Going yesterday to see my oldest sister whose husband is in a nearby NHS hospital, made me appreciate the need for more individual non-chain run shops and cafes in English towns, villages and cities.
Some years ago there was only a single coffee shop in the whole of Wimbledon Village. The coffee at that establishment was good but the cafe was so small, that finding a seat there was usually impossible. At that time, drinking coffee was exceptional as most British people quaffed huge amounts of tea. Tea drinking at least of the traditional black tea-leaf variety (usually still alas in tea bags) has been on the decline in this country for years.
That original Wimbledon Village coffee shop has long since closed but many more cafes have opened there.
When coffee drinking began to become more popular, a Seattle House coffee shop opened in Wimbledon Village. Probably that was part of an American chain but being new to the UK, the Seattle Coffee House seemed to be almost an individual non-chain coffee shop. Sadly a year or two later it was taken over by Starbucks, which of course is a well known vast American chain. My own views of this were echoed much later, when upon visiting Seattle in the USA and looking for an early morning cup of coffee, a local directed me to a Seattle Coffee House in the town and warned me to avoid its Starbucks rival, which in the circumstances was rather amusing.
Oldest sister and myself made our way to her locally owned and run coffee shop and enjoyed coffee and a sandwich there, before visiting her husband.
The previously UK owned chain of coffee shops called Costa Coffee, was sold a few months back to another USA monolith Coca Cola for £3.9bn, which perhaps illustrates how huge coffee drinking and the profits it makes in the UK, have become.
I for one however will be continuing to attempt to avoid coffee shops owned or run by monolithic companies.