Two recent experiences reminded me that when it comes to true passion and service, you cannot beat the independent retailer.
At Scottish convenience chain Botterills' 50th anniversary gala dinner last week, the commitment of both head office and store staff to the family firm was evident in everyone I spoke to. And where else would the chairman and MD know everyone personally and show obvious pride and delight in their achievements?
This was brought home to me in a pub the other day. A man turned to me and said: "I used to sell you your newspaper." It was the owner of a c-store I regularly visited before moving. Despite serving many customers, he had recognised me before I did him.
So how great to see a record 35,000 store owners getting involved in last week's National Independents' Day. Such initiatives are important to remind people there is an alternative to the big supermarkets. More importantly, it's local - and cares about you as a person, not just as a shopper. In today's faceless society, this counts for much.