Caroline Hutchinson
Caroline Hutchinson

Kitchen's getting hotter

IS IT just me or does everyone want to make it quite clear they are not a Harvey hater?

Yesterday retail veteran Gerry Harvey warned of more failed businesses and job losses this year unless jittery Australians stop paying off their credit cards and forget about buying cheap goods online from overseas.

He made the comments while announcing a small drop in half-year profit at Harvey Norman and a sales slump of more than 6%.

I have a clear conscience because not only do I have credit card debt Mr Harvey would be more than proud of, I never buy anything online.

My husband has bought a few computer products and a little bit of second-hand stuff, but we both believe passionately in shopping locally, even at Harvey Norman.

I'm actually really drawn to Gerry Harvey, his big smiley face and take-no-prisoners attitude remind me of my Dad. He's a hard-working Australian and I know he has made a lot of other people rich along the way, but I just can't help having a dig.

Remember all the small businesses that used to be around? Remember local hardware shops, pharmacies owned by the man behind the counter, electrical shops with the name of a local family on the sign above the door, dress shops owned by the best-dressed lady in town and thriving corner stores?

They're almost all gone, driven to the wall by organisations like Harvey Norman.

The goal of corporations is to eliminate the competition. They have cornered small business through massive buying power, branding, loss leading and saturation marketing.

In their defence, they employ millions of Australians and generally keep consumers happy with fancy product, but in the meantime thousands of ex-small business owners have been turned into low-wage workers.

Mr Harvey, I'm sure you've had many dinner party conversations about driving the little guy out of town and I bet you've rationalised your position by imploring those who can't stand the heat to get out of the kitchen.

The internet is heating up your kitchen, Gerry. I'm not saying it's good for Australia, but the inevitability of people buying cheap goods online is looming just as large as you did over the bloke who owned the electrical shop in the town where I grew up.

It's a brave new world and all of us - even billionaires - are just going to have to do our best to survive it.

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