Don’t get me wrong – I love having a shop. It is a dream come true. Like most people, I played ‘shops’ as a child and now I get to do it for real every day. So essentially my life is just one long play time.
Except sometimes, it isn’t quite like that. Because the playtime never ends. And in reality, constant ‘playtime’ is actually really hard work. In some ways I can draw parallels with the Twilight Zone episode, A Nice Place to Visit, but I’m not repeatedly winning in a casino and I’m in Chorlton, not hell so it’s not quite the same (the CAMhub really is A Nice Place to Visit though).
As some will know, our shop is not like most shops. The majority of our space is filled with the work and wares of over 60 local people and therefore provides income for individuals and families and helps to support the local economy in a very direct way. It took a long time to become a reality – in some ways it has been brewing ever since I began organising charity events and cake sales when I was still a kid. All through my teens and twenties I slogged away in draughty village halls and fields doing craft fairs and summer fetes, and whilst I was at university in Preston I would sell my cards to a gift shop for a quid each (which was enough for 2 pints of Snakebite & Black on a Monday night in Squires so life was good). This was before the days of social media so life really was a lot sweeter. After a few years of pop up shops and markets and living a lifestyle way below the breadline, my shop dream somehow came true.
Anyway, my point is that the CAMhub did not spring up overnight. It was not a drunken idea dreamt up in the pub with my mates and it is not a vanity project funded by rich husbands. One of my main goals from the very beginning was to provide a platform for artists, craftspeople and small businesses to showcase their wares and build up their high street presence. The ultimate goal was always for people to do well enough in our shop to go on to open their own shops, thus rejuvenating and improving the high street further. I have always wanted the shop to help to improve the lives of like-minded people who have worked hard to build up their businesses, but I would have always expected honesty and openness from people who we work hard for.
We treat our traders very fairly and we know that our business plan focusses on ensuring that people who sell their wares with us make a good profit. Our business model might be different from the norm, but it works well; being different is always better. And it’s only going to continue to get better and better all the time.
Sometimes in business, as in everyday life, people do things which shock you. Sometimes in life we all get treated in a manner which surprises us and makes you question the whole do-as-you-would-be-done-by philosophy. Sometimes in life you just come across very selfish people and that’s just the way it is. I have wanted to write this post for over a month now but I couldn’t find the words which weren’t swear ones. Then I simply remembered the wise words from a dear old friend – he had a theory that when you want to be a better person when dealing with arseholes, you should think of John Cusack’s character in Stand by Me (the flashback scene where he gives his brother the baseball cap). So, when I’m feeling pissed off about a situation, and when I would quite like to speak my mind, I tell myself: “Be more like dead Cusack”…and it always helps.
As ever we will continue to work hard to make the CAMhub the very best shop it can possibly be. After a lot of hard work over the last few days, our Baby & Child section is better than it ever has been, with a much wider range of giftware and affordable high quality clothing than we have ever had. We have listened to and acted on customer feedback from over the last 18 months and we are very proud to be bringing you our carefully selected collections of 100% cotton dresses and babygrows, as well as fairtrade wooden toys from Lanka Kade. All this as well as our ever-evolving mixture of artwork, handmade crafts and vintage clothing.
So come and visit us tomorrow and see our beautiful shop for yourselves. And I promise to continue to be more like dead Cusack.