Image by jmcknight via FlickrA little contretemps has occurred in the quiet world of Chiottes la Gare....like a puppy crapping in a discreet corner and about as welcome when discovered.
In the well regulated Hexagon that is France, certain things are sacred...monopolies, for example.
You can't qualify as a notaire and set up where you like. This would give rise to the risk of competition to other established notaires.
I really can't see where the worry would be from the clients' viewpoint....the course of studies followed by notaires seems to include - apart from the vital art of turning pages on a document for the client to initial - an element best described as professional procrastination.
Professional as in being paid to procrastinate.
Clearly, established notaires might well object to another professional procrastinator turning up in the area...there's a risk to the annual purchase of the new car, after all....and, as in the Hexagon it is the view of the monopoly holders which counts - with only one exception - the client is thus deprived of choice.
Same thing with taxi and ambulance firms. Taxis Merdiques have got their area sewn up and will brook no competition.
But at Chiottes la Gare it is chemists' shops.
Chemists too have monopolies.
You go to the doctor for your corns, emerge with a prescription for enough stuff to start up a health service in a third world country and set off to the chemist to have it packed into the lorry you will need to carry it away.
'The' chemist...not 'a' chemist. The one with the monopoly for the area.
But this guaranteed custom was never enough for the chemist to lead la dolce vita.....there had to be lines of business other than prescription pills and potions to finance the winter ski break and the summer month in Reunion.
Waiting in line....as Madame Goupil described the nature of the symptoms that had led her to consult the doctor, with sympathetic interjections by the chemist, his assistant and the other clients ...you had the opportunity to appreciate the range of goods on offer....the 'parapharmacy' lines.
Any amount of help was available for that most French of ailments 'heavy legs' ....quite apart from shampoo, stuff for dandruff contracted by using same, herbal supplements, soap, and anti ageing formulas whose price was guaranteed to put years on you just by looking at it.
The range could be vast.....and you had plenty of time to be tempted to buy as by now Madame Goupil would be into the genetic origins of her problems...vocally supported by those old enough to remember the indifferent health of her Aunt Leonie.
Chiottes la Gare has two supermarkets on the periphery...one over the border in the next commune as the Chiottes council of the time didn't want it setting up in town as providing competition to established businesses.
Once they had discovered that even in the next commune it was quite capable of knocking out any and every business, they decided that they had better have one on their own territory to be able to cop it for local taxes.
Thus two supermarkets, one closer than the other to the town centre.
Chiottes la Gare has more than two chemists....as, given the size of the place more have been authorised by the appropriate authorities.
It should have had one less, but the gentleman in question is the son of the man who at the time was maire of the town and senator for the department, so the protests by the existing monopoly holders went by the board.
This is the exception referred to above. String pulling by those who know where the bodies are buried.
One of the Chiottes chemists decided to close up the shop situated in the old town, stating 'economic reasons'.
These may be understood to be the enormous taxes imposed by the Chiottes council on businesses in the area over the years together with the reluctance of even established customers to enter an area where scum from Paris snort coke and patrol the streets with their pitbulls when emerging in the late afternoon from the 'social housing' which is what the wonderful historic buildings of the centre have become.
Why not buy your corn plasters in the morning?
You might slip up on the dog turds.
So, the said chemist thought it a good idea to install the business alongside the nearer supermarket, which was about to expand. Clients could do their shopping and pick up the pills at the same time.
But the said chemist did not think fit to discuss the idea with the supermarket franchisee...who had ideas of his own.
So the shop was built alongside the supermarket.....but could not be accessed from the supermarket car park....the franchisee alleging that this would involve danger to his customers as they would have to cross the road used by delivery lorries.
Let no one even think for one moment that he changed the proposed layout...
Parapharmacy lines were always a very profitable affair and now that minor cuts have been made to the list of snake oil cure alls previously available on the public health service, those profits are even more valuable than before, so you can imagine the reaction of the chemist to the news that part of the supermarket's expansion involved setting up a vast parapharmacy section.....
A bit more than 'Zut, alors!' I reckon...
The egg basket would have been looking a bit fragile....
The chemist defiantly states that only chemists can run parapharmacy goods....nothing to do with their monopoly, but down to the trust people have in their advice.
The chemist recalled that the other supermarket tried a parapharmacy section years ago and it only lasted a short while....so this new one is also doomed.
Up to a point, Lord Copper.
Times have changed from the days when people really believed that they had better service and quality from individual shopkeepers - though ironically that may now be the situation - and like doing all their shopping in one place.
Given the current belt tightening all round, cheaper prices are appreciated as well.
I suspect that the supermarket parapharmacy section will do well.
I don't think the chemist has too much to worry about either.
The chemist for whom an exception was made has applied to set up a satellite business....alongside the same supermarket.
Having, one supposes, kept the franchisee in the picture.
Clearly he imagines that the extra trade from the supermarket clients will outweigh the effects of their parapharmacy.
However, times have changed.
His father has now retired from politics and is occupied in manoeuvres to avoid regurgitating some of his ill gotten gains......
Son and chemist, although on the Chiottes council, is in opposition and even if his party win next time round a career politician is slated to be maire....
Thus no one in the appropriate authority can see any reason for making another exception and have told him that such a subsidiary would be too far from his current shop to qualify as a satellite.
The chemists can get on with it....I gave up on them long ago....
Ever since they stopped selling Baume de Peru and the Elixir de l'Abbe Perdrigeon....