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.