I work alongside my brother, Pinda to operate our family-owned 2,500 square feet convenience store in one of the suburbs of Coventry. The business was started by my mum and dad 27 years ago and I joined the family firm in 1988. The next generation has started to get involved with one of my children and a nephew each working a shift on Saturdays.
Our store is in the middle of a working class, owner-occupied housing estate with a big housing association estate about a mile away. We operate our business to cater for both types of customer and notice that the house owners who are more likely to be employed in monthly paid jobs plan their spending across each month and use us accordingly. The customers from the other estate are valuable to us as they tend to visit more often, but spend in a much less planned manner. Our top selling categories reflects our catchment area and are alcohol, service, tobacco and chilled food.
We see our store as a major community hub and we go out of our way to make a difference. Each year we have a summer party with a barbecue and product tasting, as well as a Christmas party in front of our store for the community. We get great support both from suppliers and manufacturers for these events. At last year’s Christmas party, Heinz supplied a soup kitchen, the local council supplied a marquee and we also had a Santa who distributed gifts from a supplier who couldn’t attend. With over 300 people carol singing, dancing, and a sound and light show, it was a great event.
Our community is at the heart of what we do. Apart from my brother and myself, our wives and parents, we employ six full time and 10 part time staff who all live locally. We believe that employing young people is important so when a lad who had not been able to find a job since he had left school asked if we could offer him a chance, we took him on for a two-week trial. We were able to keep him on with the help of the local council who helped fund the first six months. We now have him as a permanent member of our team and he is undertaking NVQ training.
We like to use the chance of running our shop to raise money for charity. Last year we and our customers supported the local air ambulance.
I have to say I feel very fortunate to be in the ‘job’ I have. I get a buzz out of being a retailer everyday, and a bigger buzz from being part of a business that is the centre of our community. I also like the opportunity it gives me to get out of my store to go to meetings with other retailers, trade associations and with suppliers and manufactures.