The Havens store has been trading as a family business since 1901 an era when the majority of retail and indeed other businesses were owner occupied and managed.
For decades family businesses flourished and survived supported by the local community whose loyalty was unfailing – if the business got it right that is and if you didn’t they would be quick to tell you!
Over the last decade all that has changed in the UK, the large brands now dominate along with shopping malls and the internet. High Street UK is under serious pressure and so with it the small family businesses whose natural habitat it is.
This is not just confined to Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff or indeed Southend, I talk to many retail colleagues across the UK and all express the same issues and concerns.
It was therefore really refreshing when recently on holiday in Kefalonia, a beautiful Greek Island, to find family run accommodation called Villa Rosa in Trapezaki along with a bountiful supply of family run restaurants – at least 11 nights worth with father or mother cooking, sons and daughters serving -in some instances vice versa, as a result each evening was a truly pleasurable experience and by and large the food was local, fresh and beautifully cooked.
But what struck me most about Villa Rosa and all the restaurants is that they truly cared about your experience making sure that you felt welcome, were happy and engaged us in friendly, meaningful and informative discussion. It was also clear that each and everyone knew and supported each other, including using family business supply chains. It is what drives local economies, almost a barter system and it clearly works as these family businesses are thriving against the particularly challenging Greek economic climate at the moment.
What we do know here is that when people use our store and our websites they love the fact that they are using a family business, the challenge is getting our brand upper most in peoples minds, as in the UK people tend to go first to the large, well known and well marketed brands and with that the consumer will often receive functional to poor service, shorn of personality.
I would love a Pound for every time I hear ” If only we had come here first, we have been everywhere looking for this item…”
So now is the time to restablish our long lost love affair with small, private and family businesses, you can be sure of being made to feel welcome – we know just how important it is when you are spending your hard earned cash!
Use your local businesses or you will lose them. Please spread the word.