Our traders mean business

PUBLISHED: 10:47 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:55 11 May 2010

THE CREAM of the Royston business community donned their glad rags last week for the Royston Business Awards. The evening itself was certainly bigger and glitzier than last year s event, and much credit must go to the organisers, who in just two years, ha

THE CREAM of the Royston business community donned their glad rags last week for the Royston Business Awards.

The evening itself was certainly bigger and glitzier than last year's event, and much credit must go to the organisers, who in just two years, have managed to establish a landmark event in the calendar of the town.

It was also nice to see a wide range of different businesses being recognised for their achievements, from small organisations operated by one or two people, to bigger companies with more financial clout, but an equally high level of customer care.

As Stephen Larcombe, chairman of the Royston Chamber of Commerce, said, it certainly proves that "Royston does have a vibrant business community, in spite of the current economic climate".

One thing that all the businesses who picked up gongs had in common was that in one way or another they were prepared to be innovative, and go that extra mile - in some cases, literally - for their customers.

I think that, in this day and age, it's vital for small businesses to be prepared to do things a little bit differently to how they might have traded in the past.

People's shopping habits change, and it is no good business people not being ready to change with them.

For example, we all know there are a lot more big, multi-national, chain stores around these days, which entice customers through their doors by offering cheaper products and longer opening hours than traditional shops may have done in the past.

Sadly I believe that, in the face of this admittedly stiff competition, some small business owners have been content to sit on their laurels, shrug their shoulders, and blame the big firms for their demise.

I can understand why they hold this point of view, but complaining about the situation is not going to change it - you need to be pro-active.

It's no good shops thinking that they can still shut for an hour-and-a-half at lunch time, or hold a half-day closing every week.

Customers will just go to the nearest supermarket, or big shopping centre, instead.

I firmly believe that people prefer to shop locally, rather than supporting the conglomerates that make millions of pounds each year.

But the retailers have to meet them somewhere in the middle - that might involve cutting prices, altering opening hours, or simply creating a more modern, inviting, shopping environment, but I am sure the owners would soon reap the rewards.

Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of talk about the "death" of Royston town centre, but these awards prove that there are a lot of thriving companies in the area, operated by committed, imaginative, business people.

Now all we need to get Royston fully back on track is a few more like-minded individuals or groups to follow their lead.

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