Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shopping in Marple - an update

There's nothing like competition to get trade moving. I mentioned here that two virtually identical shops were now trading next to one another, pictured, just opposite Rose Hill train station in Marple. A Spar, which has been here a while, and a Premier convenience store which opened in August.

On the face of it the opening of such direct competition couldn't have come at a worse time for the family that opened the Spar. For the last 6 months Marple has been locked down in the evenings for essential work on the main road in and out, thus cutting off passing trade. A bigger store, offering half price newspapers, free energy drinks and incredible discounts on milk and bread looks formidable.

We've already established that this is not a planning issue, it's a free market one. The winner takes all and the fight is very much on.

Well, I've never seen Spar the shop as busy as it is now. There seems to be a groundswell of loyalty, with punters declaring loudly and proudly they are boycotting the Raja Brothers store. The Spar owners also go out of their way to thank people for their custom, even standing outside having a cigarette, making a few punters unlikely to then swerve into the competition.

The Spar have also got the support of a Facebook page, here, and the balance of the positive sentiment on the Marple website here.

I'm less impressed with the tactics of the Premier store. The tacky dayglo handwritten posters offer schoolkids a "free energy drink" with lunch and sweets. That's not right. In fact it's horribly wrong on every level. They even make a claim that they're doing their half price paper offer for "customers" and "not profit".

There's a third effect that this stand off is having. More than a few people I know have avoided both.


MT said...

Before I read out Michael’s latest blog entry to my husband, I thought I had pretty much decided where I stood on this. Following on from last Friday when I witnessed the stand off first hand, I decided there and then that the (mediocre in my opinion) Spar, hadn’t really done that much to deserve my loyalty and I would never put myself in that intimidating environment again. Being greeted by the chain-smoking owner blowing smoke my way is not the best welcome that I have ever had, and I have never really been that overwhelmed by either their outstanding fare or brilliant customer service.

However, as my husband highlighted, this is not the point. The point is that the other store has opened up next door in direct competition to essentially ‘bully’ the Spar owners out of town. There is nothing fair about what is happening to the owners of the Spar, Raja Brothers are outrageously undercutting them and can probably afford to take a hit on the losses for as long as is necessary, whereas how long can the owners of the Spar hold out if their customers do not stand by them, it’s the only hope they’ve got really. The coexistence of the two shops cannot go on indefinitely, someone or something has to give.

Anyway, I’ve taken an about turn, it’s about what’s and right and what is decent. I’ll continue to go to the Spar when I am passing and show my support, I never could stand bullies.

Michael Taylor said...

I noticed the kids on their way to school were using Premier in great numbers.

Anonymous said...

I have always had good service and have never been "intimidated" by Mel having a smoke outside. In response to MT, I always make an effort to smile and make an effort – politeness costs nothing. Friendliness works both ways – if you engage in a bit of banter it’s often reciprocated.

Anonymous said...

I have no allegiance to the new Premier store but I do welcome the competition and I have to say that there are a number of things I dislike about the Spar.

The owner spends a lot of the time stood outside smoking, this in my opinion is not a good way to greet your customers especially if you are a non smoker. That alone is reason enough for me to visit next door!

Prior to the shop opening next door he used limit the number of school kids entering the store and didn't make them feel welcome at all, now because they are going next door he stands outside staring at them and making them very feel very uneasy. My own son has told me that he feels intimidated by him.

As previously mentioned how he can complain about a shop opening next door selling the same goods as him when he opened selling wine the same as the wine shop next door. What goes around comes around!

The owner of Spar is a business man the same as the owner of Premier, the Spar owners do not even come from Marple!

The prices are cheaper in Premier

For all the above reasons I shall be using the new Premier store.

mel said...

As the owner of the spar store in question,can i first say a huge THANK YOU for your overwhelming support.The last few months has been the most stressfull period we have ever been through but youre kind comments and words of encouragement have kept us going.I have been monitoring blogs,forums and people kindly setting up support groups,but i shall limit my responce to the comments raised on this blog.I accept my smoking may offend,and as my wife is a none smoker i have always done it outside. point taken. Feelings have been running quite high with next door trying to accost passing customers offering to undercut our prices,me being outside seemed to put a stop to it the outburt that MT witnesed was a result of them taunting and laughing at my wife.My sincere apologies
As to the outstanding fare,our shop is very small and while we try our best to cater to everybody's needs, space does not allow.Can i take the oportunity to thank you for overlooking our shortcomings and offering your support and rest assured we will do better.
I have come across a couple of remarks about us selling wine next to wine rack and youre right we never intended to do so.The decision to do so was only taken when we knew that first quench(the parent company for wine rack,threshers and the local)was heading for failure and the store closure was iminent.
The desision to limit the number of kids into the store was only taken after huge loses through theft,the majority of the kids are great and a credit to their parents.I accept i spend a lot of time outside but its not to intimidate.I have not only my family my home and my business to look after but also the jobs of five local people to protect.i need to know what next door are selling,to who and why to see if we can adapt to survive, this we can only do with the continued support from the local community and as to it being cheaper you can easily sell at a loss for as long as it takes when you have fifteen other stores to spread the loses which we cant do,and as you can see our fate is in your hands. Thank you one and all. Kind Regards Mel

Anonymous said...

Mel and pam are the kindest most generous people. They have always been super helpful and served me with a smile on their face - no mean feat considering they are up at 5.30 to prepare newspapers and work 18 hour days. I think it's really important to note that the spar is also their home, they live and contribute to the community not just take from it like raja brothers next door. They have always employed local people and have a huge respect for people. I've seen them let a host of children pensioners and others shelter in the shop out of the rain. I've also seen how devastated they have been by next door opening and threatening their business and their home. Please support them and 'cut them some slack' during this difficult time, I know I will.