Family run general store / newsagents may close after 35 years.

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by 2012, Jun 6, 2019.

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  1. 2012

    2012 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    Family run shop may close after 35 years.

    After a few hard years my family is considering closing the store which my grandmother purchased some decades ago to help support her family at that time it use to sell all the basics nearly all my family has had a hand in running it over the years, it was took over by my mum who would get up early hours deal with us, send us to school then run the store all day the return home after 6, we used to have other corner stores on the same road, one of which was dead across from us, we got along really well even if we both had the same type of store, a few years ago we increased the product range which helped a little, but in recent years things started slowing down.

    Recently things have got really bad,
    We now have 6 stores on the same road, the new store across of us sells fake fags and cheap booze so that does not help.
    Supermarkets do give us a good kicking a lot more then they use to, even more so now with fast online shopping.

    being load and loitering has also been a issue
    We get a lot of daily thefts so we had to get CCTV.
    The daily intake would not even cover a persons wage on most days.
    for some reason our tax returns are more then we make, I feel out accountant if not doing the job
    due to hard time the store was remortgaged in 2010 at a stupid rate, so the monthly repayment is well above what it should be.
    Then you have the normal bills which go up each year.

    Even if we close the store we still have a huge mortgage to pay.

    What are you thoughts ?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2019
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: 2012 Member since: Sep 22, 2010
  2. Lisa Thomas

    Lisa Thomas UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    What type of entity is it? Sole Trader, Partnership or Ltd Company?

    What assets and liabilities does the business have?

    Has the business been valued?
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: Lisa Thomas Member since: Apr 20, 2015
  3. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

    8,765 3,427
    This sounds like death by a thousand stings, made worse by your family's inability to deal with change.

    1. East Europeans don't like the stuff Brits eat. If you want their trade, you MUST sell sauerkraut, Maggi, real bread (i.e. not bought in) real Pilsner beer and things like that. Go shopping in a Polish or Rumanian shop and see all the things that you are completely unfamiliar with.

    2. If the competition is selling fake fags, report them.

    3. I've just come back from Berlin - thousand and thousands of little shops everywhere selling foreign specialities and all of them doing very well - queues at the till! Kurdish, Rumanian, Turkish, Polish, Afghanistan, Chinese, Vietnamese - you name 'em and they are there and selling their stuff like hot-cakes. Well, some are hot cakes! I didn't see any boarded-up shops, that seems to be a British disease!

    4. There's no point trying to go up against Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Asda. The Berlin lesson is, people shop at Aldi and Lidl anyway. All of them! You must sell what they don't sell and will never want to sell!

    5. If you are a Ltd. and the property is separate from the Ltd., pull the plug and either start again, but properly this time - or rent the place out.
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
  4. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    15,600 1,719
    If losing money then a good idea to stop that.
    Change the business, shut the business or alter the costs.
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  5. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    The old adage 'if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got' really doesn't apply in business.

    Your narrative suggests that you've kept ploughing on doing the same thing - what patently is the wrong ting.

    Either give customers a reason to come to you, or go to them. As suggested above, this might mean adapting to meet the demands of the polish market, or it might mean re-inventing yourselves as purveyors of something that people will go out of their way to buy.
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
  6. 2012

    2012 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    710 18
    Sole Trader,
    assets I assume it will only be the shop stock and equipment.,
    I dont know all the liabilities.
    Its by my family not me so I dont have all the details

    1. We tried once a few years ago but most of it stayed on the shelf for ages or went out of date so we never tried again after.

    2.We did a number of time, they have been done for it at least on ceraided twice but they changed the owner carries on.

    4. Thats the hard part not much they dont sell anymore,

    5. That what we are looking at our options what we can do.

    We have 3 barber shops, 2 takeaways, 6 shops, thats on one stretch of road.

    Thanks, I dont run the business and its sometime hard to steering people in the right direction, even harder when its your parents and grand parent, after thinking about it for a month I thought I should post on here and see if anyone has any advice.

    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: 2012 Member since: Sep 22, 2010
  7. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

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    1. I bet they didn't! I bet they just tried some crap the wholesaler pushed on them. Every shop MUST sell things that people MUST have and can get nowhere else! I shop at certain Chinese and African shops because they sell catering bottles of Maggi and propper Jamaican hot sauces. I gave up trying to find real bread in the UK and bake my own, using a light spelt flour.

    2. Keep reporting every time it happens.

    4. They don't even sell real bread, they seldom sell real beer, the 'ethnic' stuff is mass-produced nonsense that is usually completely tasteless. Proper imported sauces, herbs and spices are your friends. Fermented and dried limes are a must-have for N.African and Middle-Eastern cooking. Proper soy sauce made from fermented soya beans is a must-have for Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. The supermarkets don't even sell freshly roasted coffee beans! I could go on and on and on here, but you get the idea!

    No corner shop can hope to compete with the supermarkets - that just ain't gonna happen, so don't even try!

    Even if you just do a few simple things that the supermarkets cannot do, you could change the fortunes of that shop. I would start by making real bread (the supermarkets just warn up frozen factory gunk and then call that 'freshly baked'!) The smell of fresh bread first thing in the morning will have the punters coming back for more!

    Next - freshly roasted coffee beans. Just make sure that smell hits the road as people walk past! You can sell that freshly ground or whole - and maybe even sell them a coffee grinder to go with it! Get a bean-to-cup machine and sell small cups of coffee at £1 each! They'll be lined up ten-deep on their way to work in the morning!


    If I were you, I would walk away from the whole thing and find a life away from that shop. If you have your heart set on opening your own business, spend a few months in Berlin and see how all sorts of funky people, mostly outsiders, refugees, immigrants, start and run successful small businesses.
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
  8. Noah

    Noah UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,199 298
    loomi aswad in Arabic (specifically, blackened limes - slow-roasted dry and they're black); used to be available from Matta's on Bold Street in Liverpoool years ago, more widely available these days. Fantastic crushed up as a marinade for meat dishes - 24+ hours with minced onion, then just barbecue / grill.

    Sorry - threadjack ended.
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: Noah Member since: Sep 1, 2009
  9. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,063 220
    Enough said.
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
  10. Lisa Thomas

    Lisa Thomas UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    2,999 357
    Who is the sole trader?

    They need to take insolvency advice.
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: Lisa Thomas Member since: Apr 20, 2015
  11. webgeek

    webgeek UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

    4,029 1,475
    You've got to be different, somehow than the rest.

    We've got one nearby convenience store which is popular because they sell ice cold drinks, both those with alcohol and those without. They've got a massive selection of drinks that you normally don't see, like American root beer and high alcohol content beers.

    We've got another convenience store down the road that has a wicked selection of baked goods. They don't just have bread and rolls - they have doughnuts and cakes and all kinds of sweet goodies.

    There's another one that has the best cup of coffee for miles. We don't have Costa or Starbucks nearby, so this is the goto place for a great cuppa.

    Some people go to shops because the workers are so happy/smiley/great looking. That's an angle that works.

    We've also got 20 or 30 other shops nearby - but I won't go back to them twice, because they have nothing I can't get somewhere else.

    Whether it's hot rolls or hot dogs, doughnuts or dog food - find something that you can do bigger, better, faster, cheaper - you need a product line and an angle. You don't have to be everything to everyone - find a niche and go deeep.
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: webgeek Member since: May 19, 2009
  12. UKSBD

    UKSBD Not a real duck Staff Member

    9,204 1,725
    I'll second the cold drinks.

    Our local high street co-op sells cans of drink which are kept in youR typical supermarket fridge.

    Local store 100 yard away sells the same cans (probably more expensive) but they are ice cold.
    I go out of my way to go get the cold ones and then buy other stuff whist in there.
    Posted: Jun 6, 2019 By: UKSBD Member since: Dec 30, 2005
  13. 2012

    2012 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    710 18
    Thanks ill let them know.

    We already do all the basics you could thinks of inc frozen lollies frozen food, Cold drinks in the 2lt ones, basic fruit veg, sacks of 25kg sack of potatoes, all chocs, crisps, sweets, basic meds, newspapers and mags , paypoint (topups, pay bills)

    We have tried a few options but with a small coverage area and so many shops we are very limited, we have tried a few things over the years but it did not lasted long before one of the other does the same, anything too different would not sell very often so we are stuck with stock for ages and the price was also a key issue.

    We have tried adding more selections but they dont either sell or or the customer dont want to pay the RRP, We use to get load of branded items like soft drinks, like coke cola, chocs ect and could sell them at half the price of retail but customer would still not buy, so we started to see no matter what we do unless the customer change or if we sell stuff for next to nothing it would not sell unless the customers needed it it.

    The only shops that does anything different is largest and they have added a butchers and household goods, the other is the one selling fakes.

    Maybe we could add other things but not much comes to mind that says yeah that will work .
    We wont know unless we try but going by the mentality its all about price.

    also new features will cost to add and my still not work.
    A lot of customer will only by thing they things they need or cant get from the other shop even if its cold.
    Posted: Jun 7, 2019 By: 2012 Member since: Sep 22, 2010
  14. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    15,600 1,719
    As opposed to not making changes - you know keeping things as they are does not work.

    Time may come to shut up shop. If the area cannot support the shop and no changes made impact enough to turn things around then pointless keeping on and working for nothing.
    Posted: Jun 7, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  15. webgeek

    webgeek UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

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    Believing customers won't become loyal buyers because of something awesome like ice cold drinks is kidding yourself. You've had two of us who have told you point blank that we choose which shops to frequent based on the availability of ice cold drinks.

    Having all the basics is good. It's unremarkable, it's not a reason to choose your shop over someone else's.

    I get that you're frustrated by a lack of success.

    Perhaps admitting that you don't have all the answers and taking on board the advice from a community of experienced successful businesspeople might be the plan, rather than discounting whatever is said.

    Find an angle that works. Maybe that's 10 flavours of slushies (like one of our local chip shops). Maybe it's 20 kinds of 0 calorie soda. Perhaps you get incredible filled rolls or tacos or Polish foods. There's probably 100 or more of these ideas you could come up with - and try.

    But try something.
    Posted: Jun 8, 2019 By: webgeek Member since: May 19, 2009

    MY OFFICE IN CHINA UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    4,305 864
    Change what the shop is selling.

    If the owners do not know the reason why sales are flagging, then there is little point in trying to teach them. It simply won't happen as they are set in their ways.

    As you have mentioned, there are similar shops in the same street vying for the same business.

    My suggestion is to convert it to an Indian take away with freshly cooked food daily in containers where customers look, select and pay, also sell tinned/packet foods that are specialised and wanted in your are . . . . . . . . . .and ICE COLD DRINKS!

    Either that or shut up shop and do something else.

    Get legal advice on the mortgage.
    Posted: Jun 8, 2019 By: MY OFFICE IN CHINA Member since: Nov 16, 2011
  17. Clinton

    Clinton UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    4,219 1,514
    UKBF is brilliant at attracting new posters who discount what people in the know are telling them - whether it's on marketing or finance or selling their businesses (which businesses, most often, are worthless by the time the poster comes here for help).

    These posters know all the answers, or they "know" there are no answers, so they come here for answers. It happens all the time. This one is different in that the poster is not a newbie.

    I know you have a friend who values businesses and whom you have often recommended in your posts. But in loss making businesses, where according to the OP there's no prospect of turnaround, what would be the point of paying to get the business valued? There is almost zero chance of finding a buyer!
    Posted: Jun 8, 2019 By: Clinton Member since: Jan 17, 2010
  18. Nico Albrecht

    Nico Albrecht UKBF Enthusiast Full Member - Verified Business

    533 81
    I completely agree on this and could not have been better said. I am from Berlin having my office in the UK next to one of those store. I almost never go in there. The products they stock do not interest me at all. I only get in there to get stuff I really need such as batteries or milk if a client drinks coffee with milk. All other stuff is ordered and stocked on a weekly base from the supermarket or amazon.

    Selling junk food such as sausage rolls and sweets won't get you too many foreign customers. 99% of their products in there I would never consider buying to start off with.
    Posted: Jun 8, 2019 By: Nico Albrecht Member since: May 2, 2017
  19. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

    8,765 3,427
    Too many UK stores just sell what the wholesaler dumps on them. Running a retail outlet is all about finding new, funky sources of goods and making sure that people know that you've got them - having stuff the others haven't got! Selling is easy! It's buying that's difficult!

    Selling is just having exciting stuff that people want and at prices people are prepared to pay. The hard part is getting that stuff!

    Two more things -

    1. The one thing that surprises me again and again and again is the British refusal to look to what other people are doing. In German "über den Tellerrand schauen!" (Look beyond the edge of the plate.)

    Historically, foreigners are remarkably good at starting and running businesses in the UK and it's time to ask why. From the local take-away to the largest supermarket chain in the UK - foreigners! If you are running a UK business or you are thinking of starting a UK business, you need to look over the edge of the plate! How do Germans, Americans, the French, Indians and the Chinese do this? Is there a better way?

    Never mind Googling the damn thing - go there! Talk to the people! Explain why you need to get inspiration from them! Work there! Understand how they do things! That's how such ideas as loyalty cards and self-service came to Britain!

    2. Smarten up! If I am invited to a failing business, nine-times-out-of-nine it's a dump! Reorganise and give the bloody place a coat of paint!

    I went to a workshop/garage a few years ago and the place looked like a dosshouse. These were great mechanics and they were charging less than the competition and they were even located on a feeder road to the town. But no one with a shiny near-new car would go anywhere near the place because it was a down-at-heel and disorganised mess. The wife of the owner did the books on the kitchen table upstairs. There was no reception and no customer coffee machine. There was no telephone discipline so calls often went unanswered. The website was a DIY'ed Moonfruit thing. Rags and dirt lay all over the place and disused cars littered the yard outside.

    (They fixed all those points and DOUBLED their turnover!)

    So to the OP - when was the place last redecorated? What's the website like? What marketing campaigns were launched in the past 12 months? Is there a fresh and funky sign outside? Do you do event-sales like "Arabic spices week - when they're gone, they're gone!" ?
    Posted: Jun 8, 2019 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
  20. 2012

    2012 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    710 18
    Thanks for the reply but I'm assuming you did not read my last reply, I did say we sell cold drinks all the drinks we sell are cold inc the 2 liter bottles, we also sell ice cream ice pops, frozen food lot more, We have more choice products then all of the other stores except one who is 3 times our size, also in all the basics I mean anything you could think of getting from your local store, if we dont have it we get it for any customer that asks, we do special requests, we even deliver to some of our older customers on request.

    We dont have as much choice as large supermarket would be have most but we have a lot more then you would expect.

    Its just thinks have changed a lot in the last few years,

    We have been thought about adding something special like slushies, fresh ice cream or warm food in the past,

    I think its the sentimentality and attachment to the store that had my parents and grand farther refusing to give up, but now they dont have much choice they need to see if they can make anything of it or give up and try something else, because before it was managing now it wont for long.

    To be honest I think the store may have some problems but I also think having 6 stores within a walking distance is a key issue here, most people will do the weekly shopping at the supermarket and only buy whats needed later, milk bread eggs, cold drinks ect or something they cant get at the supermarket which is nothing really.

    You can think Im being bitter here but to me it seam a little off, I don't think some of the others are by the book, other then the store selling fake and the largest store the others seam dead very rarely see someone going in, which to me stands out because if we are struggling with the number of people we get and the amount of choice the other should have it even harder.

    3-5 years floor was changed lighting, new equipment, paint ect.
    Posted: Jun 8, 2019 By: 2012 Member since: Sep 22, 2010
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