Extremes of Fountain Pen Retailing
September 4, 2010 § Leave a comment
A family, researching fountain pens on-line, found PenFountain.com as a retail business in Cranleigh, Surrey. Despite only living about 12 miles away, they had never been to the village and came over to look for a pen for a special birthday present. As I have said previously, we both enjoy the selling experience. Us asking the questions and helping customers to make decisions about which pen to buy, and customers enjoying the chance to experience different pen and nib combinations. It is not a speedy process and part of the enjoyment is establishing a rapport with the customers and their entourage. The family in question settled for a couple of Parker Pens and then asked advice as to where they could find other significant gifts and a good cup of coffee in the Village.
The net result is a plus for the retailers of Cranleigh as a whole.
The flip-side is that, during our customer’s deliberations, one of our regulars, working with the Rotary Club of Cranleigh, came in and in the course of our conversation I asked about progress on a proposed shoppers guide sign for the Village. The response was predictable. The chains stores, which are currently threatening the existence of the village by pushing the independents out of business, could not be bothered with supporting the shoppers guide initiative, while the independents have supported it almost universally. In my opinion, the majors should be putting up the lions share of the cost, bearing in mind that, to a man, they all fanfared their arrival with assurances of how they wanted to support the local community. WH Smith even cynically ‘sponsored’ the re-planting of some decorative flower beds – providing the flowers were in their corporate colours!
The net result is a minus for Cranleigh – no support for visitors, and the threat of yet another homogenous High Street.
If you want to see a thriving and varied high street in a pretty location, we’re still worth a visit and there are plenty of alternatives to the usual high street rogues.