One thing I noticed on my recent trip to Sydney, especially in the city centre, was how many of the small boutique style shops and galleries had closed. There is a sameness in a lot of big centres now with malls and franchises taking so much business away from the small shop owner, that it is a struggle to keep your door open. The whole advent of online shopping has also made it so much harder for these small boutique shops to remain viable unless selling online.
Luckily here where I live, the nearest city Dunedin, still has an interesting range of small eclectic shops and only two very, very small shopping malls. I hope that doesn’t change. Browsing through a street filled with interesting shops and cafes is much more pleasing than wandering through the sameness of shopping malls. Small unique shops also preserve a city’s architecture and identity, helping to retain an individuality.
In small towns it is even harder trying to sustain a business when there is a general downturn in the economy and competition from big franchises.
But I am hoping that peoples attitudes will change. I know that online shopping is here to stay, but I do think people are getting sick of indifferent customer service and appreciate the personal approach that is offered by smaller owner run businesses. Small individual businesses add colour and variety to a town or city, and can offer products that are unique to them, especially as in my situation, where I design and create what I sell.
Dealing with customers and clients directly means I get feedback on my work and that is a great help when designing pieces to sell, also the positive comments make you feel like what you are creating is appreciated.
So please, if you can support the small business owner because if we don’t we will end up with shops that are all the same, and towns and cities will lose the vibrancy that an eclectic range of shops brings.