Bigger is not always better
Make the switch to supporting a small business and it will provide you with something a big, soulless supermarket can’t – personal service
Small businesses are the backbone of any country’s economy. This cliché is bandied about so frequently that most of us don’t even hear it any more. But as with most clichés, this one is also true. You just have to look at the figures. In 2011, South Africa had 5 579 767 small business owners – that’s roughly 10% of the total population involved in entrepreneurship.
The total number of small businesses was slightly higher because a few of those entrepreneurs had more than one business.
Of the 5.5 million businesses, nearly 80% were retailers – selling something in the same form it was bought in – while a little more than 20% were service providers offering skilled services such as hairdressing or accounting.
Nearly two-thirds of these businesses were run from home and accounted for nearly 12 million jobs.
These are amazing statistics and yet five out of every seven new small ventures go out of business in a year.
So here’s the question: Do you actively support small business or is the anonymity and abundance of large supermarkets and retailers your cup of tea?
Yes, shopping for dreary items like soap, flour and milk is easier to do at a large supermarket, and the prices are mostly better than at small retailers.
We nevertheless ditched our habit of shopping at Woolies almost a year ago – the main reason was cost and impulse buying – but it has made a significant difference to our lives. We’ve saved thousands of rands, and doing without our go-to shop has forced us to change to small, independent retailers.
Now we are proudly supporting the small businesses in our area as they provide something the big, soulless supermarkets can’t – personal service.
The guy in the local hardware shop can answer a plethora of weird questions about pipes, paint and plugs, whereas the very polite guy in the superstore can do little more than find the plugs.
We like being greeted at the door of the local cheese store and that the owner asks after our kids and gives us a taste of the new cheeses in stock.
We can order the quantity we want and there’s no awful clingwrap in sight.
The biggest difference between large and soulless and small and friendly has been the level of service.
We get a raw, unfriendly deal in most of the big shops – untrained, rude staff and nonexistent managers.
It always feels that they are just after our money and could not give a damn about our experiences in their stores.
So we’re voting with our wallets and switching to small businesses.
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A fresh produce market can offer quality fruit and vegetables and service with a smile