As Black Friday sweeps the nation, smaller independent shops like ours either embrace it and discount all their stock to compete, discount some to be involved as best they can without suffering too much of a pinch or ignore it all together.
I thought I’d give a little insight into a year in the life of an independent shop keeper. After surviving a two year Pandemic 🙌 (no mean feat as a small independent “non essential” retail store), 2022 was filled with optimism that our doors were still open and we were lucky enough to be happy and healthy.
The beginning of the year is normally relatively quiet, so we expect that. Things come to life in April. April arrived and scaffolding and security netting was erected around our entire shop to work on the flat above and the shop next door. You couldn’t even see the shop. A few weeks they said, six or seven it turned out to be.
In May ‘Ride London’ closed our high street and all surrounding roads on a Saturday for a bike ride for approximately 20 cyclists. We didn’t have one customer that day. July and August is generally quieter as kids are on their Summer break. At the end of August when things are starting to pick up, ‘Highways’ closed our main road to Saffron Walden/Cambridge (where the majority of our customers are from) for three months to repair a bridge. A bridge over a stream I might add, not over the river Severn! This is still ongoing, so it’s likely it wont be open until the end of December either which, I’m sure you’ll be aware, would be our busiest month of trading. Shall I drop in here a casual mention of an energy crisis and a looming recession.
If you’ve got this far, this is not a pity post, but an insight into the obstacles we have to navigate and how hard it is running a small independent shop. If you slice me open like a stick of rock, ‘resilience’ would be written through me. The one thing that has got us through is the enjoyment we get from our shop and the lovely customers that visit us (when they can reach us).
I am very much hoping that 2023 may be an easier ride for us. It may not, but rest assured, we’ll still be smiling when walk through the door. Happy Colour Friday!
Artwork Holly Tucker
Photos / Claire Naylor Photography