Saturday, November 03, 2007

Big Shop, Little Shop

My husband requires repeat prescriptions. He had signed up with a large chain of chemists (and a bit) to organize collecting and filling these prescriptions.

But they somehow always seem to manage to lose his prescription in between the piles of prescriptions they have, not have the medicines he needs, and almost always there is a long queue waiting to be served and waiting to pay.

A couple of weeks ago we had a leaflet from our local independent chemist. They are a few doors from the sub-post office I use. They have now also introduced a collection service.

As I needed a prescription filled for myself I went to them to say we would like them to do my husband's precription.

They are so incredily friendly as small shops (and other owner-businesses) are capable of being. I've used their services before and have never been disappointed although the shop itself looked terribly dated and I could see that the packs of disposable nappies they were selling looked, hmm, dusty.

Basically they are a chemist more than a shop. They serve the many old and frail in the area who do not have the energy or wish to get to the larger town centre where unruly teenagers push and shove and illegal sellers of illegal DVDs hassle them at every five metres or so.

They have had the shop refitted recently and now it is bright and cheerful with the same friendly service. The chemist part is still why people come to them.

I think the future of small shops lie in that personal service they are able to provide.

Big chains make enormous profits on sheer economies of scale. They are also staffed (usually) by employers on minimum wage. But businesses run by owners and others with a share in the profits (as co-operatives are run) tend to provide the best shopping experience.

My own business plans are to grow big in the area of being small. Does that make any sense at all?

Probably not. My vision is to expand the business in such a way that small-players could provide the same friendly efficient service that my customers have come to expect. And why shouldn't they?

I'll have to keep thinking about this one.

Back to Organic-Ally.

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