Tuesday, 22 November 2011

We'd Like To Help You Learn To Help Yourself

The Christmas Late Night, taking place this Friday from 6pm, is a well established local tradition in Worcester Park.

So too, unfortunately, is the annual tradition of blog readers moaning and whingeing about it before and after the event - not enough stalls, the wrong type of stalls, too many stalls, not fun enough, not sufficiently like a German Christmas market, not enough shops taking part, the wrong type of shops taking part. I could go on.

And so I received this comment on the blog yesterday:
"Maybe if they actually spoke to more/all traders we could make the event even bigger. I know for a fact 4 independent retailers were not even approached."
As for whether every single retailer has been approached to take part, I am not in a position to say. The fact remains that this event has been heavily publicised here on the blog and on posters up and down Central Road and in shop windows etc. These posters have a contact phone number for the Traders Association which organises the event (and welcomes all local retailers getting involved) and if anyone contacts me about it I will always pass the enquiry on to the right person.

If there are any local traders still wringing their hands complaining that nobody has personally approached them to get involved then this is, quite frankly, a pretty feeble excuse. If there really are any shopkeepers who will be pulling down the shutters at 5pm on Friday and going home to cry themselves to sleep because there are going to miss out on the big crowds in Worcester Park and a golden opportunity to give their own business a boost then I pity them.

I pity them not because they will be losing out on business but that I pity them because they lacked the motivation and energy (and it would have taken very little of either) to pick up the phone, get themselves involved and get their business talked about locally.

I am all for supporting local businesses, but if local businesses do not take simple steps to help themselves then I will not, quite frankly, lose any sleep over that. Business is undeniably tough - those who have the energy to promote themselves, those who seize the opportunity to be involved in events like the late night (and actually do something creative to promote themselves before and during it) will thrive, or at very least survive during this recession. Those who do not will whither away into an obscurity that is partly of their own making.

I try to do whatever I can to support local businesses who have the enthusiasm and basic marketing nouse to engage with the Blog and recognise it is a great opportunity to drum up some local business, and likewise I always support those businesses who step forward and get involved in great community events like the Late Night on Friday.

Yet I have also witnessed so many businesses locally, and elsewhere, who believe that all they have to do to keep going is open at 9 and close at 5 and custom will magically come their way.

So as you go about your business this Friday night and beyond, look out for those local traders who have the get-up-and-go to actively promote their livelihoods, and make sure you reward their efforts in whatever way you can. And don't worry about those who haven't - they sill have time to learn.