On not understanding the damn point

But empires are built on defeat and disaster as much as they are on success and triumph, and so it is with the seemingly inexorable rise of Sports Direct, which has forced hundreds of independent retailers out of business by ruthlessly undercutting their prices, and in the process changed the landscape of the British high street.

For the story of Mike Ashley is a story with far more losers than winners.

No it fucking isn’t you ignorant loon.

Consumers have made out like sodding bandits. And they’re the only ones we should be concerned with.


21 thoughts on “On not understanding the damn point”

  1. I met Brian Viner once, in the company of a very famous rugby player who is a good friend of mine, and about whom Viner was writing an article for the Independent.

    Part of the deal (I believe, I was just there waiting to go for lunch afterwards with my chum) was that Viner would mention a product which was involved with this sportsman as a sponsor.

    This was before the RWC 2003, so at a time when rugby players – even very famous ones – were well paid but not excessively so, given the brevity of the career.

    Having agreed to this deal beforehand, Viner attempted to renege at the meeting, and was highly supercilious throughout with the player, whom he seemed to think was his intellectual inferior. (He isn’t.)

    Viner seemed to me at the time to be a liar, and a snob, and not to understand economics at all. This latest piece bears all of that out.

  2. Consumers have made out like sodding bandits.

    I think we can identify a lot of people who lost here. All the smaller bookies for instance. My heart bleeds for our semi-criminal community, really it does. But by kind of definition, customers have to lose. Or bookies go out of business. He has done well. Based on customers loosing a lot, and quite often.

    Some people might think there was a moral issue here. Helping customers bet more efficiently and easily probably means they are losing even more money. Now I think it is for the good because the point of gambling is not coming out ahead – that is why it is called gambling and not winning. It is the pleasure in the anticipation that you might. Which you won’t. So the customers lost a lot of money but had some degree of fun for some period of time while doing it. Has that changed? I would think not.

    I am fine with gambling. But a lot of other people aren’t. And they do have half a point.

  3. SMFS – I don’t think Tim’s headline was meant as an instruction! (Sports Direct is a sporting goods retailer, not a bookie.)

  4. Part of the headline says “But at what price for consumers?” Now this might have been written by the sub-editor and not Brian Viner, but it’s still a stupid question. The price has been fantastic for consumers. They are the winners. They have benefited from Mike Ashley’s empire building.

  5. “The humble shopper, in the meantime, can cheerfully take advantage of plenty of improbable and outrageous reductions. But at what cost to our culture?
    ‘Those lovely old independent sports shops, where the staff had time for you, and where they’d measure your feet for the right trainers, have just about all gone to the wall,’ one former retailer told me. “

    Blimey, sports shops are part of our “culture” now?

  6. Rob,

    Indeed. “Save the High Street” is mostly Luddism. And in the same way that we industrialised weaving in the 19th century, so we industrialised retailing in the 20th century.

    And frankly, most independents really weren’t very good. The small independents that you see today are the ones that survived, the ones that added value, got customers to return.

  7. “‘Those lovely old independent sports shops, where the staff had time for you, and where they’d measure your feet for the right trainers, have just about all gone to the wall,’ one former retailer told me. “

    Not apparently a service anyone was willing to pay for.

    But it always fascinates. The same people who don’t like ‘one size fits all’ big retailers generally do like ‘one size fits all’ State provision. No doubt if the Sports Council had a sports requisites division, Viner would be wanking himself into a lather over it.

  8. “And frankly, most independents really weren’t very good.”

    So you say–and maybe its true–those who serve their customers better prospering etc. And maybe it’s the Internet. Both are those are happenings that would have happened also in a truly free market. And that would be that.
    But we don’t know cause we have a state warped fascistic “marketplace” not a free one.

  9. Having used indie sports shops and chain sports shops I cannot see the difference between them in customer service and help. Can see a big difference in price and range available.

  10. Sports Direct sells tat. I was recently tempted by some of its polo and t-shirts. They were all made of polyester. You can even buy 100% cotton goods in Tescos and Sainsburys. So it actually boils down to selling to chavs who do not have sensitive skin. They aren’t really sports shops ( despite the occasional football or basketball or golf set ), just low-end clothes shops like Primark. Viner is just being snobbish, of course.
    p.s. TK Maxx – I didn’t understand his dig at the emporium, it is a good concept ( ex-catalogue or bankrupt stock ) and the ones in my vicinity seem to do a roaring trade. If the buyer has been feeling inspired, you can really hit the jackpot on some very nice goods. You just take your chance, unlike SD where you are sure to be disappointed.

  11. “Not apparently a service anyone was willing to pay for.”

    More like a service anyone was willing to wait for, either, in my experience of any kind of footwear retailer.

    Go in a shop, pick a pair of shoes off the shelf, try them on, find a pair that fit, are comfortable, and look good, go and pay for them, what is the problem?

  12. Viner is a snob.

    most SD stuff is crap, but since most sports kits is sold to overweight chavs to wear down to the pub, it doesn’t matter.

    serious runners, cyclists swimmers etc who need something more can still go to better shops where they sell proper kit, ad they pay more obviously.

    its what the market is for, and frankly the indies who have gone, obviously weren’t supplying what the market really wanted. those that do, are still there.

  13. Let’s be candid here, Sports Direct is a multinational tax dodger. No, I haven’t seen their accounts but any company frowned upon by The Guardian is probably guilty anyway.

    The cure is nationalisation.

  14. Having purchased from SD, and worn it, don’t have a problem with the products. If I want something they don’t stock or in a material they don’t use I go elsewhere. If I want something they stock at a price I find attractive they are worthwhile.
    Can buy similar items from other shops and pay more – without any ideological problem with SD there’s no reason why I would.

  15. I think one of the principal losers is certainly the martyr, Brian Viner.

    I mean, he probably has more than one O-level but doesn’t even have his first billion yet.

    Disappointment! Outrage! Snippiness!!!

  16. Those lovely old independent sports shops, where the staff had time for you, and where they’d measure your feet for the right trainers

    Where and when the fuck was that? JJB sports used to have one, sometimes two, shops on every high street before that it was some other brand I can’t remember. We must have to go back to the 1970s or something.

  17. serious runners, cyclists swimmers etc who need something more can still go to better shops where they sell proper kit, ad they pay more obviously.

    Exactly. “Sports” stores have long been fashion shops for chavs, and smaller, specialist shops cater for proper sportsmen. I remember Manchester having specialist running, cycling, golf, and martial arts shops back in the late 90’s which I’d bet are still there. Same reason why all the technie nerds I knew went to MicroDirect rather than PC World.

  18. ‘…where they’d measure your feet for the right trainers…’

    @BiS ‘Not apparently a service anyone was willing to pay for.’

    It’s just not necessary now, and Viner’s a twat for even writing this.

    I remember both the first pair of rugby boots I was bought and the first pair of proper cricket boots – both around 1977ish, when I was about 10.

    The cricket boots were made of stiff, nasty leather which you had to whiten with blanco, and the rugby boots actually were boots – ankle high, aluminium toe-caps, the same stiff leather.

    Both were top of the range (social death to have the wrong equipment at school).

    I remember the cricket boots cost £14.99, because my granny gave me £15 to get them and was surprised by the lack of change. That’s about £60 today.

    They weighed about a stone apiece and it would have taken me a season to wear both of them in; as it was, my feet grew so I needed new pairs of equally crap expensive boots within a few months. And so on, until the mid 1980s when equipment started improving a bit.

    Back in 1977, it probably was important to have a kindly old gent who’d been selling this crap for the last 40 years helping you to choose (not that there actually was all that much choice).

    Here in 2013, I just bought a new pair of cricket boots, taking advantage of the end of year sales; I bought them online, they cost £38.99 and they fit like a glove.

    Last weekend I bought one of my 12-year-old daughters a pair of adidas football/rugby boots in SD (modern life isn’t great in all ways) – size 8 (she’s a tall girl), £20, and interchangeable (you just change the studs for rugby). She hardly knows she has them on.

    The improvement in sports goods is actually a great signifier of the general improvement in our lives.

    Modern cricket bats – way, way better than the planks we played with as kids.

    Modern boxes – anyone remember those oddly flesh-coloured things we used to wear?

    Modern batting gloves – my first pair of gloves were those old green spike ones which didn’t even keep your hands warm at the start of the season, never mind protect against the ball.

    Balls that got waterlogged, canvas pads, mythical thigh pads, hygroscopic woollen jumpers that weighed as much as you did if there was rain within five miles…

    Viner: Modern Life is Great Compared to the Past. Leftie progressives – the new conservatives.

  19. @Interested. “football/rugby boots” – football boots ARE NOT INTERCHANGEABLE with rugby boots. You need proper footballs boot to strike the ball nicely if you want to play the beautiful game, rugger boots will not do. Nor would you want to play rugger in football boots, though that would not be as bad as the other way round.

  20. When I turned out in my rugby club’s Summer Football League side I wore my ordinary rugby boots. They did. (And we nearly always won, real football players being unfit, stupid and none too brave).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *