TRADERS in Goring are backing the campaign to keep Tesco out of the village.
They say the supermarket giant’s arrival could put them out of business and would destroy the village’s character.
They fear the new store would lure away their customers and reduce footfall in the village centre, which would affect other businesses not in direct competition.
Jack Patel, the owner of Westholme Stores in Wallingford Road, said: “It’s wrong that Tesco can just come in and take everything away.
“This is my livelihood and I’ll need to sell it to retire. If they take my trade away there will be nothing left for me.”
The 55-year-old has owned the shop for 26 years and has extended it several times. He runs it with his wife Shrina, children Nikita and Rupen and 10 staff and lives in a flat above the store.
Mr Patel said: “I’ve worked hard on this shop over the years and don’t want to see it go. When you’ve been in the village for so long you become part and parcel of the community. People come in here to have a chat and a laugh and that’s what being a small village shop is all about.
“I’m not against Tesco opening where there’s no competition but they shouldn’t take from struggling shopkeepers.
“At the moment they are a law unto themselves. They’re opening left, right and centre and killing small traders. They’re monopolising and eliminating all the competition. It won’t be long before they rule everybody’s lives.”
Joe Simmons, of Simmons and Sons butchers, at The Arcade in High Street, said: “In a community like this, you need personal service. We cater for individual customers, whether they want two loose sausages or something special like a rack of lamb, but the likes of Tesco just buy in bulk.
“You go in and what’s on the shelves is what they’ve got — take it or leave it. That’s not the sort of store that’s required in this area.
“If Tesco does open, that extra bit of trade we’d normally be doing will filter away and make it unviable for us to run our shops. In the long term, the whole community will lose out because they won’t get that individual treatment.”
The shop has been a butcher’s since the Sixties. Mr Simmons’ brother Charlie took it over about 20 years ago.
Mr Simmons said: “Nobody here is making a fortune from their shop. We’re never going to get rich but we enjoy what we do and that’s what counts.
“We’re like a little meeting area. Everyone who comes in knows each other and stops for a little chat, which is really nice in this day and age. When you go into supermarkets there’s just a person at the counter doing their job. It’s a quick ‘thank you’ and then away you go.
“Goring is a very tight community and once communities are broken up they can never be put back together. This is a lovely village full of some lovely characters but once the big businesses come in they tend to spoil things.”
Lisa Milne, who owns Mary S Interiors in High Street, said: “All our independent traders contribute towards the community, especially Jack. When it snowed last year, he was out delivering milk to people who couldn’t get out of their homes. I can’t see Tesco doing that.
“However, he is going to struggle to compete with their prices and I just hope people don’t stop using him. If Tesco does open, I don’t think people will use the village’s individual shops as much as they say they will.
“Our shops might have to sell up for residential development and there wouldn’t be a heart to the village any more. Tesco says it will create 20 new jobs but how many jobs will be lost because of them? It doesn’t stack up.”
Shaun McNamee, owner of Swift Ink at The Arcade, said: “We don’t need a Tesco as we already have everything we need. It will suck everyone out of Goring who would normally come around all the shops and support us.
“Tesco won’t directly compete with us but if people aren’t coming into the village they won’t come here. All businesses will be affected by a Tesco, whether directly or indirectly.”
Carol Edwards, who owns Ferry Lane Florist, said: “Tesco may be able to do a lot with their price but they don’t offer a professional, personal service like we do.
“Some of our customers say they know people who are in favour but most people we’ve spoken to are against it. Tesco has taken on the wrong village — if they were looking for a fight they’ve definitely got one.”
Lisa Petronzio, who owns the Spiral Oak alternative therapy shop in High Street, said: “I live in Blewbury and there’s very little there, so a Tesco would be brilliant because people wouldn’t need to travel so far to go shopping.
“However, there’s an established core of businesses in Goring and a Tesco on the edge of the village centre would affect everybody.”
Martin Dakin, owner of the Village Café in High Street, said: “It’s a risk to businesses in Goring because it will take the public from the high street.
“If it’s a typical Tesco Express there won’t be any direct competition with me but it depends on what they’re selling.”
Jeanne Hunter, the owner of Inspiration gift shop at The Arcade, said: “There are lots of different opinions. Some customers have said their families are divided on whether it’s a good thing or not.
“I don’t think it will affect my business as there isn’t too much overlap and I can see both sides of the argument. However, I am standing up on behalf of my fellow independents and opposing it because it will affect them.”
Jenny Hamilton, owner of Goring Hair Studio at The Arcade and Oliver’s salon in Station Road, said: “I know local people are very concerned and think it will spoil the village. Customers have been saying they don’t want it, though I don’t know whether they don’t want Tesco specifically or any new shop.
“I don’t sell food so it isn’t serious for me from that point of view, but if it keeps people off the high street then it will be serious.”
Ram Chandar, the owner of Nappers Fine Foods in High Street, has said Tesco would “mess everything up” and destroy Goring’s small businesses.