I had an email via our website (www.convenience-store.co.uk) from Umesh, who has been troubled by school kids not using his store. Apparently, he trades opposite a school and the headteacher has taken to standing outside to prevent pupils using the shop.
"She argues that they arrive at the same time as another school and she thinks they are going to have fights," writes Umesh. "We have been here for 10 years and there have never ever been any fights outside my shop. We always had both schools coming in. Can she do this?"
As I replied to Umesh, it would be pretty difficult to stop her stopping them, although I also observed that the headteacher is lucky to be able to impose any rules on kids, either inside or outside school, these days and make them stick. I assume that this is a primary school we're talking about.
I don't think it would be constructive to get into where her authority starts and finishes. The community needs to pull together and Umesh would get unattractive headlines if it escalated into a slanging match.
I have suggested a one-to-one conversation and possibly an agreement to limit the number of school children allowed in the store at any one time. My local Costcutter does this and when you see the rowdy hordes outside at lunchtime chucking their chips at each other, you can understand why.
I also suggested a more proactive approach with the local school. I know retailers who regularly run colouring competitions and display the charming results in their store. I know others who run 'training' days, demonstrating to students just what an average day entails. Track and field days are another opportunity to show your caring catering side. I think a few bottles of water go a long way towards winning hearts and minds.
And, hopefully, the headmistress will melt and students will be able to grow up with fond memories of the sweetie counter at break time.