Archives for posts with tag: Retail

I was visiting my mother the other day. She lives in a small town on the edge of Bristol in England, with a lovely high street of the usual shops and cafes you might expect to find.

At about 5pm on the Saturday I decided I would wander 5 or 10 minutes up to the high street to get a card and small gift. I know I was leaving it late, but I figured that they would close at 5:30 so I would be fine.

The shop I had my eye on closed at 5:15pm, according to the sign. What kind of shop closes at 5:15? It’s neither one thing nor the other. I reasoned that they probably said 5:15pm so they serve their straggling customers by 5:30 and close at the ‘normal’ time.

I tried the door. I was exactly 5:12pm on my phone. It was closed, and 2 prissy ladies were beavering away at the till. I knocked on the window. ‘Closed’, they signed. I pointed at my phone and their sign and walked off in disgust.

It drives me mad, that kind of thing. If you say you’re closing at 5:15, don’t close early. I went to my second choice shop, told them all about my experience – they closed at 5:30pm – spent my money there.

No wonder the high street is dying a slow death. Still focused on itself, and not us.

We’ve all heard the horror stories and domesday predictions about the death of the High Street, as shoppers move out of town to the malls, or into their homes to their computer, or right where they are via their mobile phones, tablets, phablets and any other form factor you can imagine. Except that is, the move away from the quaint corner shop.

In Europe we still have corner shops, loads of them.

The corner shop I’m thinking of is in the small town I live in (a village by England standards). It’s not quite on the corner, but it’s next to 2 public houses, as you would expect in Ireland. It’s a health food shop. Ironic, given its location, but there you are.

Now if we’re in the very big city we can go onto a colossal online marketplace and get the thing we need delivered within an hour, for a premium, or the next day for probably next-to-nothing extra. But most of us aren’t in the very big city.

My wife asked me to pick up something for her during my lunch break the other day, since I was doing a couple of other errands. She was in a city and the vast supermarket she visited didn’t have said item. I went into the health food store and asked for the item. It has quite a long title to it, but even before I’d finished articulating its name the lady had pulled it from the shelf next to her till and it was ready for purchase. I was out in 120 seconds, the amount of time it takes to properly pour a pint of the black stuff.

This why the corner shop will never die. They are often specialist providers. You can always find staff to ask something. They can give you a knowledgeable and immediate answer the vast majority of the time. They usually smile and are grateful for your business. And, you are done in a matter of minutes.

In certain circumstances, then, the corner shop is alive and well and still a great retail experience.