Ilkley - Not A Clone Town

To Ilkley today where Lindsey visits one of her favourite book shops (in Addingham, a nearby village) while I enjoy the gentility of Ilkley's main street for a couple of hours.

This is no "clone town". There are chain stores and there are charity shops. But there are also plenty of interesting, independent shops selling a wide range of good quality, carefully sourced items - from The Grove book shop to the famous Betty's tea rooms. Interesting towns are increasingly rare and much has been written on the creep of the clone towns in recent years. So many high streets are virtually identical with the same choice of dull chain stores. As Fascinating Aida sing in their song Tesco Saves, "They sell unattractive clothing in a range of ugly styles..."

Of course, today's successful independent shop could become the chain store of tomorrow. I remember Anita Roddick opening her first "Body Shop", an innovative and unique venture selling eco cosmetics from the back streets of Brighton. But at least we enjoyed that for 30 years before she sold out to L'Oreal.

The current economic situation is dire and many chains have called in the administrators - what better evidence can there be of their total failure to sell things that their customers actually want to buy. Classic economic theory suggests that human innovation will fill these gaps, that the replacements for the failed chain store branches will be an improvement, meeting the needs of customers in a better, more imaginative way. And perhaps our national love-affair with clone towns will wane, just a little.

Until then, a couple of pictures.