For the second time this week, I find myself reading about the demise of a New Zealand (in this case a Christchurch) institution.
The Children’s bookshop has gone into liquidation, just days after the announcement that Pumpkin Patch has suffered the same. Although technically both of these shops are my competition, I am deeply saddened.
While bad decisions and not keeping up with the times has been a common call out from many of the Mums that I know with regards to Pumpkin Patch, The Children’s Bookshop, I believe, is the victim of large conglomerates (who shall remain nameless) being able to undercut, pay huge advertising bills and generally bowl over the competition. It’s also the victim of a population who prefer convenience over service, and price over specialty. Such a shame.
The Children’s bookshop has been a mainstay in Christchurch for my entire life. The staff were incredible – many of my own children’s favourite books have been suggestions by enthusiastic staff, who have spent so much time reading the books that they stock, in order to be able to recommend the perfect book.
Perhaps their post earthquake location in Blenheim Road was an issue? To be honest, it was actually far more convenient for me, living on the South side of town, and providing far better car parking than the original Children’s Bookshop in Victoria Street. Perhaps it lost some of it’s charm, being in a concrete tilt slab building? I don’t know. What I do know, is that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
Sadly, if you happen to go to the mall, with all the massive chain stores, where it’s all exactly the same as the mall down the road, you’ll find it teaming with people. I used to be one of these people. I was afraid, for some reason, to go somewhere ‘unknown’ – what if I get ripped off?’ ‘what if there’s nothing there I want?’.
So many of my customers at SmartyPants tell me ‘I’m so glad I didn’t have to go to the mall!’. They are now choosing to make MY shop the first shop they come to for choosing birthday presents, Christmas presents, or for their children to spend their pocket money. The reality is that if you go to a local shop, you’re likely to be served by someone who genuinely cares about what they have in their store, whether it be children’s books, gifts, clothing, specialty food or whatever else. They are likely to have more knowledge about the products they stock, because chances are, the person you are dealing with either chose those products themselves, or answers directly to the person that did. Small business owners work hard every day to make sure their business is the very best it can be because every sale matters to us. You are not ‘just another customer’. You are a VALUED customer. Without you, we are not sustainable.
Well that’s enough from me about this for tonight. It’s 1am and I need to go to sleep. But please, on behalf of all small businesses out their, shop local. Use it or lose it. These saying might sound cliche…. but they’re true. Without your support, we cannot survive.
- Sarah xx