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

CityPress - - Opportunity Index - YVONNE GRIM­BEEK and GAYLE ED­MUNDS projects@city­

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.


A fresh pro­duce mar­ket can of­fer qual­ity fruit and veg­eta­bles and ser­vice with a smile

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