Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.Today I caught up with some disturbing news on Twitter. The Siop Y Bont, the Welsh language magazine and bookshop in the Pontypridd arcade is to close down next month.
Now I don’t know the background to the closure, and I do feel guilty having avoided it in my last visit to the town, when my time was limited before watching a rugby game, but it is a great shop. Like all classic stores of it’s type it seemed disorganised. But then as you went through the place you discovered treasure after treasure. As a retail experience it was truly a pleasure. Here were people who loved the Welsh language and loved showing that love to you the customer.
It’s future closure though set me thinking. Obviously this is the most unscientific of surveys. Still since I came to Wales in 1997 there were four Welsh language shops that I was aware of. Now all these years later there is just one left in Whitchurch (Cardiff).
Now the enemies of the Welsh language will say this decline is just another example of that the native tongue is dying. It’s an easy argument, and of course wrong. It’s just part of the general shake-up of the high street mainly due to the internet. After all does all the store closures in Mothercare mean that childbirth is on the decline?
But the question does need to be asked what is the future of the Welsh language shop in this webby universe? Well in truth I don’t really know what the answer is because what no one knows what the future is going to bring to the world of shops as a whole. At the moment things just seem febrile with once mighty names going to the wall. The only certainty is the uncertainty.
For the moment two off the top of my head thoughts enter my brain. Probably people with more knowledge of the subject will shoot me down, and so they should. But here they are anyway.
1) The four Welsh language shops I mentioned were/are individual small businesses. Perhaps if remaining shops joined together as a cooperative it might help with economies of scale etc.
2) Perhaps in towns without a Welsh Language shop large supermarkets should be made to stock a small proportion of Welsh language books, CDs DVDs and magazines. Now note the italicised small in that suggestion, say a shelf or two. And it should be reviewed in say three years. But at least there would be a regular supply of Welsh language stock in mainstream outlets.
Putting the Welsh language in high streets is the easy statement. How is a much more difficult.
Until the next time.