Liquor frustrations

Bill Griffin, Fish Hoek

I confess to a feeling of deep disappointment and loss at the granting of a liquor licence for Fish Hoek, finding it sad indeed the way Pick n Pay has consistently and aggressively chosen the lower road of gain above worth, of a questionable social norm above a value long cherished by many in Fish Hoek for many years.

I guess Pick n Pay were always in with a good chance of winning their legal battle over the interpretation of a title deed dating back 200 years. But has justice truly been done in terms of the need (as opposed to the wants) of the broader community?

The greater the promotion of alcohol, the more its consumption made to look attractive, surely the greater the incidence of it’s abuse. And we all know what that abuse leads to.

The co-owner of our local Pick n Pay, Gary Williams, is quoted in “Dry or wet debate,” (Echo August 16, 20180 as saying: “We strive to provide a quality service that caters to all the residents of Fish Hoek.”

Well, his comment set me thinking about that quality of service (little known at the heart of business in general), which dares to rate service even above profit.

Raymond Ackerman, in fact, has bearing upon this in his book Hearing the Grasshoppers Jump, where he speaks of “social responsibility and people” as being essential legs of Pick n Pay’s operation. Continuing, he says: “Not operating for maximisation of profit, Pick n Pay became the largest food retailer in South Africa. In plain English, the more effectively we pursued our core policies under the ‘people and social responsibility’ legs, the more we gained.”

For sure, the gain he speaks of sits squarely in the profit column – a gain easily measured at the cash till.

But there is a gain of another grade, not so easily measured, and more substantial and lasting by far (and I think Mr Ackerman would agree),which lies just below the surface in what he is saying.

The gain I speak of comes through real service and deals with the upliftment of the quality of community life, with a dignity and the kind of respect that simply do not come through the sale of products known to have degraded many a life.

Cultivating the betterment of society will come about only as people of vision and passion come together in this endeavour.

Especially, do we need leaders in business like those of Pick n Pay to concern themselves in the very real issues facing us.

And the way forward will not be helped by opening another liquor outlet.

Let me fly my kite high.

What an impact and what an influential statement would be made if Pick n Pay were to announce they were to forgo the opportunity to open their proposed outlet? But would you be up to that, Pick n Pay?

The plaintive cry of 14-year-old Jessie Ace, (“Say no to the bottle store,” Echo, October 4, 2018), rings in my ear even now: “I am writing to you to beg you not to put a bottle store in our town of Fish Hoek… Please hear me.”