After rolling my eyes for a good 20 minutes, ok maybe 5 seconds, I have finally mustered up the energy to share these bad for me and good for others news. This is clearly England's backahanded way of getting back at the GOLD MEDAL WINNING South African Mens' Rowing team this afternoon. Topshop and Topman are opening stores in South Africa, Sandton to be exact (wow, what a surprise) in November of this year. That is in three calendar months.
For some of you, this must be good news. No more sending your London friends money to buy you something that will make you feel like you're cooler because you've got the ''London Look'' (pout) and no more showing off to your unfortunate small town compatriots who have never Minded the Gap on tube en route to their favourite high street shop. Wank wank.
Who am I kidding, I fucken love Topshop but this is by no means good news for South African retail. It's great for the customer because there's more to choose from but honestly, I can't sit here and pretend that I am doing cartwheels. But of course, I knew this was going to happen, anybody could have guessed that after Zara opened three stores in South Africa within 12 months, it was only going to be a matter of waiting before Topshop, H&M and bloody Primark, where you can buy 10 pairs of socks for the enormous sum of £1, would follow suit.
Why does this have me pulling this face all afternoon?
Because it means small businesses like Mememe and others that are all about promoting local product, are going to suffer even more than they are having to compete with giant stores like our local retailers and the likes of Zara. I could really express better sportsmanship and display the manners that my mother taught me but I'm too busy shaking in my boots to employ any form of decorum right now. It only means we have to pull our socks even higher or just get new ones all together.
These guys come in with their fast turning fashion, competitive prices and the lure of being from overseas. I've heard mixed reactions from different people about Zara, some going there literally every weekend while others think it's just ok, nothing that deserves a status update or rave. But still, the more stores they have, the less people are going to shop at the places they have been shopping at. The local market, while hungry for overseas trinkets, is still emerging. There simply aren't enough people to support such rapid growth and the more of these overseas stores come, the pool of buyers will just remain the same or get smaller. As much as it didn't bitch slap us like it did America and Europe, we are still in a recession in South Africa. We have 3 million unemployed youth, 40% unemployment, the schools and medical facilities are in a state of decline, before we even get to the sorry state of local manufacturing. We're a nation of consumers and that would be ok, if we were producing even half of what we are consuming as a nation. I won't lie, people who are in small local retail like me have to do other things (styling, consulting, tv commercials or whatever else pays the bills) to support themselves. If anybody thinks I'm rich from Mememe, I have news for you. Firstly I'm not rich, secondly, not yet anyway. It takes years for boutiques like ours to make real money and those years are stretched even more by the presence of super shops whose expansion is indicative of their brilliant business sense, but also an imperialism that puts us natives at serious risk. Oh, Edgars, good old Eddies and their Busby group are bringing this shop to our shoes (what's that saying, if you can't beat them, join them?). Good move. If I was the others, I'd be looking up the dialing code for Sweden.
I'm sorry to the poor girl that sent me the press release about this news saying ''I must be really excited''. Yes, I will check it out because I like things, but honesly, no I am not excited. Hayi kabi.