It's a funny thing the world of retail..well not funny..more like fucking heart racing panic to heart racing highs!
Anyone that owns a retail business will know that all too familiar rush of worry and elated happiness. Every day in retail land is now not predictable like it once was. We used to know our 'quiet months' and our 'busy months' not anymore.
I've been in retail for a long time. I've been the manager, the owner and the employee. I've seen it all. I started working in retail at 14 years and 9 months to the day. I wanted to work from very young. And my pre anxiety confidence meant customer service was always going to be in my future. Hell even anxious me loves a customer. So the day I was old enough to legally work I was offered a job at the local newsagency as well as the local chemist. I took both jobs. One on a Saturday morning at the news agency and one on Wednesday Arvo's at the Chemist. I'm naturally a very nice very chatty person(sorry I sound like a dick but I like being nice and I'm not naturally skinny so I gotta be naturally something right;) ) Once upon a time, being nice and chatty was all that helped a business grow. So fast forward 20 years owning my own retail business, being the nicest shop lady around and being able to have a laugh with customers is not what keeps the doors open anymore unfortunately.
The truth is, it's all of us that is killing the retail shop. The small retail shop that is. The giant chains are pumping of course.(well maybe not Topshop this week) I'm talking about small business.
The thing is, we can all complain about chains doing it to us, by copying us constantly and selling the same copied product for a fraction of its original worth, yes that is ripping our hearts out of place, but it's not just the chains that are destroying us.
I've said it a million times, chains have their place. I know its annoying but Mass produced affordable replaceable stuff is what the world not only wants, but now needs. Rents and mortgages in our country are so fucking high that we can't afford to go shop at the small shops constantly like we used to, so we end up at chains for necessity. I get all that, and I won't ever tell someone not to shop at a chain. Do YO THANG. But what needs to happen is for all of to stop thinking that someone else will save the little shops. We are the 'someone else'
A lady came in this morning and said 'WOW this shop is gorgeous. It almost makes me cry' and I said 'NOOOO no crying at Little Paper Lane EVER only happy faces in here' and she said she traveled a lot in America and my type of cute small shop popped up in little towns all over the place over there and even over there they are getting rare but Australia is just losing more and more unique small retail shops.
And I agree.
And it's all our fault.
We are doing this to ourselves. On our website, it states that we have a 2 business day processing time before a product gets sent out, Because the only people who work at our shop are Steve and I and my Mum now works on Mondays. We don't have a heap of hands to pack orders all night long. That's small business though. Generally it's a few people working sometimes 1 person, and we try our hardest to ship out the next day as frequently as we can. The amount of times a person will email after 2 days looking for their order is astounding. This person may also live in another state to us, and even last week we had someone from Western Australia calling us to chase an order after 4 days. It arrived that afternoon, and was technically 3 days when they called, but it left me puzzled and also aware of why small business won't survive.
It's our faults.
We have become a society that needs things instantly. We are so used to chains having teams of hundreds sometimes thousands working around the clock to get a $5 mug to us within 24 hours(sometimes for FREE) that our brains forget that small business cannot and will not ever be able to replicate that.
I used to get SO panicked with the calls of stock that hasn't arrived to that customer from Western Australia after only 3 days. That customer couldn't even wait a full 3 days for a product to arrive to them that is coming from Sydney. A product that is also not available at many shops in Australia let alone anywhere in WA. A product that took me months to find and save for and build a relationship with its maker in another country, and to photograph, and to promote and to put my heart and soul into. This is every day retail in small business land. We get these customers weekly and that's because we are killing small retail shops.
This customer is not a greedy person. They aren't horrible. They aren't the evil person they sound to be in my story. They are in fact super lovely. But society has made their impatience 'normal'. Now not everyone is impatient like that. Please don't think I am talking about ALL humans like this(our customers luckily are generally pretty amazing)...but scarily...it's a huge majority of us that now can't wait 3 days for a parcel to arrive.
The way we save the small shop is simple. Don't forget us. Shop every now and then with us. Not every single purchase needs to be with us. I mean that would be pretty fucking cool if you could but we get it. We all live here too, we all shop here too, we know it's not reality for a lot of people. I get it. A card here or there, a notepad for Nan for her birthday once a year, just a little shop every now and then saves us.
And guys...its fucking scary right now for our shop. I will not get to Xmas if you don't help me. I have always and will always be honest with how we are going in our shop because I wish others would share their realities in small business more so that we all don't feel alone. Shops have this very rich history of pretending everything is amazing even when its crap, and under the surface nervous breakdowns and bankruptcy and even more serious horrible outcomes have happened and when they do everyone is SHOCKED. If those shops just said 'hey guys, it's fucking dead quiet I need everyone to support us, or we will have to close' I often wonder how many of those beautiful little shops we grew up loving so much could have made it?!
I've got new adventures on the horizon, new things are happening and the wheels are in motion for a slightly new road to Little Paper Lane. Nothing too drastic so please don't freak the fuck out just yet, but the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results...well Imma change shit up. This crazy bitch is not going insane today ;)
Make sure you take advantage of our MEGA SALE. I never do sales. I'm selling to you at almost cost because I am not losing my legend LPL Gang EVER.
Use the code 'SURPRISE40' at checkout to get 40 mother fucking PERCENT off....I know...maybe I did go insane after all ;)
Love you guys. Thanks for sticking by us. We have some big personal changes happening at home that we aren't hiding but its a long story and we will tackle one issue at a time, so we need you more than ever right now and we so so appreciate your sticking by...even when we do lose our minds a little ;)