plus sign, positiveOn a visit to the Midlands and mid Wales last week I stopped in on a number of local shops ranging from the very good to the OK. What was interesting was to contrast the expectations that are created by a good high street location. In both towns in Wales the architecture of the shops to the streets was great. The windows of some were great. But the investment stopped at the front door.

In one newsagent’s they had a fantastic display at eye level when you walked in and on it was displayed some magazines that I cannot recall. The shop had a really interesting layout that created a lot of shelf space and three aisles at an angle in around 500 square feet of floor space. But there was no spark.

The Spar shop around the corner was OK. An alternative shop selling healthy foods looked interesting but very dark.

The same three shops also appeared in another town, with similar results. Except in this case, the Spar, run by Tates, had very high spec lighting on its vegetables and good tile flooring. But it also had a needlessly long queue caused – the lad behind the till assured me –  by being short of staff.

The final shop was an award winner on a suburban shopping estate. If you passed by you might never go into the centre but it was a good shop, full of interesting promotions and a wide range of products.

Be prepared to invest

At around the same time, Jonathan Guthrie, writing in the FT on the subject of Tesco appealing against its £10 million fine for price fixing, said that you “may not admire the corner shop-squashing behemoth”.

Maybe it does squash corner shops. But many shopkeepers need to get outside their shops and look at how poor a job they are doing. I can hear my friend Glyn telling me that I don’t realise how hard business is for some shopkeepers but I do not understand how you can afford to stay in business if you are not prepared to invest and to back yourself big time.

Think of Tesco as the bar on the high jump that you need to clear to stay in the competition. You can keep ahead if you have a positive attitude. Back your shop to be successful.