Hello out there,
How are you doing? Below is an update on how things are for me at the moment.
Do you have a few minutes to spare?
I love my life and my job as a shopkeeper selling high quality ethical clothing, it feels great to not have my morals compromised by my working life and I happily give up things like long holidays and new cars to enjoy the easy routine of a leisurely breakfast, of walking to work and of being home shortly after five each day. After all, one cannot have it all.
However, I do still have bills to pay and at the moment it seems the wheels may be about to fall off my simple little life; things are very slow at the moment. It feels like a perfect storm and as I’m wondering what to do I thought I’d ask you a few questions to help me decide.
As things stand I am committed to stock purchases I have made for autumn and winter of this year and have two weeks to decide if I’m then going to buy in for next spring/summer. Quite frankly, I’m not sure there’s any point. One of the main aims in setting up the business was to be a useful local shop and I’m not sure I’m useful anymore. The brands that I sell are now more widely available and I wonder if you prefer to buy direct from the brands own stores or from bigger shops where you have more choice.
Am I a useful shop for you?
Since moving out of town I have had to work much harder to achieve turnover and until February of this year things were going o.k. Sales have since dropped off a cliff. My first thought was to maybe move back into Hebden Bridge, and that is still an option, but it would be expensive and having canvassed opinion from those still trading in town I am not hearing much to encourage me.
Are you shopping in Hebden Bridge (or on your local high street)?
Want to come into business with me to create a bigger, more fabulous, shop in Hebden Bridge?
It would be easy to blame my downturn on the traffic lights on Burnley Road and they have definitely made a difference. I completely understand that risking a forty minute round trip to travel the two miles over here is, to say the least, off-putting. Having survived two floods it would be cruel irony to be shut down by the engineering works though I accept, of course, that the works are necessary and flood prevention is more essential for the future of the area than the survival of a small clothes shop.
Have you considered coming to the shop but been put off by the traffic?
Have you considered a shopping trip to Hebden Bridge but been put off by the traffic?
Do you know I offer free delivery to those who arrive on foot or bicycle?
Or that I can bring things to the little shop (in Hebden) for you to try on?
There is also a much bigger picture here; it is not just my in-store sales that are slow but also my on-line and even Ebay sales. It was these other selling platforms that I’d hoped would shield me from any future local problems but I am receiving communications from independents around the country telling sad tales of poor sales and the news is littered with stories about bigger players shutting shops or experiencing difficulties. I have also spoken to various people who have businesses outside of retail and many of them are saying it’s been a particularly difficult three months. The country has been in recession of one kind or another for the eleven years I have been doing this and I have managed. We now also have Brexit to negotiate.
Do you think we are in for some kind of major economic meltdown?
Has it begun but is not being reported?
A theory I have heard on the radio is that the effects of extended austerity are filtering slowly from the largest down to the smallest purchases and up to the relatively wealthy from the already poor because recent wage rises have done very little to catch up with the much inflated cost of living that has occurred over the last few years. So, if it’s not too personal a question:
Are you particularly skint at the moment ?
Wayne Hemingway of Red Or Dead came up with the more positive theory that people are no longer buying things to make themselves feel better - retail therapy - they have become more mindful about the environmental impact of their purchases and are preferring to spend their money on social and experiential things like meals out, sports classes and holidays.
Are you making an effort to consume fewer ‘things’ for environmental reasons?
If so, this is commendable, and I applaud you. One of the things I am considering is to re-structure the business with less stock but to include a repair service.
Would a repair service be useful to you?
Maybe it’s just time for me to leave my comfort zone, start a new chapter, even get a job (I believe there is going to be plenty of fruit picking positions coming up) or maybe I’ll join an ashram. Weirdly I feel less scared of this than I would have imagined - perhaps the effects of early career burnout have finally worn off, or it could be the new exercise regime (yoga and circuit training) keeping me calm or maybe it’s my *CBD oil working its magic.
So last question
Got any work going starting January next year?
Whatever your thoughts I’d be glad to hear them, and you don’t need to spare my feelings, I may be all at sea but I’m also feeling pretty sanguine in my rocky little boat.
* for more information about our local supplier of CBD oil go to https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=%2Fthetonictribe