As I write this article, in the background on Sky News are the tragic reports and pictures of the devastation in Japan. It’s hard not to imagine yourself in that situation; your home, your business, your family swept away in seconds.

With all this sadness to reflect upon, it doesn’t seem right to complain about the burden of the tobacco display ban, or the usual topics of rising prices, government bureaucracy, shoplifting or underage alcohol sales. Instead, I want to reflect on some of the positives of being a convenience retailer.

In June I will have been running my shops for 20 years, during which time I have had many wonderful experiences. Running a store 16 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year, wouldn’t suit many, but for me it’s been a way of life.

I must have had hundreds of staff come and go, many I retain as friends, others I have watched as they develop their own careers.

As a community retailer I know so many of my customers; some I first served in 1991. Making time to talk to them and hear their problems is part of the job and very rewarding. Serve your customers well and they will support you.

I have resisted joining a symbol group and am fiercely independent. I couldn’t imagine sitting at a PC preparing my orders I am a cash & carry junkie. There’s nothing better than assessing new lines and, importantly, getting a deal. In my younger days I was a gambler, but now ‘cherry picking’ cash & carries fulfils my gambling urges. A few weeks ago I drove for an hour-and-a-half to Hancocks to buy Coke 500ml at £9.49 and cans at £4.99, a guaranteed winner!

My passion for retailing will never wane, but sadly with my 58th birthday approaching, my body isn’t keeping pace with my enthusiasm and I have decided I would prefer to walk away from my business rather than be carried out!