Many small businesses will suffer in the coming weeks, months and potentially years depending on the countries financial situation after the global pandemic. A lot of small businesses are fortunate enough to have a large and lovely customer base in which they can rely on support from. Unfortunately for me, I've only had my shop open since January - 2020 turns out not to be such a good year to open a business...
Having wanted to start my own business for a few years now, I'd never found myself with 100% the right fit, business idea or being in the right financial situation. However, at the end of 2019 I found myself with the resources, business plan and structure to be able to start looking at business premise's and learning how to do all things associated with business. Hours, weeks and months of blood sweat and tears went into the business plan itself, not to mention all the other things that go with it. Opening the doors to the shop on January 4th was the proudest, scariest and most nerve racking moment I've ever experienced - but what a thrill it was.
The shop has become a real community spot: ALL my greetings cards are supplied by local artists, photographers and crafters. On top of the lovely gifts that the shop sells in store, I also have a selection of 10 local artisan crafters, all hand selected to a high standard, but more importantly all LOCAL. I try where possible to help the local community, I even display some local artists work on the walls to sell for them. I also run charity events through out the year, always fundraising for local charities who rely heavily on donations and charity events. As much as I've tried to make the shop a community hub aswell, the unprecedented times we're in means a HUGE loss to the business. As much as the shop does well instore, with people enjoying local products and gifts, it's hard to get customers to shop online with the huge competition - especially when we're only a small shop and don't have a massive product range.
January was always going to be a hard month to open in, we got by and people came in as it was a new shop - but we didn't generate as many sales as I would have liked. Then February hit, and it hit hard. The constant rain and 3 storms thrown in the mix meant that the town the shop is in was practically deserted the whole month. Sales were few and far between and the week leading up to Valentines day it was barely worth opening at all with the rain successfully keeping customers away. February turned into March and we started looking more hopeful again, we had great sales in the first two weeks. Two weeks before mothers day it looked like we might have a month that's in profit rather than a loss (finally). Suddenly Corona Virus fears started to get more serious. Stories from abroad and a look at what was to come in the UK began to come in thick and fast. In the space of only a week sales went from the best ever, to almost non-existent again. People were scared, super markets were selling out and nobody knew what would happen with jobs all over the UK. After this the schools closed and it became apparent, all other non-essential businesses will follow suit soon. Thus on Monday 23rd the nation was told to 'lock down', meaning the closure of the shop.
As much as this had been anticipated, and I'd tried to adapt, rolling out free local delivery, gift offers and the like - we still weren't making many sales. Customers were still unsure about the length and impact of Covid-19 and due to having a vulnerable person in the house, it wasn't worth the risk to continue with deliveries for the time being. Hense, the business was also locked down.
Knowing a lot of friends or other small businesses were getting breaks left right and centre from utilities companies and landlords I also thought I'd try my luck. Unfortunately nothing good came of it. I'd already paid a years upfront rent which my landlord wasn't willing to compromise on or offer any 'rent break'. Hense, it's now come down to this...
Please help a 26year olds first business dream continue to be a reality after all this is over. Many thanks so much for reading. Laura x