For valentines 2010 I gave Hannah a limited edition paper cut from Rob Ryan, she is a fan (she wrote about it). I ordered online and received a beautifully wrapped product, an unexpected extra paper cut calendar and a card thanking me for my purchase. Sixteen months later I still remember that in that card Rob wrote commenting on our shared forename: 'Thanks Robert (great name!)'
This speaks to me about the advantage being small has in this internet age. Had I bought from Paper Cuts inc. I might have received an equivalent product, a free gift and a heartfelt thanks but I don't think I'd feel as good about them as I do about my interaction with Rob Ryan. There was a human connection that substantially improved the value of that artwork, an 'intangible' in economics lingo.
I fear that a small shop might wish to play like the big boys and not celebrate and exploit all the advantages they naturally have. I really like feeling like a friend when I'm a customer, I have no chance of that even with moderately sized retailers.
Internet technology seems to push strategies to the extreme: you can be successful by being Amazon and being truly monumental in size or by being tiny.
I suspect living in Hebden Bridge helps me think along these lines. My town has the strapline 'a town for great little shops' which I have stolen for the title of my book. In true cart before the horse style here is the cover.
I'm going to be pressing people on how they think about making their living. I think the world has changed and we've not yet felt it. You might disagree?