What a week it’s been! First Clock Handyman (Clock's) had a call by from The One Show preparing for a feature on #MyHighStreet. First I knew of it was when Clock's team told me someone had called in and said our customers could win £100 when they used VISA. Ok so now I heard “Visa” want people to use plastic more. Then I see on Facebook Amelia has been interviewed by a guy from the One Show. The intrigue grows. Next I hear Victoria Road and Bar Street have been nominated for a national award as High Street of the year. At this point it sounds like two streets in Scarborough have to compete against each other #notgood!
Then on the same day the news is awash with the revelation that Amazon's shareholders can rejoice as the company will pay less tax despite showing ever increasing profits, Amelia appears in Clocks with a reporter. Microphone in hand she is ready to record my views on the nomination. I start by saying I’m shocked and delighted and off I go on how wonderful it would be if we won....oops the mic wasn’t on! Second go, mic back in face “how shocked were you....?” So now I’m committed to the shocked I have to pace my response to explain. I think I responded to the questions with honesty and enthusiasm for both retail and Scarborough. A few ‘background’ sound recordings, key cutting and paint mixing later, it’s done. All that’s left is me wondering how it will get edited and how much will end up brutally abandoned, in a quest to deliver sensational ‘fake news’ on the cutting room floor.
I’m also mindful of the thing I said off mic: that we are closing our second shop due to property owner’s big disruptive plans, that end up being unfulfilled due to lack of investments by the big boys and the trail of charity shops preceding our quirky store. The charity shops have the advantage of subsidised over heads and donated staff time and goods. It’s hard to sell with a markup to cover costs when the shops around you are on a totally different playing field!
So now the interviews have all been broadcast and the public response by text, email, and phone in all noted and absorbed, here’s my take and opinion. It’s warts and all I make no apologies as the radio broadcast contributions was brutal some things need to be aired.
I have stood so many days and heard the following time after time:-
- It’s lovely in here I could buy everything, I just don’t want to carry it about with me ... buys nothing. Hmm
- I really like that, such and such would love it... I’ll get it on line so I don’t have to carry it home. Hmm
- I really want that I’ll be back, when I get paid. For a small deposit we can put it to one side for you. It’s ok Calls back a few days later. Oh has it gone. Hmm
- You had a such and such I the window, on the shelf, by the till. I can’t see it but I’d like it. Can’t find it/must have sold it. “But I wanted it”. Hmm
- I love this shop. We came here last year, we don’t see shops like this in our town any more. Buys nothing!. Hmm
I could go on.
Then there’s this... it’s business! At Clock Handyman, on Victoria Road, we have tried to complement not compete with our neighbouring shops. We aim to offer the shopper a great shopping experience in one street. We get on with our neighbouring businesses. We like them, we support them and we are friends with them. Well all apart from one who posted under one of my posts that they were cheaper. Poor show in my opinion. However we were never prepared for the vitriol of a business owner who didn’t like us moving into his area and it threw us right off track, damaged our relationship with suppliers, upset staff with horrible comments on social media. So horrible were his comments friends private messaged us to warn us before ‘screenshotting’ them to me. I always, always asked whether a company was already dealing with another business and only if they were not did we engage with them. I was shocked some companies checked their records and got it wrong which led to us sometimes overlapping, leading to bad feeling between businesses and duplicates offering on the high street.
If the high street is to survive more business both on the high street and those that supply the retailer need to work harder to promote the benefits of the goods they see and feel and smell. At the moment brand names offer reliable products, but you pay for their investment in brand recognition. As a shop we get shop lifters, goods get damaged by shoppers, packets get opened, and for all this we pay high rent, business rates, staff wages (above minimum rates) we provide Tourist Information Centre information, provide cover in the rain, we clean up the dog sh*t ourside our dog, we replace broken windows, a centre where people bump into other people and start conversations, we pay our taxes and we do our best to support the local community with football shirt sponsorship and advertising at sports grounds. We donate stock to raffles, tombolas, charity events. We are open 7 days a week and due to laws not applicable to the internet, we can only trade for 6 hours on a sunday, the government wants you to pay for the plastic bags we want to give you yet the packaging on the internet goods is mindless!. It's endless, its ridiculous and unless something changes, the shop you once visited will be only a memory.