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Small businesses are often under appreciated.

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posted on Sep, 13 2013 @ 02:07 PM
As some of you may be aware, I am a locksmith. The business is run by my mother, who is a fastidious and talented organiser, and budgeter. Without her, the business would fold up faster than a video of an origami festival showcase being played at thirty two times the normal speed. My collegue and I handle the outside work, and all the elements of the job which require an affinity with metal working, carpentry, precision engineering, and so on.

To work for a small business in the economic climate which prevails just at the moment, is tricky at best, and we have gone through quite a bit trying to keep the thing going, a roof over our heads, stock on the shelves, and food in our bellies. Suffice to say, that being in business does not mean that a person is necessarily well off, and in our case, it certainly doesnt. Never having been particularly well off, when we opened our shop in 2005, we made a commitment to our principles as working class folk, and to our customers, to always offer the best service at the lowest possible price that we could afford, and we have always kept to that. We are still the cheapest for call outs in our area, and further to that, we are also the only shop our end of town that sells basic hardware items.

Screwdrivers, screws, hammers and nails, saws, blades, drill bits, sandpaper... we pretty much try to do as much of the things you could want from a hardware store as we can, while maintaining a sensible level of lock stock, door furniture, and accessories as we possibly can.

Our commitment to our customers, and to our local customers particularly, means that if a person lives within a mile of our store, and we are called out to them, they get a discount on the work we do. Now, its true that many people have appreciated this over the years, but they are outwieghed by the number of people who think we are trying to rip them off!! I imagine that they see the shop, and all the shiny metal stock, and the fact that we keep our shop in good nick (because thats what good retail sense demands, not because we are posh nobs), and assume that we are loaded to the gunnels, despite the fact that we are in fact living month to month, and despite that the businesses survival is no different than our own.

I think people forget that a small business does not have the buying power of the bigger stores, like B&Q and Homebase. Since people often use our store for hardware generally, rather than our specific focus as locksmiths, they come into our store and are agog at some of the prices of things like silicone sealants, WD40, Polyfila, and some of the other items we sell. They fail entirely to recall two things. They did not have to get in the car, and go into town, and park thier car, and THEN buy the item. They got it on thier doorstep, and if they sat there and did the mathematics, they would realise that in actual fact they would still be making a saving with us, simply by not getting in the car or on the bus or train, paying to travel to shop. The other thing they are forgetting by using the big stores rather than the small, is that the more they use our shop, the greater our own buying power becomes, and the better we can serve the community.

Sure, we are in business to provide ourselves with the means to continue to live. We are also in business to provide a service, to facilitate everyone having access to security equipment and materials so that they can feel secure in thier homes, and to provide a hub for those who wish to get thier home projects done, without having to go into town to do it. With other locksmiths only leaving the house if there is more than a hundred quid in it for them, you would have thought that people would appreciate knowing that there is a company out there who will come and get them back into thier house for sixty five quid, local rate. As it happens though, there is no such appreciation.

The fact is, that small businesses like ours cannot exist without community support, but equally, communities cannot exist without service providers. Symbiosis like this is the only way that things can ever work properly. Without the businesses to provide goods and services, the community would empty fast. Without the people, whose need fuels the demand for business, there would be no commerce. If we must live a life which revolves around the movement of largely meaningless tokens of currency, let us at least make sure that we use these tokens wisely, and understand not only the value of each and every pound, but also the value of the places where we spend them, and what they mean for the continuity of our communities.

If you are one of those people who always use your local businesses as much as possible, rather than going to big towns, or out of town megastores to do thier shopping, then please disregard this next part:


Remember that the businesses which serve communities rather than massive banking cartels, are run by people just like you, people who are simply trying to get by. We are not faceless corperate entities, whose sole intent is to strip every brass farthing from pockets and purses, the soul out of towns and villiages, or to increase the power of centralised organisations. We are part of the foundation of the nation, the county, the borough, the town, and we care about the places where we grow our businesses, and the people who live in them. Remember that, because if small businesses dissapear completely, you will miss us.

posted on Sep, 13 2013 @ 02:31 PM
reply to post by TrueBrit

I'm American, so I can't say I completely understand where you're coming from but supporting small business is great in any part of the world! You can often times find much higher quality foods, such as produce or restaurants! Much better customer service more personal business relationshils and support the people who actually live and work in your community.
I have a friend who owns a lock smith company and they do pretty good! Idk if its because of location maybe we need more security in America who knows.

posted on Sep, 13 2013 @ 03:10 PM
reply to post by TrueBrit

From reading what You've submitted (| watch 'Hustle' ) it reads as if You'd want a change of scenery that You'd be welcome here in The Colonies. What You are typing about is the local hardware guy (used to be Ace™ , TG&Y here) that You could count on to have what You needed. Now these folks want to save the .88¢ and they run down to ChinaMart™ and then bitch and moan about jobs shipping to Asia.. You're typing about "America" circa like 1990ish since then "customer service" is a misnomer.

My current ecological niche is Flori-DUH so imagine my chagrin when | 'need/want' crap to get taken care of? When You call 'Customer disService' after listening to some ditz's Zumba soundtrack/Muzak compilation, You are then required to figure out what "Marbles" is saying on the other end...

So,sew, | have nothing to offer but the following: Y'all are in it for the "right reasons" KNOW this and what You seek, You will indeed FIND. "Change Your thought or You'll get what You always got"


posted on Sep, 13 2013 @ 04:40 PM
reply to post by TrueBrit

I don't own my own business. I do, however, manage a business owned by another man. He has told me that he doesn't care about profit, he just doesn't want to have to fund us (it is his pet project while he is off making billions screwing over other people.....including the government).

Despite this, we turn a profit. People love coming to see us because of our novelty.

But my commitment has been: if its sold locally, we buy it there. If not, then we go to the national vendors. So things like hardware, I go to the local ACE hardware and get personal help and advice from my small business hardware store owner.

Truebrit, i could not agree with you more. God bless, and keep fighting for your business. You have diversified your product offering, showing that you are trying hard to make a run at it.
Be proud of that.

posted on Sep, 13 2013 @ 05:08 PM
if you look at the empty shops and premises in this country you will see how hard it is to make a living when the goverment hikes the business rates up all the time .

my mother owned a cafe until some years ago when tesco came to town and under cut everybody by a massive margin her earnings went down 80 % overnight all the small tea rooms went to the wall then they raised the prices through the roof .

last time i went in a mug of coffee went from 90p to £2.20 overnight and the food sucks the local hardware store where i live has been here since i can remember and they are scared said store is now expanding big time into hardware and other things .

my local high street is now full of charity shops and not much else i feel your pain i know what it is like to be a small business with overheads going through the roof and idiots willing to spend £5 on petrol to save £1 on a cheap product best of luck

posted on Sep, 13 2013 @ 05:35 PM
reply to post by TrueBrit

I run several small businesses including a family business. All of them are hurting and I have scaled them all back.

You are right that there is a symbiosis between your business and your community (local or otherwise). The problem is that with excessive regulation, taxes and red tape, everyone is less able to do anything. This includes simply not maintaining equipment and property (which will catch up to everyone soon) and a lack of time for the people who try to stay ahead of the boulder by working more.

I have chosen to work less and I think most people are toying with the idea. I accept no assistance from government at any level so my only option is cutting back in every way. Others also work less but accept government assistance, I don't agree with that but it's not illegal. Indeed, it is how government expands and it is either intentional (a la conspiracy) or simply a failing experiment that has yet to be terminated.

However we all choose to handle this, the whole of society is doing and producing less. I think you may be seeing this effect.

On the plus side, I now have the time to be here on ATS!

edit on 13-9-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 14 2013 @ 04:11 AM
reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan

We do take what pride we can from the way we comport ourselves in terms of business, and in the meat and potatoes of the work itself, and I would like to think that it shows in the quality of our installations over the years. The crucial thing for us right now, is to keep ourselves motivated to keep getting up in the morning, opening up the shop, and moving forward. The resistive drag we encounter from bigger businesses (like ASDA/Walmart) muscling in on the hardware end however, is proving tricky to counter, and the only way we can see of doing that, is to keep making our customers aware that we value their custom, and that the only way to keep us around as a business is to make a mental effort not to buy stuff we sell at the big stores where ever possible!

reply to post by geobro

The experience you describe with your mothers cafe, and the erosion of tea room culture is one of the great travesties of this day and age in Britain in my opinion. I remember when I was but a three foot tall nipper, on camping holidays with my folks, we used to visit Mersea Island (near Colchester). They had a gorgeous little tea room there which served, aside from a bloody smashing cup of tea and the obligatory scone, the most amazing puff pastry steak and kidney pie I have ever had the good fortune to consume. Places like that are the stuff of which this country is made, and their downfall is a testimony to precisely the thing I am concerned about in my area. That people would rather eat a from frozen bit of nonsense in a superstore cafe, than go to a place which offers traditionally hand made food, and tea brewed to perfection is a crying shame.

reply to post by greencmp

That maintenance issue you talk about is no more evident than in the way landlords handle property these days. We rent our business space from a managing company, who administrate the property on behalf of a firm who have repeatedly failed to make good on their responsibilities as landlords. We had flooding due to a rainwater pipe which went straight down from the flat roof two floors above, into a Victorian era clay pipe under ground, which had collapsed, causing a blockage. The water backed up of course, and when it reached the first segment of the pipe which was above ground level during a big storm a few years back, water gushed from the unsealed joint in the pipe, and ruined tens of thousands of pounds worth of stock, shop fittings, counters, displays. Anything within four inches of the floor was wrecked. This happened TWICE. It took them and the insurance company TWO years to sort the thing out and pay us, not only for the stock that was ruined but for the business interruption as well.

In terms of maintaining our equipment, we are pretty lucky in that servicing of all our key machines, grinding wheels, and so on, is undertaken either by myself or the other technician who works here. The only stuff that goes wrong here that we cannot fix ourselves has to do with utilities (like the electrics in the building, which are uniformly substandard, another genius move on the part of our landlords) and the fabric of the building, which is as previously mentioned, questionable at best! When we moved into these premises the place was a bombsite. We did the place up to make it look smart, clean, and functional, but the landlords never lifted a finger to fulfill their responsibilities.

posted on Sep, 14 2013 @ 08:07 AM
reply to post by TrueBrit

In the US we have The Chamber of Commerce. Now, say what you want about the national level of this my community we make it work very well.

Our local Chamber helps out by being a central hub for planning for small business. Things like giving away tickets at local businesses on the weekends around Christmas, with businesses each throwing something int he kitty for a prize.

Create events, create your opportunities. Is there a relatively unobserved holiday that your local businesses can all get together and throw a festval for? You are all in this together when it comes to fighting Wal Mart. Wal Mart has representation at our Chamber of Commerce board of directors. So another way our community fights against them is via an economic development corporation. They provide various trainings, and help recruit new industry to help grow your local economy.

Just a few ideas thrown out without having any real idea what specific issues you face.

posted on Sep, 14 2013 @ 10:43 AM
reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan

You know, its funny you should say that, because we do have a chamber of commerce here. It just has absolutely no balls.

posted on Sep, 14 2013 @ 10:59 AM
reply to post by TrueBrit

Don't worry the Chamber of Commerce here gave $100M to the 2012 Presidential Erection, great if Your game is "Politics" crappy if it is a paint store...

posted on Sep, 14 2013 @ 01:13 PM
reply to post by TrueBrit

I am lucky. My chamber exec is really solid. Our local businessfolk are very involved.

All it will take is someone with enough time (or need to create the time) and enough charisma to start the movement. It will build its own momentum from there. As businesses see improved revenues, they will come up with fresh ideas and continue infusing them into the forward looking plans.

Like I said, I am not there and have no place giving advice. So rather, I am just throwing out ideas if you are interested in them.

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