Singles Schmingles Day
Knock … knock … You know when they air-knock towards you to make it look like they knock on your screen, and a guy with the whitest teeth I've ever seen smiled at me on my feed. “Have you heard about the Singles Day? Last year it generated more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, and I'm here to tell you how YOU can monetise on it this year, with these five great tips!” The guy from Instagram for Business was swiped off my screen as quickly as he appeared. Urgh!
I've been in business for so long that I remember when Black Friday was introduced in the UK, by Amazon, in 2010. I didn't think much about it at the time, but the next following year I had customers coming in to my shop asking me about getting ready for it, telling me they were saving to spend on that day, and then on the day some were clearly disgruntled with me for not having obliged. That's when I started questioning myself, is this something I should do, is it expected from me, is it bad customer service if I don't?
Then the business News followed, each and every year, how much the economy had benefited from those days, how much people had spent, what a boost it has been for the retail industry. Followed by yet more questions from me – am I loosing out, is it a bad business decision not to take part? Is my small business suffering because of this? Are my principles whopping my own a**?
Oh the doubt! But you see, every time I've gone these rounds with myself, I've ended up with the same conclusion, and so has every single small business owner I've gotten to know over time, we're just not having it! And let me tell you, there are so many reasons for us not to...
We can not afford to:
Small businesses run on very different parameters than large multinational ones. We operate from actual shop premises and not warehouses. We don't have huge funds and investors at our backs, so we can't bulk buy ridiculous amounts of goods, negotiate their price to the minimum and sell them with discounts. Neither do we hike up our prices with as much profit as we can muster to make it look like we're giving away bargains when we are putting them on sale later. Small shop owners will carefully calculate the minimum we need to be able to sustain our businesses, to keep our prices steady and as low as possible so that what we sell can be accessible to most throughout the year. Also, we highly appreciate our staff. There is often a small very tight knit group behind every small business, our staff are often the ones that support us the most when times are hard, they put in the upmost effort investing both practically and emotionally in these ventures of ours, and they become close friends – the least we can do is to pay them a decent salary. Every time a small business puts on a sale, it is with a loss of income that affects the overall running of the business – Amazon and their likes don't carry loss like this, it is incorporated in their overall strategies.
As double standarded it might sound, we do run shops after all – our goal is to sell stuff right:
Well yes, and no! When I set up Knit with attitude I did so with the intention to prove that a business based on ethical and environmental principles could be sustainable. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all of those that followed, now also including Singles Day, are celebrations of mass consumerism and wasteful consumption, which we don't agree with! Like most small indy shops we take great care in sourcing and curating the products we offer you. Tried and tested, longevity, quality and craftsmanship at the forefront. We don't want you to use it once and then throw it away. We hope for you to love, treasure and cherish them again and again, for a really long time, just as we do ourselves. Also, small businesses love other small businesses, we want to encourage, support and help each other, and we do become friends. Meaning that we know where our products come from, what went into making them, and also who made them. Most of us take great pride in transparency about how we run our businesses, and we are more than happy to tell you the stories behind ourselves, the projects we are involved in and who we work with. Amazon and their likes don't!
And even more so...
Small businesses connects with and truly appreciate every single one of our customers. You guys! You make us think that someone believes in what we do and what we are trying to achieve. Every time you visit our shops and chose to buy from us you make a small shop owner's heart sing, every single time an online order comes through a small shop owner makes an internal happy dance. Sometimes we even sing loudly and dance in public! You know where I'm heading with this right? Say it with we … Amazon and their likes DON'T!