business studies

New Scheme

This is a draft of my newly accredited scheme (only in my head) for shops that consistently display terrible standards of customer service. I didn’t really like the word ‘boors’but couldn’t think of anything else that would rhyme with floor. The sticker is to be placed on the doors of shops, coffee shops, etc.

Help me help you! I don’t want fake niceness or not being given my own space ‘Can I help you?Well just give us a shout if you need anything?‘ and I don’t think the customer is always right either, but just a basic bit of banter or a thanks very much or basic bit of interaction would be nice even once in a while.


how can we sing our song in a strange land?

I has been on a bit of a downer this week after spending last week in and around Dublin.

There are many reasons why I feel down but the main one is that just don’t feel as creative here in Belfast-Lisburn, I just don’t feel as inspired and free to make things or see new possibilities and this gets me down. I try drawing but don’t want to experiment and then get stuck in a rut, a bad rut. I hate the stuff I do and want to rip it up (which I nearly did yesterday afternoon).
I try writing a song but can’t get past the first two lines.

That is not meant to be a slight on either Lisburn-Belfast, I guess you can’t help who you love. You can try and give it a go, a sort of arranged marriage of sorts but it might be a unhappy arranged marriage at that.

The light, colours, angles, are all wrong. Nothing seems to fit properly and the shadows creep in all the wrong corners.  Everything is green and overhangs the pavement.

business studies

closing up shop

I’m reading through my blog again looking for leads and ideas. I saw a post from the 25th July 2010 when I listed all the shops on the main shopping street of Lisburn. The shops with a line through it are the shops that have closed in the two years since.

1  River Island
2  Burton
3  Specsavers
4  The Body Shop
5  Nationwide
6  The Mortage Shop
7  Edinburgh Wool Mill
8  Green’s
9  Daltons
10 Birthdays
11 Thorntons
12 Hedleys
13 Superdrug
14 B&M Bargains
15 H Samuel
16 Boots
17 Barclays
18 O2
19 Jessops
20 Topshop
21 Eason
22 Cafe Koko
23 Waterstones
24 Bon Marche
25 Holland & Barretts
26 Santander
27 Mothercare
28 Ulsterbank
29 Priceless Shoes
30 Ulster Star
31 Orange
32 Game
33 Thomas Cook
34 Halifax
35 Yellow Door

So almost 1/6th of the shops present have closed in little over 2 yrs.

business studies

Jesus and beef shin

The butcher looked genuinely happy to see me and kept on calling me ‘Sir‘.
Is that all sir?’ he said.
I started laughing and said ‘I’m not used to people calling me sir‘ and the butcher said that old habits are hard to break and that you would have got a slap on the head if you didn’t call people sir years ago.

I told him that I hadn’t noticed the butcher before and he said that there actually used to be another one in the village and then I thought I’d say the word ‘Tesco’ just to see what would happen and he said ‘Tesco? They just do whatever they want..’

I had a similar experience from my nearest butcher who said ‘Tesco? If they were running the country I’d vote for them tomorrow…but they’re hoods‘ ….or words to that effect.

The butcher I was talking to today was only too eager to help but this  made me sad because you got a sense that he was eager to make the most of every new customer that comes through the door and make sure it counts purely to make sure the business survives.
I’m glad he was nice but I hate to think that he’s having to be extra, extra nice and helpful because supermarkets have come in and taken his custom.
Maybe that is the law of business, the law of competition and fighting for customer share etc etc but it seems more like the powerful against the weak and it doesn’t seem to be particularly helpful for community as the people who can’t compete get left behind and forgotten about, and what is Christian about that?
Suddenly the street is boarded up and all the economic life has shifted to the other side of town, freedom and choice have disappeared from your town or village and another big box appears near a roundabout a few miles away.
G.K. Chesterton had this to say about big shops

The truth is that the monopolists’ shops are really very convenient–to the monopolist. They have all the advantage of concentrating business as they concentrate wealth, in fewer and fewer of the citizens. Their wealth sometimes permits them to pay tolerable wages; their wealth also permits them to buy up better businesses and advertise worse goods. But that their own goods are better nobody has ever even begun to show; and most of us
know any number of concrete cases where they are definitely worse.

All I’m saying is that although I only popped into this particular butcher for the first time today I care for him or worry about what will happen if the local supermarkets continue to drain business.
I would hate to think that because I chose to buy my meat in a supermarket (that already makes billions of pounds in profit per year) he would be struggling to make a living or make it work.

(rant coming…
Which makes me wonder why our local politicians think it’s a particularly good idea to charge extra for parking in towns. If you’re having a revenue shortfall don’t charge people for parking in their town centre while allowing planning permission for huge stores on the outskirts of town which don’t charge parking. Tax the huge stores per parking space per year if you are going to charge people for parking in a town centre or else don’t charge people for people for parking in town centres. Fair is fair.
There are few butchers in Lisburn city centre and it is no surprise because why would you circle around looking for a car parking space,
put in 30 or 40p,
walk 5mins to get to the butcher,
and then carry your meat back before the traffic warden snares you for being a few minutes late?
Why would someone be bothered when they could  just pop up to Tesco, park for free and run in and run out? )

english lit, geography

A Room of One’s Own (but maybe not in Lisburn)

I was having a coffee on Bridge St. Lisburn yesterday morning when who should pop in for a 80p filter coffee than Virginia Woolf.
She sat down and started staring at the art on the wall, paintings of local attractions such as Dobbies, Co-op and Glasgow’s carpets.
Virginia looked distracted, like she wanted to be somewhere else, like she was dreaming of a room of her own.

Perhaps a room with a painting of Jeffer’s bakery on it…