Here was a turn-up for the books. Two issues back I ended with a little tailpiece highlighting the plight of a Rotherham retailer who had just learned that a shop specialising in past-their-best, short date items was to open next door.
It was to be called ‘Cheap as Chips’ (it was once a chippie) and was to offer, for example, lines such as four Lion bars for a quid. Ouch.
Hiren Patel got in touch for advice on behalf of his dad, Ranesh. I hoped to get useful feedback from readers who may have faced the same issue, but no one got in touch. So I rang Hiren again to advise him to talk to new recruiting groups such as Parfett’s Go Local Extra (especially as Ranesh shops at Parfett’s), but I got a very interesting update instead.
Ranesh had had a meeting with the incoming entrepreneur (who runs a lot of similar discounters in both Rotherham and Sheffield), together with the landlord, where he explained what was about to happen to him.
The guy, about to open, said he would sell the lease to Ranesh for £15K and that included the stock, the new shelving and counter. He gave him three days to think hard and raise the readies.
When I rang back before starting this column, the deal was done. Now Ranesh is pondering what to put there to complement his c-store, and the beautician, dentist and takeaway in the parade. Should he continue as a discounter (possibly shifting his stuff over as it gets close to best-before) or as a hardware store (never goes off)?
I suggested that he should survey his customers. His landlord doesn’t fancy a return to fish and chips (although it was good for the Patels’ business), so I suggested a café. I know a few retailers who have turned part of their store into a café area and encouraged local groups to use it as a meeting place.
Hiren has promised to keep me posted.