Monday, 25 January 2016 17:54

Here today, gone tomorrow

Many shops are closing around town Many shops are closing around town

There has been a new wave of shops disappearing, with empty shop windows aplenty all around Limassol. Often the closing of a place comes as a total surprise, sometimes not at all – but is always a bit sad.

“Oh pity, that was a cute shop,” you’d catch yourself thinking – then remembering with a hint of guilt that you actually never did buy anything there, but I just enjoyed looking at its pretty window.

You were probably not alone with this feeling: cute alone just does not cut it. There are many ‘cute shops’ with pretty windows and with many one tends to wonder, “Who will actually buy all that ‘stuff’?”

Seeing the speed at which shops open and close and new ones coming in their place, one doubts if any market research has been done. Were there any actual facts collected, indicating that the goods to be sold are actually needed? Are there any competitors selling similar goods? Is the location suitable? Is there a real market for the product – apart from the extended family and circle of friends and acquaintances, who have all vouched their support?

I totally see the beauty of closely-knit, large families, but often wonder whether they aren’t more of a curse than a blessing when it comes to running a business. More often than not, they are involved from the start: the not-perfectly-located-but-cheap shop belongs to an aunt who has dropped the rent even further; the renovations were done by a friend of a friend who is not a professional, but could be hired at a lower rate; the shop assistant may not be representing the shop perfectly, but again, she’s a distant relative who really needed the job and is ‘flexible’.

With lots of family support and resources and ‘specialist’ advice and heartfelt encouragement, the shop is opened with much enthusiasm.

The marketing is again done by friends and relatives who mean well, but are all very busy. And as they are offering their help for free, surely they cannot be expected to finish that website all too soon, to post on that Facebook page all the time… a vicious circle of below-average or no pay in return for a below average quality of service.
True, this may not always be the case, but – gathering from the stories I hear and conversations with ambitious shop owners I have – it often is.

And it’s not even a phenomenon only among small shops. I have even talked to people running big businesses where one would think someone has surely thought of a monthly marketing budget, who tell me of all the ‘family support’ they get. Unfortunately, everyone is ‘a little busy’ now, but in any case it always takes some time to get business.

Unless the shop has to close again before that, which will means lots more work, effort and – yes – still considerable amounts of money down the drain. Money that, if it had been spent more wisely on proper market research and marketing, would have helped the place to stay around.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of January 22, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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