Supporting Independent Businesses is for Life, not just for Small Business Saturday.

Today was Small Business Saturday and, despite us being a small business, we did nothing to promote this new High Street ‘tradition’.

The concept of Small Business Saturday was introduced to the UK from the USA, with the first event taking place in December 2013.  This was the year that I started the Chorlton Art Market and so I was involved with helping to promote the concept of encouraging people to shop at independent business for this one day.  This slightly patronising idea about shopping at ‘small businesses’ for one day out of 365 is my first issue with the idea of Small Business Saturday.

My second problem with SBS is the fact that it is actually a PR exercise by American Express, cleverly disguised as a social enterprise movement.  Since the age of 13 I have worked in various roles within independent business and I can’t recall any of those places accepting American Express payments due to higher processing fees than other cards.  We do not accept American Express at CAM for this reason.

I am not entirely convinced that Small Business Saturday does actually make people any more likely to shop at independent businesses than they would do usually.  I may well be wrong, but I quite simply haven’t had the time or the inclination to do any kind of promotion for it this year.

Promotion that does work well for a business like ours is, of course, consistent and regular social media updates and information.  Unfortunately at the minute our social media presence is pretty much dormant.  Due to a few unexpected events over the last couple of months, we have been preoccupied with other issues which has left the social media stuff being side-lined at a time of year when we should really be pumping up the volume.

BUT!…Even if we haven’t posted a slightly filtered photo on Instagram, or shared a tweet for a couple of weeks this doesn’t mean that the CAMhub isn’t as completely awesome as always – it simply means that we are crazy busy and trying to prioritise!  Making the shop work economically and ensuring that our artists are making good money, serving our customers 6 days a week and simply doing all the paperwork is not an easy task (as well as maintaining the basic requirements of 2 small humans) so please be understanding if it seems that our social media-ness is a bit quiet.

Right now the shop is absolutely jam-packed with an eclectic hoard of carefully selected giftware for all ages, along with the work of our amazing artists.  And if this wasn’t enough for you, Autumn’s Vintage Boutique is looking better than it ever has done, thanks to the hard work of our wonderful vintage ladies.  As a special treat for our customers, the vintage traders have come together to organise a special shopping day, taking place on Sunday 4th December – more info here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/365475820457367/

So come down, get yourself styled to vintage perfection and get all your Christmas shopping done under one roof with a glass of Jay’s famous mulled wine in your hand.  You can always support a small business, even if it isn’t Small Business Saturday!

 

 

 

It has finally happened!

Its hard to actually believe, but after months of stress and work, the Chorlton Art Market Hub is finally open! Even up until the day before I still wasn’t 100% sure it was going to happen, but somehow it all came together at the last minute.

I am very happy that the shop is now a reality, but I’m angry about how hard it was make happen. I’m in no way adverse to hard work by any means, but what frustrates me is the fact that the government pretend to support high street initiatives – pop up shops and markets in particular, but in the real world it is just a series of endless battles. My main realisation is that people who wear suits to work don’t really understand real life at all. I know this sounds like a bit of a generalisation, but in my experience, these big time estate managers of retail precincts know all about the money side of things, but they have no idea how to create a successful thriving community space. Just using Chorlton precinct as an example, to me it seems that the landlords really aren’t bothered about what sort of businesses rent the units, just so long as they get the money. Why on earth would they think that a shop selling beds and sofas would sit well amongst the greengrocers, the bakeries, the butchers etc? How does that make any sense at all? I’m quite certain if they had undertaken a survey of Chorlton shoppers to find out if ‘the people’ wanted a furniture shop selling pleather sofas, the majority answer would of been no. It was doomed to fail from the start and it simply strengthened the negative view that some people have about the precinct. An e-cig shop will have a similar effect.

Anyway, I’m rambling now. I just feel that there is so much wrong with the way things are done and, to me it seems quite clear how it could be changed for the better. If the government really want to support independent businesses and pop ups in empty retail units, then they need to have a rethink about the whole business rates issue. I just don’t understand why they haven’t changed the way they work out business rates despite the rise of internet shopping over the last decade – how can they not see that this is one of the main reasons that year on year, shop closures are rapidly increasing? And how do they STILL not see what a worrying thing this is in so many ways? Like I said – people in suits havn’t got a clue because they don’t shop in little precincts – Waitrose do home deliveries don’t ya know.

This government is just fucked up. I know there’s no real connection to the high street issue, but if our ‘Equalities Minister’ voted against gay marriage, then it’s pretty clear to me that the people in power are most certainly not the right people for the job. I really am rambling now. Good night.