In a community of around 5000 people we are blessed with a wide range of businesses and services. This includes supermarkets, hairdressers, specialist gift and furniture shops a vast array of bars, a good range of restaurants, and great builders, electricians and other trades people.

When we first came to Competa I was amazed that we were able to go into Portichuello, buy our white goods which were delivered and installed on the same day. Equally great is the service at TJ Autos, where I have gone in on occasions with a slight problem with the car and the guys just fix it there and then without charge. Name me a small community in the UK who can deliver that level of customer care!

The range of choice we enjoy is down to the commitment of people who work hard to keep the business community going. Running a business in Spain can be hellishly bureaucratic and takes up a lot of time behind the scenes. Employment law is also very complex in Spain. Crucially, all of these businesses provide vital and much needed employment for local people in tough times.

We are also blessed with a wide range of people who make amazing things happen in our community on a totally voluntary basis, raising much needed funds to help support unmet needs within our community, including the unique services provided by Cuedeca. There are too many to name, but the sheer energy and talent within our community never ceases to amaze.

For these reasons I am asking Grapevine readers to reflect in the New Year on why it makes sense to shop and buy locally whenever possible. Of course we all need a break from the village from time to time, but if we want our community to survive and thrive it is down to us as individuals to keep as much cash flowing within our own community.

It is easy to enjoy the range of choices we have in the village, but imagine a different scenario, where we had no Q8 to buy our petrol locally; no Sugar and Spice, offering a wide range of favourites; only two or three bars to choose from; only one hairdresser or just one supermarket. We would be a poorer community on many levels, and job opportunities would nosedive.

Many of our local business are also active supporters of social causes, offering prizes for fund raising, sponsoring events and helping those in our community who struggle on low incomes. Todo Papel may be a newsagents plus, but look how often they transform themselves into a box office. The Grapevine, a valuable source of local communication for us all is always on hand to provide free copy to support local fund raising events. So business in our community is about much more than a balance sheet or profit and loss account. It is about active participation as citizens.

I accept that things can be less costly on the coast on occasions, but also remember the cost of petrol involved plus the valuable time taken, whilst enlarging your green footprint! I am of course joking, but seriously, when thinking about using your purchasing power, do remember that many small communities in Europe have withered on the vine during recession. Thinking local, acting local and, wherever possible, spending local makes sense.

Ray Rowden

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