Some have suggested the opening of a new shop in the old Dixon’s store on Folkestone High Street is a much needed boost to the local jobs market and the struggling High Street. Sadly, I think this might be far too optimistic an assessment because that new store is Bright House, a company that most certainly giveth but also, even more certainly, taketh away.
Bright House sells various household items (be they white goods, furniture or computer game consoles) and was opened with loud music and costumed mascots who welcomed crowds of people through the doors. Excitable people were sat all around the store, on their comfy display sofas, signing up for easy credit and weekly payment plans.
Like most stores, you can buy their goods outright with cash, but the sale price is very high. You’d be better off buying from one of the other shops in town or, better yet for those on a tight budget, buying online. But of course, they don’t expect anyone to buy products from them like that, that price just helps inflate their profit margin that little bit more. What they are really about is offering credit. You can buy your sofa or your kids Christmas present and spread the payments over three years. The interest helps increases the already over-the-top price by another 30% and, if you include their Service Cover, that price increases to almost double.
I’m sure they’d argue that they are offering those who cannot afford to buy things up front, and who have credit difficulties, an easy and convenient way of getting white goods, furniture and the nicest electronic goods. That’s a worthy aim, but is this method really the best one? And can that really be justified given the extortionate pricing policies?
Credit is debt. Debt is not something we should be encouraging those on low incomes (or no income) to take on. We have a town which has hit hard times. Our jobs market is limited and our population poor. We need to be helping those in need to help themselves. We need not for profit Christmas savings schemes, more accessible credit unions, and companies encouraged to set up here who have a more secure job structure. We need to offer ways of enabling people to save and encouraging them to understand the retail sector to allow them to find the best deals out there.
We now have a Money Shop, a Bright House and a brand new pawnbrokers in the town centre. These companies thrive on destitution and help create and continue the debt cycle in the lives of the most desperate and helpless. They will exploit our consumerist lifestyles to line their pockets without compunction, and we need to fight them every step of the way.
Folkestone deserves a better class of capitalist.
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist