During one of Drapers’ recent stories, in which we spoke, as we often do, to independent retailers on the topics most affecting them, the owner of one menswear store imparted some of his retail wisdom.
To paraphrase, he said: “If my business fails, it’s not because of business rates, it’s not because of online and it’s not because of the election. If my business fails, it’s because of me.”
While we are all aware of the tough and often challenging climate facing many independents today, I found this frank assessment refreshing. And over the past couple of weeks, while out visiting indies as part of the judging process for the Drapers Independent Awards, I have found this get-up-and-go approach reflected by many small business owners.
For those doing well despite harsh times - powering through austerity, the growing cost of owning a store and narrowing margins - the successful strategy does not involve waiting for the customer to come in, but rather get them in yourself. In 2014, 15,416 independents shut up shop for good according to the Local Data Company and British Independent Retailers Association. During the same year 15,762 opened - so it seems that more are getting it right (or at least giving it a go) than not.
Those I visited all deserve to be honoured for their efforts. I met one owner who had launched into personal shopping, creating two dedicated areas with champagne at the ready. I came across another who recognised thatm for their target market, it’s all about online, and has made significant investment to be able to deliver this. A further example involved a complete store overhaul, to reflect the design-driven shopper that walks through the door.
While we at Drapers will be at the forefront of any picket line demanding reform of the rates system and back independents in their call for more support, I can’t help but think this own brand of enthusiasm would do far more good for business and provide a greater return.
What are your thoughts?
- Do you agree the success of a business is down to the efforts of the owner?
- What do you do/what do you want to be seen done by stores to entice shoppers?
- Does this approach work for every store?
Leave your comments below…