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Buying Irish requires a bit of work

In the last while, I wrote a couple of posts about Buying Irish manufactured goods and how it’s importance and high profile during the difficult period the 1980’s doesn’t seem to be repeated these days. It was always highlighted that by Buying Irish in the 1980’s, we’d safeguard Irish jobs – obviously something we need again these days.

But it’s hard to Buy Irish these days. This is probably understandable given the way Ireland has moved from a manufacturing to a “knowledge” and services based economy. As one reader pointed out in an e-mail, “it’s impossible these days to find many Irish made products in most shops”. This is definitely the case – as I pointed out previously, a recent shopping outing in Dunnes Stores lead to about 1/3rd being Irish produce with the majority being fresh food produce.

So what can we do if we can’t buy Irish manufactured products? Well, we could buy from Irish service providers and retailers when there’s a choice available.

  • Grocery Shopping – Buy from Dunnes Stores* or Superquinn instead of Tesco, Aldi or Lidl.
  • Books – Buy from Hughes & Hughes or Easons instead of Waterstones or Hoggis Figgis.
  • Music & DVDs – Buy from Golden Discs rather than HMV.
  • Insurance – Use FBD or Quinn Direct instead of Axa or Hibernian.
  • Department Store shopping – Visit Clearys or Arnotts rather than Debenhams or Marks & Spencers.
  • Mobile Phones – Use Meteor instead of Vodafone, O2, Three or Tesco Mobile.
  • Fast Food – Visit fast food at Supermacs instead of Burger King or McDonalds or KFC.
  • Coffee and sandwiches – Visit Insomnia or Cafe Sol instead of Starbucks.
  • Phones and MP3 players – Shop at the 3G Store instead of the Carphone Warehouse.
  • Kids Toys – Shop at Smyths Toys or Byrnes World of Wonder rather than from Argos.
  • Sports goods – Buy from Elverys, Lifestyle or Champion Sports instead of JJB Sports or Footlocker.
  • Electronics / electrical items – Shop at Power City or DID instead of PC World or Dixons / Currys.
  • DIY Products – Shop in Woodies or Atlantic Homecare instead of at B&Q or Homebase.
  • Pharmacy / toiletry items  – Shop in Unicare or Sam McCauley rather than from Boots.
  • Video games – Shop in Smyths Toys or Byrnes World of Wonder rather than Game or HMV.

Of course, it might be even better for us if we buy from our locally owned retailers in our own areas. I guess there’s loads more situations where we could chose to buy our items from an Irish retailer rather than a foreign one. What have I missed? Is there any reason why we wouldn’t do this?

* Post originally conceived prior to rumours of Dunnes Stores being purchased by Asda / Walmart.

9 comments On Buying Irish requires a bit of work

  • The problem with doing this though is that we are discouraging competition. Why on earth would I buy 100g asparagus at Dunnes for €3.99 when I can get 270g at Aldi for €1.79? If we keep shopping at “Irish” retailers, we are effectively voting with our Euro and I will not do that. If Aldi and Lidl can run an effective and profitable business in our country and still keep prices low, there is no reason Irish businesses shouldn’t be able to do the same.

    I can walk into Tesco and within a minute of being in the shop could point out 10 different ways they could save thousands.

    I will not buy Irish if it means being ripped off. If we are to encourage Irish businesses to be competitive we must vote with our wallets.

  • as higlighted above, buying irish means that retailers and vendors become less efficient if they know people will buy from them because they’re irish.
    the other real problem with this is that it is a form of protectionism ( which has been proven to not work). If our community starts buying locally, other communities will see this and start buying locally too. if everyone buys locall produce Ireland will loose massively from a fall in sales of irish goods abroad

  • The problem with this idea is that often the Irish retailers are impossibly bad compared to their competition.

    I’m sick of Golden Discs as the only music shops in many centres. They only stock chart singles and a dreadful selection of discounted CDs, and more than half the shop is given over to DVDs anyway. It’s not a music retailer. If I want CDs, I *have* to go to Amazon.

    Easons instead of Hoggis Figgis? Are you mad? Often my only real reason for travelling to Dublin is a visit to Hoggis Figgis. That bookshop is a pleasure. Otherwise, I’m afraid, it’s Amazon again to get the selection.

    Ditto with anything vs PC World, although again they lose out to dabs.com.

    In the end, consumers go where the prices are cheapest, the range the widest, the quality the highest and the experience the nicest. Unless Irish-owned retailers are up to the challenge, they’re going to lose out.

    And I’d love to shop in superquinn, one of the Irish few retailers that does beat its competition (except on price) but the nearest one to Cork is Waterford!

  • With respect to books, DVDs two book stores which I understand are Irish-owned.

    Vibes n’ Scribes in Cork have (I believe) two outlets in the city. Quality bookshop. One of them sell lots of second hand books and hard to find DVDs and music.


    The other, of course, is Chapters, a massive-sized independent bookstore in Parnell Street, Dublin which also sells comics, DVDs, music both new and secondhand. I was only there yesterday 🙂


  • Many thanks for all your comments folks.

    I suppose I should have been clearer that my thinking was that when all other things were equal, that we should then chose the Irish shop where possible over a foreign.

    Given everything we’re trying to promote here on ValueIreland.com with regards to looking for value for money and quality of service, we definitely wouldn’t advocate ignoring those criteria just to shop at an Irish vs foreign store.

    @Deborah – I agree – we’ve always advocated voting with our feet (and Euro) when it comes to avoiding those that try to rip us off. Given some of the other posts here, it seems that the harsh reality for Irish retailers is going to be that they, and not their foreign competitors, are the ones ripping us off and will be the ones to suffer.

    @annonymous – To a certain extent you’re correct, but we’ve also seen the situations where Irish manufacturers compete better on price abroad than they do back home. Witness cheaper Irish whiskey and so on abroad than it is here.

    @JamieLawerence – I definitely hear you on the Golden Discs argument. I’ve commented here before on their poor selection. And as for Hoggis Figgis, I work not far from that shop and it’s all I can do not to pop in at lunch times or after work to make the odd purchase.
    When I was younger, and coming to Dublin from the country, there was no better treat than going to Superquinn in Blackrock. Where I live now, there’s the choice of Dunnes, Tesco and Superquinn – yet the Superquinn has to be the dirtiest shoddiest supermarket I’ve seen anywhere. No where ever before have I seen a drunk peeing in the aisle of a supermarket. That leaves Dunnes for me.

    @Philip Murphy – thanks for your two examples. They’re more what I was alluding to with regards local shops – once off good stores in our areas, rather than even Irish chains.
    Similar to those, I used to enjoy Dubray books in Blackrock, and their store on Grafton Street is good to. There’s also a cracking book store (atmosphere wise rather than selection unfortunately) in Waterford whose name escapes me for the moment.

    Overall, I suppose what we’re seeing here is that Irish retailers and service providers aren’t making it very easy for us to support them in the face of foreign (or online) competitors.

  • your point about protecting irish jobs is flawed, after all the “non irish” retailers employ irish workers as well and in their sector are probably the biggest, ie HMV probably employ more staff than golden discs, tesco more than dunnes etc. if we were to boycott these retailers and they were to leave Ireland, the choice on the high street is lessened therefore we all pay more and overall MORE jobloss, you should think this type of thing through beore making non sensical arguments.

  • @anon – Maybe you could have declared your interest before attacking what you call “non sensical arguments”?

    Given that you work for HMV in the UK (based in Oxford from your IP address) I can see how you might be worried by any mention of a boycott.

    However, if you re-read my post, you’ll see I didn’t mention a boycott.

    I gave some possible alternatives to only buying from non-Irish retailers – but I also asked what the problems might be with doing that.

    And that’s what most people have contributed – problems with only buying from Irish retailers.

    But thanks for your comment also.

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  • I’m old enough to remember the Guaranteed Irish campaign of the eighties, and one thing we were taught (yes, we were taught about buying Irish in school!) was to Buy Irish produced products wherever possible, but only if the item was of the same or better quality, and the same or cheaper price.

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