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02/07/2010

Comments

dave

'What does it mean in our everyday shopping for us to bring God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?'

I've been thinking about this a lot recently not just with respect to Fairtrade but with where I do my shopping.

There's an old man with a shop in Lisburn and I went in to buy some parsley the other day. He was so happy to see me but had no parsley in. He looked disappointed and kept on apologizing for not having parsley until tomorrow morning.
I said 'Its grand, I'll pop in and get my parsley' tomorrow.

So I called in a few days later and said 'Is your parsley in yet?' and he said 'Yes, its lovely and fresh but quite expensive'. I was starting to get worried but then he handed me a big bunch and said 'That will be 50p'. I was the only customer in the shop and I was only giving him 50p.

Then one Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago I was sitting in the coffee shop in Lisburn Tesco watching the people walking up and down like zombies. I counted the number of tills that where open as I left the store, 23 and approx 2 deep in each line.

How much profit does the Tesco's in Lisburn make every year?

And as a Christian should I be pouring all my money into Tesco/Sainsburys etc for the shareholder to make more money or is it better to shop with a local shop owner even though its harder to get to, or has not as much variety, or is a bit dingy inside etc?
If I have to shop in Tesco should I use a self scanning till when that has probably taken the job of a real life person?

H Rollins

Fair enough buy Fairtrade but what's wrong with Tesco (or indeed Sonop Vineyard) making profits? I am happy with the shareholder of Tesco's making more money after I 'pour' in my money on my weekly shopping- after all they provide a business that supplies me with cheap groceries in a handy location.

A Christian following such a consumer's policy will have more money in their pocket and time on their hands to bring in God's Kingdom perhaps by supporting deserving charitable causes...and not of all us believe propping up an unprofitable business to be one!

Richard

Don't think Dave was telling you not to shop at tesco's but was questioning his own shopping habits. I think you are very sensitive...wonder why?
Don't think you need spare time and disposable income to bring in God's kingdom like you suggest.

H Rollins

I realise Dave is most welcome to discuss his shopping habits (and it's great that people think about why and where they shop) however it was more the 'as a Christian' element, which takes it beyond the personal, that I was responding to.

Indeed you dont need disposable income and time but I reckon it helps.

Sensitive?! You know I just dont want the share price to drop too far!

dave

The whole Fairtrade movement is about loving our neighbours, treating them justly and ensuring that they get a fair deal for their products

Where we buy our groceries and Fairtrade products in the towns we live should also be about loving our neighbours,treating them fairly and ensuring they get a fair deal.

Perhaps its just a personal thing(but I'm not sure it is) but it doesn't seem fair to me when a small retailer who has been serving the public well in a town for years is suddenly sidelined when a large multi national store moves to the outskirts.
Is it fair that the small shop owners loose out and find it hard to make a living while Tesco which made over £3bn in 2009 continues to open in more and more towns?

Some people would say thats business but I thought as Christians we believed in something different to survival of the fittest?

Or if there is a new coffee shop opened in town and the girl is trying to make it work should being a Christian influence our decision to buy with her (even if its 20p more expensive) or should we go to Starbucks as its cheaper and what we're familiar with?

H Rollins

In our global village we have many neighbours to love and that includes those involved in Tesco so I prefer not to take sides, unless it's a personal thing, between those in the corner store and those in the multi nationals.
Tesco have a successful business model and I feel that is to be congratulated. They provide a great service (including stocking a great deal of Fairtrade products) thus I continue to shop there.
On a personal basis there are a number of 'local' stores that I often frequent for a variety of reasons but I dont feel there should be any obligation to do so based on Christian beliefs.
Fair play to anyone who tries to make a new cafe venture work (NI could do with a lot more entrepreneurs) but unless it offers something more than the Starbucks down the road I will continue to buy my Fairtrade latte in the global chain.

dave

Fair enough - we're lucky enough to have the freedom to shop wherever we want:)

I just don't think we can limit the idea of Fairtrade to bits and pieces of our weekly shop such as coffee and bananas and think that Fairtrade doesn't apply to where we actually do our shopping from day to day.

And I wouldn't say that there is anything wrong with deliberately choosing to shop at the local market instead of Tesco.
If we choose Tesco because of the convenience and cheap prices we have picked a side, the side of cheapness and convenience.
But since when has loving our neighbours been cheap or convenient?

I guess from Steve's original post I just can't accept that our society here in Ireland is so perfect that we don't have our own fences of injustice to deal with when it comes to trading etc.

H Rollins

You make it sound like there is something wrong with cheap and convenient!
Loving our neighbours isn't always difficult.
We don't have to make shopping or loving our neighbours expensive and inconvenient just for the sake of it.

There are injustices in society however I don't see normal competition between businesses, as outlined in the examples you have given, as being one of them.

Richard

Think that loving our neighbours is usually difficult...you should meet mine! I love cheap and convenient, to have spare time and disposable income too...still cant figure out how that helps to bring in Gods kingdom though...whatever that means. Thanks, makes me feel better now about not thinking about where i spend my money:) the market will sort it all out in the end...i love that invisible hand.

H Rollins

Sorry to hear that you have such neighbours!

I'm not quite sure at which point you think you were given 'the nod' to refrain from thinking about where you shop.

You have £1 to buy your food (Fairtrade of course) for the day. It costs 80p in Tesco or £1 with the local shop owner. I'm advocating choosing the former and using the 'saved' 20% for a cause that's more charitable (my personal opinion) than propping up a local business...but I guess that's just the way I think when spending my money.

Richard

Part of Dave's original posting was that the parsley he bought turned out to be good value after all. Sometimes I think we are conned by clever marketing and product placement, very few of us go in to a large store and come out with less than what we went in for.
I think there is more to being charitable than saving 20% (if you really do) and then redistributing it...does anyone really do this? You seem to have no problems at all with large stores cornering ever larger parts of the market, however many people do have concerns for genuine choice and competition. i have also noticed that the larger store that i shop in has been withdrawing fair trade products from its shelves recently. i don't think that Dave's points are unreasonable and i fail to see how or why you seem to have been so annoyed by them. surely his comments are not likely to affect your share prices too detrimentally?

H Rollins

As mentioned previously I too shop in local stores for a variety of reasons including the fact they provide choice and at times great value.
If people feel that shopping in such stores will maintain genuine choice and competition or simply because they find it good value then by all means keep spending your £s there and state your arguments for doing so.

It was just the 'as a Christian' reason that I was reacting to (rather than being annoyed by).

Of course there are many ways to be charitable I was just giving one alternative to Dave's thinking and whether I follow this or not really is irrelevant.

Oh and make sure you enquire as to where your favourite Fairtrade products have disappeared to.

Richard

I can see why you would react to someone saying that a Christian should not shop in Tesco, don't know if this is what Dave was saying, he would have to clarify this I guess. I think there are as many views of what a Christian is as there are people who call themselves Christian anyway, I'm not sure if I would define myself as such.
My point was more about the 'propping up of failed businesses'. And I agree with you, we shouldn't. We shouldn't be propping up failed banks that are insolvent in Ireland and the U.K. I am amazed at people who I would have thought believed in the free market supporting vast subsidies for the banks; it's a funny old world.
Must make a point of asking about the fairtrade products at my supermarket. Some would argue that fairtrade is itself a system that unrealistically distorts the natural market price.

Canalways.wordpress.com

its past my bedtime and I don't want to hi-jack Steve's original post but just because business operates on the principle of survival of the fittest and competion it doesn't mean that a Christian does.

Surely we live primarily in the Kingdom of Grace and self sacrificial love and surely that puts a different call on our lives and the way we live them out in our local communities than we might read in the business section of the paper and hear on the news?

I guess another way of thinking about it is people before profit.
Thats what is good about Fairtrade as it puts people before profits

But on the other hand if supermarkets, governments, big companies, shareholders etc believed in something other than survival of the fittest, making maximum profits (which usually means being scabby with the amount they pay the producer) we mightn't need Fairtrade in the first place.

I'm not an economist,I'm just trying to work out where Jesus might want me to shop round Belfast and Lisburn.
I just think Fairtrade has to be more than buying a packet of coffee and some bananas each week.
Who you buy your packet of coffee and bananas from matters as well.

Money is a gift from God so we've a responsibility to use it well, for builing the Kingdom of grace and loving our neighbours and world. If you guys use the 20% you've saved at the supermarket for charity, fair play!

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