An owner of a local shop popped by for a chat today - he delivers, free of charge to anyone within 2 miles as long as the order is over £10.
That's what his advertising says.
In reality he keeps an eye on the elderly, ill and disabled, and makes sure they have everything they need. He makes sure they have food in, and that if they have difficulty cooking, someone can do it for them. If he can't provide, he knows a-man-who-can.
In his freezer in the back of his shop, he keeps a secret stash of ready-meals that his wife and daughters cook, that he likes to surprise people with for free. He's quite famous for walking into a home and saying cheekily "C'mon missus, where's that cooker, lets get this this crap warmed up!" in a rather silly sounding broad Yorkshire accent.
When I was ill not long back, when he saw The Bear was a bit fed up when she went to his 6am 'till 10:30 shop, he shoved one into her hand, telling her " 'Ere you are Old Bear, that'll put some lead in 'is pencil". It's only when she got home and looked at the receipt she realised he had scribbled on the bottom "No charge for the pickmeup xx"
Pick me up? It nearly blew my bloomin' head off...... :)
At Christmas, he pops in a bottle of white wine in for "his ladies" and "something a bit stronger" for "his gentlemen"
Amrik ("call me Mick") has done handsomely having a business model like that. So has his daughter Meeka ("call her Mick too!") a couple of miles away, and his other daughter Nina runs her businesses the same way.
"Nowt t'do with business" he insists firmly. "It's our way. Family first. If I didn't do it, who would they have?"
Last Christmas the local Tenants and Residents Association (TARA) decided to provide enough for the over 65's from their funds from contributions to ensure they had food for Christmas dinner. A chicken, tinned fruit and condensed milk, sunflower oil, tinned salmon and soups, tinned potatoes and carrots, gravy cubes and Christmas pud, tinned ham, that sorta thing.
They held a meeting to discuss it, and a buffet was provided by a local English owned Chinese takeaway business. For that buffet, they were presented with a bill for £1,500 pounds. For less than 50 people, and £500 over budget. When they refused to pay the extra £500, the proprietor complained loudly to the local council yelled at TARA meetings and made all sorts of dire threats. His shop is now closed. Boycotted, if you like :)
'Mick' on the other hand, provided everything for the over 65's at wholesale cost, no profit to him. As long as someone else did the delivery. But on Christmas Eve he was out on his rounds, checking his "Ladies and Gentlemen" had everything they needed.
And he was open Christmas Day.
Now, an Asda has opened 15 minutes away, as The Bear wombles. Next door to my daughters school, and 5 mins from my sons home. (The pupils are banned). Heck is it cheap. And ye small gods, it's open 24 hours.
We've used a Tesco Express, 10 mins. away by bus now and again. Across the road from the doctors, and convenient for milk, salad stuff and Oxo's.
I was explaining that to Amrik (Mick) perhaps with a tinge of conscience. He explained.
"I own that bit of land at the bottom - the pub that was demolished after a riot 25 years ago? I'm waiting for planning permission to come through. There'll be houses, flats and shops."
"I own the gym, dance studio, furniture shop, pet shop, fishing tackle shop and I've done a deal with the chippy"
"Don't think the big supermarkets can do what we do. If I was worried about competition, I wouldn't do it."
He's got a point. The Big Boy competition spends millions on it's advertising, appealing to petrol buying, car driving customers. Yet their a tiny proportion of the population. More, their a proportion of the population who spend more on petrol getting to a supplier than they'll spend over a week. Daft. The lost legs generation.
The size of the car park of the local new Asda is bigger than the store. Crazy.
Take a walk to a local shop. Stop, chat, and you'll be surprised how much you'll save.