What I learnt from opening my first shop
Three years ago today, I was preparing to open my pop up shop called Goodfayre, I wanted to change the world, I wanted to show people a better way to shop. I wanted to bring smaller brands onto the high street and teach the world about ethical consumerism.
Now I am preparing to close the doors on my first shop in the cross keys arcade in Salisbury, and I wanted to share with you all that I learnt along the way.
I’ve learnt that it’s ok to get things wrong, mess it up and not know where to go next, crying in a heap on the kitchen floor is ok, as long as when you’ve finished you get back up and try again.
I’ve learnt you can’t say yes to everyone, because everyone is different, and trying to please the world is never achievable, but I guess if you can do all right most of the time for most people, then that is probably good enough.
I had some amazing and life changing conversations, sometimes it was as if angels had walked into the shop – at exactly the right moment to deliver me exactly the message I needed to get to the end of the day. Always be open to listening to others – you can learn a lot from the wisdom of other people.
I’ve been the first to launch many brands in the UK, something I’m very proud of, we were one of the first to Launch the Fill refill system, Mummy Meagz rocky roads bites, In fact so many of our brands were new startups and a lot of them have gone onto great success, and many of the products we sourced got picked up by supermarkets, well you saw them here first.
We’ve helped local businesses get their products into the high street, including Triangle vegan, Alexander Chocolates, popsies gifts and balanced nature – now Mighty brew.
We’ve saved a lot of plastic from going to landfill and helped local people do their bit to shop more ethically.
I’ve learnt that running a shop on your own is really hard work, people who work in shops are really undervalued and I think it is time for shopkeepers to be given more recognition and respect for the work they do. So go and give your local shop keeper a cuddle and tell them you really appreciate the work they do, and while you are in their buy something too, because we are losing our shopkeepers and that is sad, because they work really hard.
If I had a £1 for everyone who told me how fantastic my shop was and how they would become my most regular customer and never come back, I’d be a lot richer than I am now!
I’ve learnt not everyone likes what you are doing and that’s ok, not everyone likes you and that’s ok. There will always be people who hate what you are doing especially when you are trying to do something against the grain, and that is okay!
I’ve learnt ethical shopping is actually cheaper in many cases, when you compare products with the supermarkets, The supermarkets are just very good at covering this up and using clever marketing to make you think otherwise. Look deeper than the packaging or price tag, because things like product weight, ingredients and quality of the product are not always as obvious as it may seem, even before you have taken the company ethics into consideration!
I’ve learnt that everything in business is your own fault, you can walk right to the end of the plank, jump in and still find land, swim to it and find another boat, to start again, each time better equipped than the last.
I’ve learnt if you are doing something that is making you unhappy nothing is more important than your own health, both mental and physical, and you do have to make sure you are doing the right thing in life for yourself, if it feels wrong it probably is.
I’ve learnt that spending time with your family is more important than trying to save the world, I’m so lucky to have such an amazing and supportive family, When your own children describe you as “Mr busy” and “hard working” you realise there is more to life than work, you have to make time for cuddle time, no matter how busy you are.
I’ve learnt that people who are in the most desperate places can still be kind to other humans. I’ve met some truly amazing people, Salisbury is a really nice place to live and work in and we can really pull together as a community and help each other out.
I’ve learnt that being an ethical consumer is a journey, it’s not a cut and dry or black and white, it’s not a competition, it’s not that one ethical viewpoint is better than another, Whether you are a Vegan, avoiding plastic, avoiding palm oil, boycotting Nestle, avoiding fast fashion, shopping for organic only or dedicated to fair trade, whatever brought you into the ethical path, that was just the starting point on your journey, and you choose how far you go down the road and how fast you do it too, what is right for one person may not be right for another, and becoming conscious is the first step.
I’ve learnt that no matter how long you have been open you will still get people coming in who walk past your shop everyday and have only just noticed you, no matter how loudly you shout your message, it will only be heard when people are ready to listen. Then when you tell them you are closing and they ask you “why”, they don’t get the irony.
I think the best thing that happened to me personally was discovering Veganism, and discovering all the amazing vegan products and brands – Vegan power is very much alive and I’m so looking forward to it growing more and more, I have loved working with like minded people and discovering so many great and wonderful things through becoming vegan and I’d like to think I played a part in putting veganism on the map in Salisbury – which we did quite literally with the publishing of the Vegan Map of Salisbury.
We had some real high’s in the shop, We supported the Salisbury Bee trail, wake up to organic breakfast morning, giving out free breakfasts two years in a row, we Supported the First Salisbury vegan fair, published the Salisbury vegan map and small business walking tour map. We were nominated as one of the small business 100, and got to go to the House of Lords, Created the Salisbury clothes swap event, ran lots of successful events, were the first shop in salisbury to go 100% vegan, helped homeless volunteers back into work.
Nerve agent attacks are not a good thing for the city!
I’ve learnt that one person probably can’t change the world but they certainly can make a ripple and small actions definitely do make a difference. Be the change.
I want to thank everyone of my most amazing customers, you know who you are, I’m glad I could do my bit, when I could, I tried, I really did.
Also I should shout out to all my staff over the years, who have all helped along the way too, a lot of them really put a lot in and have been great with the customers too.
Someone said to me today, I bet the next person who opens a vegan and or plastic free shop in Salisbury will do really well, because everyone will be sad this has gone once it has gone, they are probably right.
I’m tired and exhausted, deflated and down but tomorrow is another day, tomorrow I’ll get up and try my best to change the world, one small step at a time – who is with me?
And I guess after all I can say, I did enough