It goes on

Scandal! Outrage! There they were, the people of Crouch End, Twickenham and Walton-on-Thames, all leafy London suburbs, enjoying what appeared to be good coffee and delicious food in an attractive new independent cafe – when all the while it was they who were the mugs. Little did they realise that, actually, what they had been enjoying was good coffee and delicious food in an attractive new cafe … part-owned by Tesco.

Despite its perky blackboards with their drawn-on smiley faces, the new chain of coffee shops Harris + Hoole was launched by Australian siblings Nick, Andrew and Laura Tolley with a minority investment – and no doubt much satanic knowhow – from Britain\’s biggest supermarket. Even as we speak, there could be plans to open another of these deceptively pleasant places where you live.

The truth is that many people like the friendly local feel of independent shops, and the big multiples have noticed.

If it is friendly, serves coffee you like (it\’s not possible to say \”good coffee\” in the UK) and you like the teacakes, then what the hell do you care who owns it?

This is rather the point of this market economy shit. You don\’t have to worry about the who, their religion, sex, gender, nationality. You can just look at what you are being offered at what price and decide whether it\’s worth more to you than what you\’re being charged.

If it is, go for it, if it ain\’t then don\’t. It\’s all so much simpler than that Polanyi style network of mutual obligations. Which is why we use it of course.

18 comments on “It goes on

  1. Little do they realise that their actions are exactly the same as refusing to enter a shop run by homophobes. Or the “other side” refusing to enter a shop run by Asians.

  2. CIF yesterday was hilarious.

    Never seen such pathetic juvenile angst amongst supposed grown-ups.

    If they are not whipping the slaves who work in the place, what the hell?

    The new evil; Tesco, the chain that made reasonable (I go no further, I prefer other chains being well-off middle-class), well-priced food available all over.

    But they ain’t cool!

  3. Incidentally, hats off to the Tolleys.

    Getting a company like Tesco to invest in your idea is a real coup.

    More power to their elbow. And if you don’t like them go to the local greasy spoon…

  4. I know the guys by merit of their first cafes. They run Taylor Street Baristas with whom I have a feverish obsession. Phenomenal shops. I haven’t seen one of the new ones yet, but I imagine they are similarly good.

    And fair play to them. They ran a start up business and got investment from a major industry player. More power to them.

    I hope one opens near me.

  5. Someone was telling me the other day that he “doesn’t use Tesco” and I thought oh here we go… I dared to ask him why and was ready for a barrage of stuff about the Jews and smashing the little guy, etc..

    What he actually said was that once he had really bad customer service from there. Best reason in the world.

  6. It’s entirely consistent with the free market to boycott a place because – for whatever irrational cause – you don’t like its ownership structure.

    And as a result of the freedom of this market, I strongly suspect that this discovery will cost them business (not from me, I hasten to add, I’m more of a cuppa person, but from precisely the type that goes to such places)

  7. Fatty: yes it is. But it is also consistent with the free market (and free speech) to argue against the reasons for boycotting a place. Also, if the guardinistas had free range they would use force to ban places like Tesco (as they e.g. do in India)

  8. Fatty, anyone is free to choose what services to use on whatever grounds they think are important. However you have to be a special kind of stupid to feel guilty (and it is guilt that these people are experiencing) for enjoying a particular coffee shop because of the identity of one of the shareholders.

    What next, every business has to put a sign on its door listing every shareholder?

    Nick Griffin pays his taxes, so should we all boycott the NHS?

  9. I don’t think you have to be that stupid at all. You don’t like Tesco (whether because you hate the effect of out of town stores on the High Street, an earlier episode of bad customer service, you’re a snobby git, whatever) and find that they have a large stake in an enterprise. Boycott it. I can’t believe that the snide enjoyment of doing so will be outweighed by the comparative brilliance of their cups of brown water, relative to those of the competition.

    There’s no need to hunt the information down, but if you’re provided with it, do what you like

  10. My guess is that these CiF commentators are in a minority. People go for quality, defined parsimoniously as absence of variation. So chains will win against independents.

  11. So they’ve created another chain of coffee shops which Grauniad types avoid like the plague? Such a noble endeavour deserves our support.

    I just hope that (a) they have a decent loyalty card scheme and (b) they open one near me soon.

  12. Strange how Leftists are fans of boycotting private sector firms but they’re not in favour of boycotting the state.
    And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Tesco employees who rounded all those people up and shipped them off to the Gulag.

  13. bloke in france,

    It’s also a bit about the economics of trial and error.

    I know the best places to get a coffee in Marlborough, because I’ve tested them out, because it’s worth me testing them out because I’m going to use them regularly. I don’t shun Costas in Marlborough because it’s a corporate chain, but because I prefer the coffee/atmosphere/price of a place down near the church. Two of the cafes in Marlborough are, in my opinion, not as good as Costa.

  14. Vir, maybe they should start using it in the advertising:

    OUR CAFES ARE FREE FROM GUARDIAN READERS.

    Bit like the ‘free-from animal testing’ thing.

    I’d go.

  15. I love this sort of thing. To be fair, people can make whatever choices they like…

    …but upon reading the original article I was particularly amused by this bit:

    how to spot that you’re in a fake indie establishment: ” Perfect spelling and punctuation: that could be one clue that a well-paid executive might be the eminence grise behind some charming piece of signage. Low prices is another, since one of the main advantages of corporate ownership is improved negotiating power with suppliers. The branches of big chains aren’t often allowed to get too scruffy either, not with regional managers around. ”

    So per the Guardian: if the signage is correctly spelled and punctuated; if the produce is competitvely priced; if it’s spotless – GET OUT OF THERE!

  16. “Satanic”?

    Also, I’m beginning to suspect that Aunt Bessie’s Homestyle Roast Potatoes aren’t actually cooked by a nice old lady in her rustic kitchen. If that turns out to be true, I shall be so angry that I will write a letter to the Guardian.

  17. It’s also a bit about the economics of trial and error.

    …which indeed is the whole point of the “branding” that Guardianistas hate. It means that a branded product you buy in one place is the same as a branded product in another place, so you know what you’re getting before you buy it. Hence that despised “brand loyalty” that we hear is so terrible.

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