Saturday, 4 June 2011

A town for great little 21st century shops

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.
This is why I want to (humour me) write a book about the experiences of small shops using modern communications technology. It'll  not make me rich nor famous but I think it an interesting topic.
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?

1 comment:

  1. Go Robert! I can't wait to see your book! There's so much more magic in the one to one personal transaction. That's what I love about my business. I'm so glad I'm a little shop and not an Amazon!

    I have been collecting testimonials for the new website. This one sums up everything I love about being a small buisness.

    'I love everything about Radiance: the name, Hannah's passion for her makers and their creations, the feeling of being included in the Radiance family (as a consumer but also as someone who appreciates quirky things of beauty), the artistry and ingenuity of all the products, the sheer gorgeous celebration of creativity, the shop's independence (a little lighthouse of originality in the cookie-cutter cloned anonymity of most high streets).... I don't get to Hebden Bridge as often as I'd like, so receiving the Mail outs, with their brilliantly simple mix of image and text, is something I really look forward to.'


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