Captain Vigilante

Not many people know this – but just as the owners of an independent store decided to pull down the shutters for good, the postman called.

He delivered the news that the store had been judged by a respected trade body to be an excellent example of local retailing and had won the 2008 regional award for the best shop and post office

The prestigious award process had taken time but instead of joy, the news of the success and the decision to close became a bitter pill for the hard-working couple to swallow.

The irony was not lost on the owners who were not slow to use the local newsletter to register their disappointment at the lack of support given to the store by the local community.

== IRONY. ==


The body awarding the prize is blameless. They had correctly seen that the store ticked all the boxes – and some. The innovating retailers had invested in the business and then brought fresh thinking to it.

The owners had become involved in the local community and they believed they had created a business model which would work. But the premises are now on the market.

People of experience bestowed the title of ‘Shop Of The Year’ on the business. Was the current financial meltdown the cause of the closure? This seems hardly likely since all the evidence proves that footfall at local stores is increasing.


The wholesaler revealing this story suggested that it should be filed as a case history, to be dusted off and brought out with others for the next Competition Commission inquiry forecast for 2013.

Collated case histories of the individual human experience leading to shop closures, he said, should go before the Regulator backing up the excellence of the FWD submission. Crumbling corner shops deserve to close. But well run innovative stores….?

Instead of employing expensive economists to argue at the CC against other highly-paid economists hired by the giant corporates – you’ll never win – the lobbyists may do better with documented case studies of closure.

Why did sales decline?

Was the wholesaler simply unable to service the store at the right price – there’s the nub of it all.

Case histories could prove the reality.


Classical music, played through small but powerful loudspeakers, is the next big idea to counter the negative impact of youngsters hanging around outside small stores at night.

Welsh retailers report that it does not take many bars of a Beethoven symphony to persuade these intimidating groups of young people to move on.

Cheaper and more effective than the Mosquito buzzer, they say.

Vigilante can suggest some effective music. Try some grotesque Schoenberg or any Harrison Birtwistle or John Cage. Vigilante cannot accept any responsibility for frightening off paying customers.

But steer clear of Wagner. The strong emotional throb of his music, once absorbed into a troubled teenage brain, may provoke a course of action bringing unintended consequences.

== MACE. ==

Middle class customers may not be pleased with the new Waitrose strategy of rebranding 1,450 own label products and cutting the prices of 450 lines.

“Tesco is the place for that,” whispered Vigilante’s favoured veteran Waitrose check-out lady.

The identity and personality of Waitrose is wrapped up in high quality and top pricing.

In contrast, identity in the small shop sector is determined by the personality of the owner (or lack of it) or by the symbol signage.

For years a thriving shop round the corner from Vigilante Towers was known to everyone in the neighbourhood as ‘The Mace’. But locals continued to refer to ‘The Mace’ for two years or more after new owners joined another symbol group then became unaffiliated – and finally closed the business.

== MUSHY. ==

Learn from the big boys – they did not get to being big by accident. Sainsbury says shoppers are buying more comfort food such as mushy peas – an under-rated delicacy.

Independents, it is said, should be able to make about 28% POR on their own label mushy peas.

What about a Local Mushy Pea Day? Suppliers could put their hands in their pockets for a kitty, independents could make a decent sum and the nation would feel more comfortable.


When you finally enter the House of Commons – having survived the intense security screening – the visitor cannot fail to be impressed by the sense of history ringing out from the hallowed walls of this cathedral of democracy.

Mixing with newsagents, many from distant counties, this awareness of great life-changing happenings was obviously shared.

They were there for the NFRN reception to protest at the proposed tobacco display ban.These people are running small shops. Livelihoods are at stake here. Their eloquent condemnation of this gross malfunction of a hapless Government on its last shaky legs was resolute.

More than 80 MPs were present – a phenomenal number. They were impressed. With this one single powerful message to Parliament, the NFRN could swing the debate and defeat the proposed ban.

Vigilante predicts this will happen.


Born of a recession in the 1990s, the FWD Take Home Blueprint educational guide for independents with an off-licence is breaking wholesaler records.

With proven long-term benefits it is the perfect solution to the retailers’ need to increase sales in the meltdown. More wholesalers than ever are nominating stores for the ‘Blueprint makeover’.

Retailers get a guarantee of higher sales – a ray of light in the gloom.

== WALKERS. ==

Think tank campaigners leading the Federation of Wholesale Distributors’ My Shop is Your Shop campaign are hugging themselves as their pioneering community ideas are recognised by an increasing number of suppliers and wholesalers.

MSYS warmly notes the Walkers trade promotion with cash prizes for independents to be passed on to fund local community projects.

The style was designed and implemented by MSYS in 2006.Another supplier recognises that ‘Community MSYS-style’ works. Good for Walkers, good for independents and good for communities.

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