At a smart do the other day I noticed several local guys there without their wives. "What's that all about?" I said to my TWDB, "girlfriends get taken out, wives stay at home?" "Yep," he said, "you have more fun!" (We ain't getting married!) They certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves too... aided and abetted by the free booze...
On Wednesday, I went to see my optician and hung around for a chat. He has a shop in the local supermarket where I used to do my shopping. I say used to because I stopped when new management decided to hike up the prices to such a ridiculous extent that it became cheaper to shop at Carrouf even with the temptation of all the extra goodies to be had there.
I even sent the shop director a letter telling him so and included the fact that if he wanted anyone to buy the English products he shouldn't set them at luxury food level prices. Especially when what was on offer were things like digestive biscuits, HP Sauce and PG Tips. Hardly the food of kings. Did I get a response? Did I bugger.
So it was with interest that I heard from the optician that ever fewer people are shopping there and that it's referred to locally as 'Fauchon. As he said, for every person who tells him they aren't doing their shopping there any more, there'll be ten who haven't. While evidence of low footfall is becoming obvious (the place is empty at lunch time) management continues to deny that there has been any decrease in business. The optician and his fellow shopkeepers are very worried. Well, of course, if people go to Carrouf to shop, they'll also use the optician there, the dry-cleaners there and the hairdresser there.
I felt a tad guilty because I've been thinking of going to an even more local optician simply because it's nearer than the supermarket. Maybe I'd better rethink my treachery. I wouldn't like him to go out of business!
Two of the shops have ceased to trade already, but not necessarily for lack of custom. One, an estate agency, has had its assets frozen by the courts because they were caught out doing some dodgy business. Surprising, huh? An estate agent being dodgy, who'd a thunk it! They must be real idiots to have been caught out because how often does that happen? Most seem to go about their dodgy affairs with impunity amassing vast amounts of dosh very little of which seems to have been earned actually working. I mean, take two houses, one going for €300K the other €900K. They do the same amount of showing people around and writing up a couple of forms but earn €15K on one and €45K on the other. How much work did they actually do? One week's worth total?
Friends of mine were trying to buy a house recently. They had to go through an agent but she was so crappy not being helpful and not trying to negotiate the price that they decided to deal directly with the owner. The owner agreed to a price but then threw a strop when she realised the agent wasn't included in the deal. Unfortunately the agent was a personal friend; a crappy agent, but a personal friend and they started making abusive calls and sending abusive letters to my friends. Instead of trying to come to a compromise (my friends made a higher offer to include the agent, but not as much as 5% which she hadn't earned), the owner said she flatly refused to sell the house to them. The agent must be a priceless friend...
The other shop to have gone out of business is the dvd rental/newsagents. This is a bummer because I have a rental card with about 25€ on it but can't rent dvds any more. No one seems to know what's happened, whether the (very jolly) guy is sick, or having problems or what. The shop is dark and the windows are getting ever grubbier. I can't imagine the supermarket
I wouldn't mind, but you just get the same old products you can get in all the other shops nearby of the same brand. Just twice the price. How sustainable is that? I'd love to know which business model management are using. The only ones I can think of are the 'Taking the Piss' model of fleecing the customer, or maybe 'The Customer is an Idiot' model of assuming no one can count, or perhaps 'Take the Money and Run' (to Brazil) which leaves a shambles of debt and jobless employees.
So that just about sums it up for the goss; shame I can't tell you who's shagging who...