At this moment, I am extremely happy with myself for three very good reasons.
- I have just completed my very first blogging challenge and competition
- I have found a very worthy winner
- I am excited to share so many lessons with you.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this post, I would just like to express my appreciation to all my readers. The beauty about this space are the limitless possibilities of creative expression. I am thoroughly enjoying this process. Thanks for your support!
Anyway, on with my post. Today, 3rd December 2016, I launched my very first Small Business Saturday Blogging Challenge and Competition. The intention of the competition is to support small businesses and also highlight great emerging brands.
I have never before just gone out to objectively shop and observe customer service, this was a new experience for me and it is an experience I encourage more of us do. It is amazing what you observe and how you easily connect with people. This experience was also great because I freely, without any limitations was able to accept every experience (good or bad) without getting overly emotional about it.
This year I was only able to cover:
- East London
- South East London
- South London
- North London
I visited, Redbridge, Greenwich, Streatham, Brixton, Tottenham, Stratford. I was able to visit over 100 stalls and businesses across a variety of sectors, but there was one stand-out retailer for me in regards to customer service, which I will announce soon.
My overall experience
When I started this challenge and competition, I entered it with an open mind and heart. I intended to identify as many shops as possible with the Small Business Saturday poster or signage in their shop window and just observe and/or purchase, as well as see how they dealt with other customers. I also received nominations!
I have to say that I was extremely disappointed with the lack of independent stores that displayed a poster. I am intrigued and I ponder the following questions:.
- Are they participating?
- Are they aware of the campaign?
- Do they consider themselves a small business?
I would honestly like to know.
However, what was also interesting was my varying interactions with retailers. Unfortunately, human interaction seems to be a dying skill and I was shocked at how many Shop Owners/ Assistants/ Helpers barely looked up from their screens when I walked through the door, and if they did, the interaction was little more than a ‘You okay?’ and back to their screens.
(They may have been tweeting to people to come down to their store – the irony).
I did not purchase anything from those retailers.
Another interesting thing is the dynamics within the boroughs. My two fave boroughs were Brixton and Greenwich. The community spirit in those boroughs is amazing. They both have a tangible sense of who they are. They differ greatly from each other but are equally compelling and welcoming. I liked and appreciated that a lot.
Just as an aside:
When I visited Brixton, I went to Windrush Square, where there was a selection of marquees. As I walked pass many stalls, most of them smiled and were inviting. But the lady from Fourchette Creole was so compelling it made me happy. With a beautiful smile, her ‘patter’ was:
“Would you like to try something nice to eat?”
She was warm and welcoming; you could not help but stop and engage. Loved her! And yes I purchased some food.
There were a number of businesses that impressed me, but the two I really enjoyed were:
Corkville in Greenwich and The Indigo Tree in Streatham.
Corkville, when I entered the store, the lady was on the phone. Literally within 15 secs she hung up, turned on her music and started to look after her customers, who had just entered. I tried on a couple of pairs of boots, (which I need to go back and purchase), but her knowledge and customer service was wonderful. The store layout was easy to navigate and all in all a very good experience.
The Indigo Tree. First, I have to say that I had no intention of visiting Streatham, it was only because last night I saw a video on Facebook by Chuka Umunna and his campaign to support small businesses that I decided to go there.
As I was walking up Streatham High Road, I was about to walk pass the shop when I noticed the Small Business Saturday Poster. It was low down, but visible. When you walked in the store, it was a combination of household decorations and greeting cards – I would call it Lifestyle Store. The atmosphere was homely, yet really professional. Their products are perfect gifts for people you love. But what was really good was the customer service.
- I was ‘upsold’ a frame – I had no intention of buying but purchased it because it was not done in a pushy way.
- The staff was young, friendly and really relaxed.
- They had good old fashion etiquette. A young man would open and close the door for the customers. Nice touch!
So we are proud to announce the winner of the: 2016 Marketing With Love Blogging Challenge COMPETITION is
THE INDIGO TREE
MY PERSONAL FINAL THOUGHTS
This post is one of two parts. In part 2, I will share with you the tactics you can implement to maximise on Small Business Saturday for your business.
In the meantime, congratulations to The Indigo Tree and thanks to the businesses who shared their information. For those of you, that I did not visit, I will visit soon.
I have been spurred on to make this an annual campaign and I already have friends, who want to participate with me. If you want to nominate a business, follow us on any of our socials or here to find out when the details for entry are released. Hi, my name is Nicola and this is my blog. Enjoy!