to get; and in many cases, at very affordable prices.

No one is denying there are some fantastic independent businesses in Harrogate which appeal because they provide a niche product or a particularly warm welcome. But, I for one, don’t buy the idea that all independent businesses are superbly-run and deserve my patronage simply because they are privately-owned.

I will also be sceptical if Mr Rawlinson’s new “indies” guide is simply the result of independent business having paid to be featured in the guide. Wouldn’t it be rather more fitting (and much more valuable to the consumer) if Harrogate’s guide to independent businesses was collated and produced by an individual or organisation entirely independent of those businesses?

Peter Lilley

Valley Drive, Harrogate