I run a small independendent vape shop and coffee lounge. Business started off incredibly well, however over the past year we have seen a decline in sales, loss of regular customers and customer confidence. Initially i presumed this was due to a failure on some part of the business so throughout this we have improved the facilities, upped our marketing engagement and done nothing but generate positive reviews. Increased stock variety and remained competitive on pricing (often significantly lower than our competitor) to show the position we sit in. On Google we are the highest rated store in the area with more than double the number of reviews compared to the second highest rated store, with a similar scenario on Facebook. Our engagement with the community is massive compared to our competitors and our remaining customer is incredibly loyal. The main competitor, who this post is regarding charges a higher price for exactly the same product, offers less facilities, however has been around for about 4 years longer than we have. Given the above information it came to my attention about a year ago that one town over (from the competitors second store) that they were not happy with us stocking a certain product. They then proceeded to tell customers, they are going to file lawsuits against us regarding this, told customers that our product was fake and other comments along these lines as well as petty comments. As a result of this i approached the person where these rumours had originated from and resolved the issue amicably. To which i presumed was the end of the issue. Our situation did not improve, over the past couple of months it has come to my attention that the store in our town. Has been spreading similar rumours now. While it has been something that i have been hearing more and more about recently. Until, the other day one of my customers came in, explaining her concerns to me as she enjoys coming to my store though has been told that the reason we can keep our prices low is that we stock dodgy and fake products, knock offs and take advantage of good people by exploiting them for money. This alongside other rumours such as, selling drugs, selling to minors, taking advantage of vulnerable adults. I believe these vicious rumours are impacting my business. While all the customers who inform me of these events we have not lost, they will only form a small percentage of the overall affected. Our response has always been the same, in that we assure the customer these are unfounded rumours and not to worry about such things. Our response is to carry on doing our positive bit and the truth will always shine brighter. Though i am starting to believe that the truth is not shining brighter, we are starting to lose customers to a point where it is starting to impact the survival of the business. So my question is what can i do about this? They appear to have been careful to not place any of these untrue accusations to writing or provided any tangible evidence of this. What is the best way to combat this type of attack on a business?