Time to Boycott SSG?

Has the time come to boycott the SSG bookshops?

Thus far I have resisted an outright call for a boycott, simply because I have not wanted to risk damage to the jobs and livelihoods of those who, against the odds, have somehow managed to keep on working under the Brewers’ regime.

Back in December 2006 Dave Walker summed this up well when Joe, one of his respondents, suggested a boycott:

I think we should continue to support SPCK shops for the following reasons:

  • I think the good the shops and the books sold through them do outweighs the strange and dubious objectives of the owners.
  • I want to support the staff, some of whom I know.
  • I suspect that once this chain is gone it really is gone and I can’t see anything similar replacing it. At least if we continue to support SPCK there remains the chance that it will be taken over by someone we are able to support more wholeheartedly.

That was then, however; this is now. Reports indicate that neither staff nor suppliers are being paid: so where is the money entering those few shops that are still trading going?

Have we reached the point where any money paid to buy goods from these shops can no longer be regarded as supporting either the beleaguered staff or the shops’ suppliers but must rather be seen as simply propping up a thoroughly discredited and disreputable regime? Has the point finally come when so much damage has been done by the Brewers themselves that this call must now be made?

Calls to boycott have already been issued: Mark Tiddy posted his Boycott The SSG (SPCK) a couple of months ago (his post is dated 2006 due to a bug in his blogging software), and, more recently, this comment from Maggi Dawn echoes something of my own feelings:

While in the short term in might be harsh for those who have been offered “employment” by these new companies there is one very simple response that the Christian community can make to these events – resolve not to buy anything from these new shops and encourage others to boycott. We have plenty of alternatives run by people and companies of integrity, who for all their difficulties in a tricky market at least treat their staff with justice. The Church hierarchies can also make sure that no further deals are done with SSG about buildings etc – with luck they might just get the message and return to the US before they do more damage to the reputation of Orthodox Christianity.

The time, surely, has come to say:

Boycott the SSG/ENC Bookshops!

— Phil Groom

(Updated 3/7/2008 to correct the date of Mark Tiddy’s call for a boycott: see comments below)

19 responses to “Time to Boycott SSG?

  1. justflyingkites

    Why should it be difficult to boycott SSG shops? There is not much you can buy from them anyway.

  2. I should just point out that actually I only set up the boycott about 2 months ago, the date is just a default date my blogging software put on there. My blog as it is currently set up has only been around since december…prior to that I used blogger.

    The boycott was only set up because of the way staff have been treated and followed the closure of a lot of shops.

    It’s important to remember though if you’re boycotting a shop to let the company know, so if you do be sure to write to the brewers, secondly make sure you still support Christian retailers even if that’s odering online using someone like Wesley Owen.

  3. Pauline Edwards

    I agree, what a great idea. The Brewers put money, above everyone and everything, so lets hit back where its going to hurt most, there pockets. They have lined there pockets, with my wages, and all the other workers, and have no regard for putting us in a mess. How about putting an online petition to boycotting there shops, then email them with the petition, to let them know people in the uk will not be treated like this, they will know what the uk people think, about there tactics

  4. justflyingkites

    Pauline has a point.

  5. Boko Fittleworth

    Actually, even when I was still working at SPCK, (up to November last year) I wouldn’t have recommended people to shop there.

    I’m not convinced that money is what motivates the Brewers. If it is they’re incredibly incompetent.

  6. St Stephen the Great motivates the Brewers. Nothing else.

  7. In that case they have a strange way of showing their respect for St Stephen.

  8. What a great idea! Boycott! How very Christian of you.

  9. Phelim McIntyre

    Mark Brewer – in the UK we have a saying. It is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Your comment is an example of this. The directors/trustees of St Stpehen the Great, and now ENC Shop Management have acted in a totally unChristian way since before they took over the SPCK Bookshops. Not being honest about motives, not paying staff, verbally attacking staff, attempting to change contracts without negotiation, not paying suppliers…. I could go on. There is little left of SSG left to boycott because of the mismanagement of resources. Why since SSG went bankrupt have you refused to answer requests for interviews? Why has at least one court case SSG brought been thrown out because of it being a waste of time? People want answers – will you be Christian enough to give them?

  10. Phelim.

    You make mention of a court case ssg brought being thrown out of court – can you let us know to what you are referring as I, Like many others, haven’t heard of this and would be most interested to know more about it.


  11. Pauline Edwards

    Mark Brewer (hello mr kettle, this is mrs pot)
    I am glad you read this website, so you know what everybody thinks of you, its a shame you don’t respond so fast, to pay our wages. Have you read my letter to you yet? you have 28 days to give me my wages, if you don’t the judge will look favourbly on me , and i may get compensation as well. Thats uk law. The christian bit, read Exodus 20:8-11, Ephesians 4:15, 1 Timothy 6:18-19, Acts 2:45, Psalm 103:6. Lets play Bible chess Mr Brewer, and see who is the Christian here.

  12. Phelim McIntyre

    me – I am refering to the court case concerning Simon Mackay. I have been told by a number of people this case, brought by the Brewers, was thrown out. I am trying to get more details.

  13. Thank you for this Phelim, I was unaware of this case. I knew Mr Mackay had left to go to Foyles but did not know of the Brewers taking him to court over anything.
    Is there any chance you could provide me with a Court Case number or at least the dates and venue at which it took place?

  14. I know it’s not quite relevant but…
    Saw this book sitting on the inside window ledge of Cambridge, and found it on amazon.
    Unfortunatly, I forgot to take a picture while passing…but by gosh it tickled me.
    ISBN: 031603018X

  15. dogs-body you made my day. I haven’t read the book but the title and reviews…it tickled me.

  16. dogs-body — just to clarify: that is the inside window ledge of the former SPCK, Cambridge, where you spotted it? Please, please, somebody, get down there and take a photo!!

  17. The Exeter shop remained firmly closed today.

  18. Pingback: “these things” which Mark Brewer says I must stop doing « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

  19. Pingback: Sunday Sermon « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

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