Small independent businesses are the lifeblood of towns and cities up and down the country and here in Canterbury that is especially true. With nearly 50% of all businesses in the city centre Business Improvement District (BID) area classed as independents, the city has an amazing array of unique, interesting and specialist businesses.
Small Business Saturday, which takes place on 6th December, is a national campaign to encourage local people to use their small independent businesses and to make sure that they survive in their neighbourhood: use them or lose them!
In Canterbury, the city is blessed with an enormous range of independent businesses from coffee houses like Kitch in St Peters Street and Burgate Coffee House; to jewellers like Luke Goldsmith, Justin Richardson and Ortwin Thyssen; and from specialist shops like Whatever Comics and Madame Oiseau chocolatier to restaurants like Marlowes and Café du Soleil.
Canterbury Connected BID Chief Executive, Bob Jones says
‘The secret of running a small business is a laser like focus on the customer. The big brands will have teams of people and enormous budgets to get their proposition right; just look at the ‘ad war’ the major retailers are waging right now on our televisions.
Small businesses don’t have a fraction of that resource so they have to be smarter and closer to the customer all the time. They will also be expert at what they do and that gives the customer confidence as well as having a real relationship with someone they trust and will do business with, on a personal basis, over a long time.
As a BID we are very aware of how tough business can be for independent traders. One of the things we offer is a free directory entry on the MyCanterbury platform which has 16,000 users to give our independents the same on-line capacity as some of their national competitors here in Canterbury.
We are really lucky in Canterbury to have so many excellent independent businesses and we will do everything we can to support them.’
Small business owner Dan Grimwood who runs the Refectory Kitchen is a good example of how small businesses have to be flexible and are able to respond quickly to changing circumstances.
In 2012 Dan was running his business as a sandwich bar in St Dunstans Street in the city but with the arrival of Sainsbury and the widening of the pavement outside his premises, Dan saw both a threat and an opportunity.
‘Sainsbury was always going to make life more difficult for me and so I looked at the potential of my, very old, building, which I am lucky enough to own, and of the changing area. We opened up redundant space on the ground floor and over two years we moved to selling coffee, snacks and lunches rather than sandwiches. In the last 3 months we have also started to offer a fine dining evening experience from Thursday to Saturday and this has worked really well for us.’
Note: Canterbury Connected Business Improvement District (BID) was launched on 13th October 2014 following a successful ballot of all the businesses in the city centre. In its first six weeks, the BID has delivered Christmas lights and marketing, additional street cleansing and launched a free Directory service on the MyCanterbury platform for levy paying businesses as well as a service to help reduce levy payer’s utility bills.
For any queries, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information about about Small Business Saturday why not watch the presentation below