Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Make mine a double, triple, local, independent steamer please. Thank you.

Okay, okay, I know my last post was all about Starbucks. And I promise that it was sheer, magical coincidence that took me to a lovely site not long afterwards run by the luscious folk at Delocator. I read all about it in this article on the Fox Business website.

Delocator is a great resource promoting independent coffee shops. It started in the US and has moved to the UK and now Canada.

Often these things are lovely ideas that are poorly executed, not so for Delocator. The site is nicely designed and easy to use. I punched my home postcode into the doodah and returned a gazillion results - see pic above.

Needless to say, I could hug it. I'm getting in touch with the team behind Delocator today to see if there's a way for us to work together. Watch this space.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Proverbial

I have so many opinions and theories about Starbucks that if time were not a precious issue, I could start a whole new blog about it. But alas, I am very time poor so my Starbucks wisdom will have to contain itself, at least to the contents of this Starbucks post.

When Starbucks first came to the UK they noticed that when the average Brit wanted coffee, they'd simply go to the nearest coffee shop. That's why they opened hundreds of little outlets on street corners up and down our British Isle. In America, coffee drinkers do it differently.

My friends in the US don't talk about going for coffee, they talk about going for Starbucks. The brand, it appeared, had reached Cellotape and Hoover levels. In marketing speak, Starbucks owns coffee across the pond. Or does it?

Today the news is peppered with talk of Starbucks making pretty big cuts across its US workforce. Reuters reported today that 600 jobs have gone at Starbucks. We knew they were in a bit of doodoo when they started talking about $2.50 coffee, now they're actually trialling the much-discussed brew in Seattle and Boston.

This article in the The Arizona Republic will tell you all about it. Please note the bit about Starbucks being undercut by McDonalds - tells you all you need to know about the average coffee-drinking Josie.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Whoop Whoop

Yesterday was a big day for the Unchained team. For some unknown yet utterly delicious reason, our stats spiked magnificently up to over 400 hits. Most exciting of all is that we haven't even started marketing the site yet. Bravo. Let's hope it keeps climbing skywards.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Giddyup. I'm on my high horse.

Now don't get me wrong, I like my curry deliveries and ready-made-flan cases as much as the next girl, but I am very disappointed to hear news that Delia Smith is a fan of unmentionable gross stuff like frozen char-grilled aubergine - from ASDA no less.

When I first arrived on these fine British shores I encountered and basked in the warm, maternal glow of her bread-filled oven. And now the light has been replaced with ready chopped ginger and cheese sauce in a jar.

While the Telegraph have filled their pages with news of exactly which products are about to enjoy 'the Delia effect', Zoe Williams at The Guardian seemed as bewildered by the aubergine thing as I am.

When Delia recommends big brand, multi-national varieties of ready made mashed potatoes, surely we have to ask ourselves what the world is coming to.

If there's anyone out there who'd rather keep it 'old school Delia' I've found a recipe in that has her doing the aubergine char-grilling herself, the results of which are shown in the picture at the top of this post - those were the days.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Good news: people are frustrated with shopping

Good news for little ol' us today in The Guardian.

According to the article people are growing more and more frustrated with shopping. "How can this be good news?" I hear you ask. Well, apparently people are using the internet to research products before they shop more than ever before.

Of course, our online guide is a perfect fit for this trend.

The second piece of good news cam from Tom Wood, a partner at internet usability consultancy Foolproof, who is quoted in the article. Tom (that clever chap) talks about something he calls 'consequence confidence' - a modern fear of buying without researching and suffering the consequences. As a result, shoppers need opinions and endorsements. They (we) need something to trust.

So it's jolly toasts all round that Unchained isn't just about independent shops, but the very best independent shops. We wouldn't attach our name to anything short of fabulous.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Don’t take it personally

This morning I spent hours phoning shops, trying to get hold of people to meet next week. I must admit, this is the part of Unchained that I’d been absolutely dreading. Becoming a ‘cold caller’ hasn’t ever exactly been an ambition of mine. Be that as it may, I dug deep and hit the phone, armed with a wealth of chat and inane quips to charm the person on the other side.

But for some reason that I couldn’t fathom, all I kept getting was answerphones.

There were, it seemed, no human beings to take my call.

Until eventually I called Blue Poppy Couture in Notting Hill and Charlotte told me that they were mostly out at London Fashion Week. Damn blast those fashionistas. Everyone I need to talk to is drinking bubbly and sharing air-kisses in a big tent.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Our first bottle of bubbly giveaway

There have been a lot of firsts over the past couple of weeks.

Our first business cards.
Our first office.

And now we've proudly pulled a name out of our hat to determine who has won the first bottle of bubbly.

Congratulations Alicia Renedo, you bubble swiller you.

Alicia recommended Leila's Shop to us and helped us with details to add to the shop's posting on the site.

Thanks Alicia, here's to shoppping.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Under £1 for a roast chicken and all the trimmings? Sounds like a foul dinner.

Today the news is full of talk about Tesco reducing the cost of its chickens by 60% in a special "bargain basement" offer which makes its birds the cheapest on the market.'

According the the article in the Guardian, Tesco are doing this so that shoppers on a budget 'can also benefit'.

Dr Lesley Lambert, director of research at Compassion in World Farming, is quoted in the article - and I couldn't have said it better myself - saying "Why doesn't Tesco drop their prices on their higher welfare products and make this affordable to people on all budgets? While Sainsbury's has committed to massive improvements in animal welfare, Tesco is showing its ethical credentials with this race to the bottom."

The sad truth is that with the big chains employing stunts like these, the price of well bred, free range birds won't be able to come down (which would be for everyone's benefit).

Fearnley-Whittingstall (who highlighted the real price of cheap chickens in his Channel4 series Chicken Run last month) commented in the Independent, saying: "I'm very surprised [at Tesco] because everybody is selling out of free-range chicken. To launch a £1.99 chicken is in direct contradiction to a statement [the chief executive] Sir Terry Leahy made last summer when he said he didn't want to get into a food price war on chicken."

If only the £1.99 birds remained unsold and uneaten on Tesco's shelves. That'd show them.