There’s lots written about supporting local and independent businesses, particularly on the food front. And when you think that two thirds of food sold in the UK is sold through the supermarkets, and of the many food scandals of 2013, then I can most definitely understand the appeal.
But being a local food store isn’t enough, it doesn’t give the store the right to expect us in our droves to beat the path to their door. And then complain when we don’t turn up, or when we spend some of our money in the supermarkets class us as traitors to the cause. But if they don’t try to level the playing field where they can, then we can hardly be blamed for having make alternative choices occasionally.
I was thinking of some local businesses that I would frequent more. One I would definitely shop at more, never had a bad experience from there. And they’re open early every day. Which is probably great if you’re a local restaurant getting ready for service. But then they close at 5pm. And are not open on a Sunday. Or a Monday.
Or a lovely small deli and cafe that is perfect for after school coffees, even early tea. Except they close at 4.30 every day they are open, except a Friday. Oh, and they don’t open on a Sunday.
Or a delivery scheme that can’t be guaranteed to turn up.
Now I get the first two. If you want to make a lifestyle choice to run short hours then that’s fine, but it’s a choice you make. Opening hours are generally your choice, and you could choose to compete more with the big boys on this one. That said, there are amazing stores like Mmm and Glug in Newcastle who I am sure would open on a Sunday, but they can’t because of the restrictions of the location they are in.
Not turning up, or having sloppy approaches to customer care, is unforgiveable in any retailer, large or small. Eventually customers run out of patience, and there is always another choice they can make. And they will.
God knows, I know retail is hard work, I’ve worked in it most of my adult life. But it is never a case of build it and they will come. Or they might come once. But it’s up to you to give them reasons to come back regularly. Make the choice a no brainer for them. Then they will come. Or choose not to, and they won’t. No matter how local you are.
Because we all have choices.
Photo by Steve Rhodes on Flickr.