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Supermarkets put small shops like mine out of business

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A little background...  I was forced to end my 20 year career in 2008 following a heart attack.  Once I was recovered and feeling well I decided to go self employed - I had always wanted to own a traditional sweet shop.

The first couple of years were great, not making anything like I was in my career, but happy none the less - people loved the shop, great positive comments, prices were keen etc.  This last year has been horrendous - despite negotiating the best price I can on the rent, and with my suppliers, I am now literally working for nothing.

I am lucky in some ways, the business has no debt, neither do I personally - through being careful - The business was set up with personal savings and my redundancy payment (well, being retired through ill health).

The rent has increased, as have the rates, the cost of diesel and insurance on my 10 year old van has rocketed, the utilities have gone up, people are spending far less - because no one has any spare cash (welcome to my world!).  It seems every time I try to get a unique selling point and try to get ahead (for example, selling American Sweets), the local supermarkets copy the range, then undercut me !

There are now quite a few empty shops around me, which have closed due to the recession, they were good businesses, and also keenly priced - now gone 'to the wall'.  This has reduced 'footfall' - people have less reason to come here. 

Easter eggs and selection boxes - they are actually CHEAPER in the supermarkets than I can buy them in from wholesalers...

Sweets in a traditional sweetie shop The supermarkets are killing small businesses, while you might say 'I am not competitive' - I cannot afford to stock certain things.  For example with Easter eggs and selection boxes, they are actually CHEAPER in the supermarkets than I can buy them in from wholesalers - they are selling as loss leaders to entice customers in.  So there is no point me stocking them, I might as well set fire to the money!

I have tried everything I can think of - free gift wrapping, catering for diabetics, vegetarian, vegan, halal, offering a loyalty card scheme, student discount, armed forces discount, NHS discount - it's just is not working now. 

My shop takes about £60 a day over 6 days, by time everything is paid I take home about £50 - about a 1 an hour!!  I have though about relocating the shop to a busier location but the problem is the rents out there are crazy.  You can pay £15,000 rent plus for a small shop in the town centre.  I would be 5 times as busy, but just working to pay the rent and be no better off!  I could get a little part time job for 16 hours and take home twice the amount of money!

I know I am not the only one in this boat, but there is no support, no help and when you are self employed there is no sick pay or holiday pay either!  (what is a holiday?).  I know this is a bit of a whinge.....sorry.  All I would like to say is this, please, if you can, support your local traders because the way things are going, all that will be left is the supermarkets and people will cry 'Oh, I used to go in that little shop all the time'.  Sadly though they don't, which is why small businesses like mine are going under.

I have decided to call it a day after Christmas.  I am going to take a couple of months off and enjoy what's left of my savings before they're all gone.

Giz a job?!


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Dead and Buried

Dead and Buried

You know, most snobs simply like pseudo-middle-class supermarkets, of which London has too many.
Dead and Buried
24th Apr 14 14:22

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Can't Stand Snobs

Can't Stand Snobs

I hate the snobby supermarkets, like M&S, who sell "chef's vegetables". These are vegetables, wrapped in a plastic bag. They are only vegetables. Who needs the allusion that you getting Michelin starred bag of greens? It's all vanity.

Don't the people I share my country with care about real truth, or do they all live in a gross illusion, a yuppidom beyond thinking?
Can't Stand Snobs
23rd Apr 14 14:30

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Nick

Nick

Well at least you've got a supermarket there. Come to the northeast and you'll find all you've got are pawnshops and poundshops.
Nick
13th Nov 13 11:26

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Death on the Street Corner

Death on the Street Corner

Well it has happened. A large chain store moved into the business of providing a local street corner store in our area. All the other local private sole-traders swiftly died out or were killed off, and closed up their shops. The private sole-traders used to have a huge range of products in their stores. The large chain store didn't or couldn't actually manage to match that range. Having killed all the local competition, the large chain store has now put up all its prices in its store. It only now sells goods which bear a high margin. Some regular everyday goods it does not even bother to stock: Eggs, Aspirin, Marmalade all come to mind. These big stores don't care to serve the local community.
Death on the Street Corner
13th Nov 13 11:15

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Oh la la

Oh la la

France and New York have the models for respectable private food shops. These do not prevail in Britain.
Oh la la
2nd Jun 13 14:41

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Out Damn Spot

Out Damn Spot

I am not sorry at all! Let your grossly overpriced business go to the wall. You are probably selling well below an expected quality with a gross margin.

Good riddance to your business. Let competition prevail.
Out Damn Spot
2nd Jun 13 14:39

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ahforfoulkessake

ahforfoulkessake

Im sorry to hear of your plight, potentially losing your business.
My grandparents on mums side ran a small general store for 30 years even working a few years after 65 to earn a few ££ to top up state pension. Most of the time my grandad had to work full time as van driver milkman etc to earn a guarenteed wage in case shop didn't.
My mum says now that they were conned into taking it on just as supermarkets were starting to become the next thing. There's a small co-op just up and round next street, plus used to be a newsagent further up their street that outlasted their shop by a few years.
Now the co-op's still there, there's a corner shop up that street far end a Londis acroos the main road from that and round the corner from my grandparents there's a Tesco Express(1 of 3 in my town and they wanted a big store in town centre where they bought out loads of small shops, still derelict after 10 years) and down hill from them a small newsagent/off licence.
There seems to be no room for the little guy unless you're a Londis franchise or Premier Off licence with the backing of a big support network of a familiar name.
ahforfoulkessake
1st Jun 13 16:03

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Ken

Ken

Sorry but that's the way the market goes. I've worked (for other people) in retail or allied businesses all my life but I'd never do it myself unless I had major finances. If you don't have a USP you won't succeed. It's all about the market. As a one-man-band I could start a bookshop and get c.35% trade discount off retail. As a national chain I'd negotiate c.60% off plus sor. I'd love to have a shop because I really do like the customer contact but there comes a time when customers want value for money instead of service (sad).
All the best!
Ken
20th Mar 13 16:19

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hairyfairy

hairyfairy

I can understand how tough it is to make a living with a small business these days, but the supermarkets are a necessary evil for people like me who just can`t afford the prices small shops charge.
hairyfairy
19th Mar 13 16:14

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Grantorrino

Grantorrino

I couldn't agree more. How come the government let the big boys rule - can't they see what is happening. My new line for 2013 has just been scuppered by one of the large supermarkets selling the same line that I had intended to do, at a cheaper price than they cost from wholesale. Our markets are fading as fast as our small shops.
2013 is the year for small trade to stand up for itself. Watch out the so called big four!!!!!
Grantorrino
27th Dec 12 14:36

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Grumpy xx

Grumpy xx

Much as I sympathise, I think you are being a tad unrealistic. Like any business, you need to assess (or buy in the skills to asses real supply and demand and then create a business around that, building an operational cost to benefit strategy and plan not try to re-create nostalia using the same products that can be sold more cheaply elsewhere. No business can survive, much less thrive on 'oughts' and 'shoulds' and 'hope.' Only facts and figures count. No one in their right mind will pay £2 for a bag of jelly beans when you can buy the same thing in Sainsbury for £1.20. I know I wouldn't. The only shops that can sell the same for more are those with traditional snob value and a royal endorsement. No doubt tins of plum tomatoes in Fortnum and Mason sell if they cost three times what they do in Waitrose. The only independent sweet shops that I know are likely to gain my business are those that will sell a niche product or/and one where you can see the products being made on-sight. Eg., the fudge shop in Cambridge. Perhaps you could look at the local population where you have set up. Are they mixed and contain lots of people from different cultural backgrounds? Perhaps you could start a line in 'alternative ' foreign confectionary that might appeal to the Asian, African or Eastern European community. Or sell traditional English chocolates and combine that with a chocolate themed coffee shop selling chocolates and chocolate cake. Something to draw in the punters where they can see a real incentive to buy from you than from the faceless supermarket. A few clove balls in a jar might not cut it.
Grumpy xx
15th Dec 12 22:24

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boblet

boblet

Gob stoppers, Spangles, Aniseed Balls. Sweet Cigarettes, Sherbet. Flying saucers. Do you own a white mac jobby?
boblet
30th Nov 12 21:20

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honest truth

honest truth

@ Adios Amigos - I suggest that you learn some manners you ignorant, little man, and possibly with a small manhood.!! people out there are trying hard to earn a living, do you work? no probably not, probably your a a benefit sponger? because you know naff all about trying to run your own business.....
honest truth
30th Nov 12 15:28

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Adios Amigo

Adios Amigo

Goodbye small-fry! What were you actually selling to differentiate yourself from the real market? Chantenay carrots for the middle class? Junk carrots, unfit for consumption!! Small shops survive because they pretend to be there for the bourgeoisie. They name themselves "delicatessen". Fortnum & Mason of West Hampstead!! Goodbye small-fry, you ain't wrth the extra expense.
Adios Amigo
28th Nov 12 11:51

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Mr Rupert

Mr Rupert

I used to have a shop. It's impossible to compete with the big boys on price so you need to offer something more, something different. Even so, I sympathise with the overheads of retailing these days and I personally wouldn't go for it again unless it was a mortgage with living accommodation in a picturesque rural area.

You need to be very creative to succeed and make a half-decent living now.
Mr Rupert
22nd Nov 12 17:08

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