This blog was written by Luke Bunger at the Hub in Walsall. To find out more about the Hub – click here.
The Hub – putting the Local Community First
You may have noticed that a lot of big chains have disappeared recently. Gone are national institutions like Woolworths, no longer can you “pop down” to Zavvi or Borders. I recently read that there were 40 more empty retail units in Walsall today than this time last year. It seems that no-one is immune. Especially in niche markets.
Indeed, few have been hit harder than the Christian book trade. The collapse of IBS-STL and closure of the SPCK bookshops, and many independent book shops has certainly changed the landscape.
To many, opening up a new Christian bookshop in this climate may seem like a fools errand, but we don’t see it that way. We believe that what we do is important, vital even, both to the local Church, and the community of Walsall in general.
So... Why shop Locally?
Local Shops Support Local People.
It may seem obvious, but it’s true. With so many large employers going out of business, and laying off staff, supporting your local shops guarantees work for people in your community.
Let’s be honest, most of these big companies didn’t close because of mistakes made in local branches, but rather, your local branches of these stores were closed because of mistakes made by people hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles away, and that just doesn’t seem fair to us.
Local Shops Help Local Communities.
By shopping with us, you help keep money in the economy of the West Midlands. Our shop, head office, and everything are all right here in Walsall. The taxes, rent and rates we pay all put money right back into your community. It helps redevelop our towns, and helps your local council do more for you. Every pound you spend with us directly benefits the town where you live.
Local Shops Means More of What You Want.
Everything we sell is selected and chosen by the staff in our shop. We don’t have any national or international buyers trying to dictate what the “next big thing” will be. We listen to you, our customers, to try and find the things that interest the people of the West Midlands. We let you choose what you want the next big thing to be.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re listening to our suppliers, to try and introduce you to new things we think you may like, but, at the end of the day, we’re independent, and the only people we need to answer to are our customers.
Local Shops Means Talking to Real People.
We love the internet, and we do everything we can to make it work for us. We buy online ourselves, and when it works, it can be brilliant, but when things go wrong, who do you turn to? Between the premium rate 0870 numbers, the international call centres, and automated email responses, getting the right answer can be a real nightmare.
By buying local, your questions are answered by real people, every time. When you call our local (not just “local rate” number) the phone is answered by the same people you see in store. The same goes for emails. And of course, you’re very welcome to drop by and speak with us in person too. We make all the decisions ourselves, and our staff are free to do whatever we need to do to make things right, so rest assured, your compliments and praise (as well as your complaints and criticism) will never be passed off to anyone else. We listen, in person, every time.
Local Shops Mean Better Deals.
Buying online, or at large Chain stores can certainly seem to be the attractive offer. There is no sugar coating it, their prices appear, at face value at least, to be lower. So how is buying in store a better deal?
Well, to begin with, the price we display is the price you pay. When shopping online, the price you see is often not what you end up paying. By the time you have added shipping costs and other unforeseen expenses the price you pay can often end up being the same, if not more than at local shops.
But even when the price you pay is that little bit cheaper, there is more to it than that. Online and Chain stores are rarely able to offer you the personalised service you receive in a local shop. We want to help you get the right product, first time, every time, and if not, we want to make sure exchanging a product for something more suitable is quick, simple and painless. That is simply not something that online retailers can boast about.
Often, it’s impossible to know if an item is suitable until you have seen it. We’ve all heard the old adage “never judge a book by it’s cover” and yet that is exactly what online retailers are asking you to do. At a local store, we do not only allow, but encourage you to take time to browse our products. Pick them up, have a look through, see if the book, card or gift is all it appears to be. Haven’t got it in stock? We can order most books in for you “to view”. No online retailer will allow you to do that. If you want to see an item, you’re going to have to pay for it. Not what you thought it was? They more than likely getting it back will be at your expense too. And that really doesn’t seem fair to us.
And, since you’re talking to real people, if you do find a product cheaper online, feel free to speak to us about it. Who knows, we may be able to match, or even improve on it... Especially on bulk purchases.
Local Shops Mean More Relevant Promotions.
As an independent book shop, we are free to promote whichever books we see fit. While our partners do provide us with some brilliant promotions, which change every month, we also secure special promotions on books that are relevant to our local customers.
So, if you know of an artist who is performing locally, author who is appearing at a nearby church, or a book which is being studied by a Walsall reading group, let us know, and we can try and promote it in store.
Unlike the large online suppliers, who tend to “promote” only those books which they have brought in bulk, and aren’t selling otherwise, we are able to actively promote products which we are sure you will love.
Local Shops Give Suppliers, Artists and Authors a Break.
Did you know that “The Shack” one of the best selling Books of the decade, was self published? It’s true. William P Young simply couldn’t find a publisher, so he did it alone, getting his first break in local bookshops and through word of mouth.
There is lots of untapped talent in the West Midlands, and local shops help bring that talent to life. So if you’re a budding author, artist or craftsperson, show us what you’ve got, and we’d be more than happy to help give you your big break.
Local Shops are out there.
So if you’re sitting there reading this, wondering how you can support your local stores, give us a call, or drop by, and see what your local independent shops have to offer you
To find out more about The Hub in Walsall, click here or call Luke in 01922 278115
Member since: 10th July 2012
My name is Alex Murray. I am passionate about what goes on in and around Walsall. I hope you find my blog to be interesting and thought provoking. Please feel free to give me your feedback.