Remember when you were a kid, and your Mum used to send you off to the local shop to pick up some milk or a paper?
You’d set off walking, coin in hand, and step in to a local shop which seemed to sell everything.
If you are the same age as me (nearly 50!) you probably have memories of a village store which sold everything from shoe polish to baked beans, bleach to cling film, and a handful of fruit and vegetables.
Am I taking you back to better days?
A generation ago, we didn’t have big superstores demanding all our cash and plying us with exotic foodstuffs like guavas and peri-peri sauce.
We had a basic grocers, a butcher, a baker and (if we were lucky) a village or corner shop stocked with the basics.
We had to go from shop to shop to get what we needed, rather than stepping in to superstore to do our dry cleaning, process our photographs, pick up a prescription and buy toilet paper all in one go.
I’m not denying the amazing convenience of having everything we need under one roof. There’s something about the major supermarkets that always stuns me a bit when I sweep through the automatic door with my trolley.
The stores seem to get bigger and bigger, and most stock items which I didn’t even know existed, let alone needed, a few years ago.
When I was younger, the village shop operated as the hub of the community, and people took a trip out to it to catch up on local news and see other people as much as they did to pick up a loaf of bread.
Do you ever get the feeling that we are missing out on something good, with the advent of mass consumerism?
Love it or hate it, we are evolving, and the simple village store is one of the casualties of this evolution.
When I think about blogging, however, it makes me see that we still have ways of developing a sense of community, even if that community is now ‘virtual’ – conducted entirely online.
Does a small business blog serve the same function as the traditional village store used to?
Our homepage is our shop front, and the fonts and colours we use represent our wares as surely as the sign outside the shop. We invite people in beyond the front page and open up subjects for conversation, displaying our wares just as if we had shelves to put them on.
People often comment that the web is destroying community values, but the online revolution is simply replacing traditional ways of shopping and building relationships with new ones.
When we blog, there is a community out there which we are looking to engage.
People shop online, use the web for advice and guidance, and browse for subjects which interest them. They do research, forge relationships and discuss news just as we used to do when we traipsed down to the village shop for our pint of milk.
The next time you think back to the good old days of the village shop, consider just how much interaction and community development you’ve achieved on your small business blog, and ask yourself if those traditional values have really disappeared, or simply evolved in to a new, but just as valid, set of relationships and customer services?
What’s your view? Is your small business blog the village store for everyone across the world?
Please share your views in the comments below.