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.
The world around us has changed since the internet,,but what still the same is the support we have to give the customer..whether it online or offline..
“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”
Totally agree with that…great customer service these days is hard to find.
I do think that some small business blogs are able to build a sense of community around their product or brand, but I don’t think it really replaces or substitutes the experiences we have when we interact at a local shop.
I think the general stores of yesterday may be gone forever, but places like the local bar, the local coffee shop, and the local restaurant are places where people can still catch up and interact in the process of consuming.
Coffee shops – yes! A great example of where people now go to chat and gossip.
I think there are some of us who prefer the face to face chatting and some via the net.
We are all different!
Thing is…I’m not sure which one I prefer!
Focus on community is a trend I’m seeing all over marketing and money making blogs these days. When I wrote a post on relationships being greater than content over at growmap.com I was shocked by the overwhelming response from readers there. This is a hot topic and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!
Nice post, liked it 🙂
I also feel it is much easier to build on-line communities that off-line ones.
The corner shop. Those were the days when the shop keeper knew their customers by name and the service was friendly 🙂
I still prefer shopping in smaller stores to the big supermarkets that are so impersonal
Great analogy for our blogging business. I like to think I’m build a community through encouraging interaction on my blog, getting to know my readers/customers and it seems to be working.
Patricia Perth Australia
It seems to be working for you becasue you are putting in the hard work and making it work.
P.S. I know all my personal clients by their first name!
Not only are you correct that we ARE building online what many have lost offline but I see a future where bloggers will be what resurrect the local community stores as well.
I wrote about that in a post that is too old to put in CommentLuv so I’ll put it in the regular Website field. It explained where I believe blogging is headed and how bloggers can restore physical communities using the skills we currently use to create them online.
I do remember that post.
As I said to Kyle above, some of us will prefer the on-line community compared to the off-line.
Dear Andrew –
Well, I never thought about this before but I think my blog is more like a corner store.
What I especially point to is that the people who comment talk to each other. Give suggestions and advice. Sometimes disagree. But they read each other’s posts.
I love that.
I have often said that the comments are sometimes much better than my post.
I agree…comments can be better than the post. Plus they give me ideas for future blog posts.
It is amazing but sad to think how life used to be before the cell phones and all-in-one shops. Life is becoming more convenient to the normal consumer and that explains why we’ve become more lazy to do things. Everything is at the click of a button, a car ride away, and one place to check everything off your list. If society has evolved over the past 40 years, I wonder what the next 40 years will be like when our children are older. What do you think?
The next 40 years?
If only we could see into the future.
Perhaps it will be like fashion and the corner shops will make a return in a big way.
I don’t know why people would say that the internet is destroying the community when in fact it brought toghether a lot of people from different cultures, nationalities and ethnicity.
I think that internet can actually be seen as a big international community, where everyone can met, talk and hang around with a click of a button or two.
I totally understand what you are saying…it makes the world a lot smaller.
But many of us, miss the face to face contact…albeit with local people!
Oh my I had forgotten, Artie the grocer. He was cool, always “sneaked” me some free fruit snack while Mom was busy with the butcher on the other side.
It was only meat, veggies and fruit, but still one of the only place I didn’t complain about Mom dragging me too. lol
I remember a shop, here in the UK called David Gregg. They had many shops throughout the OK, I believe and it was our local corner shop.
They sold bags of broken biscuits – they were my treat!
great post mate, why I was only talking to a business colleague the other day and I likened the blog to the store front. I really like where you took that analogy though (I have to quote you here because it was awesome)
“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.”
Brilliant – and oh so true.
I think if more bloggers looked at like this, they might place more importance on a call to action, a sales funnel – anything that gave their visitors somewhere to go that was not forcing them to ‘browse’
So many blogs want to make money but they dont provide me with an opportunity to buy, only to browse.
ooooh, I think there’s a post in that LOL
I think there is another blog post in all this.
Perhaps…not the corner shop…but many shoppers do like to browse…do like to window shop. Perhaps that is more like a blog. What do you think?
This sure is an interesting subject you wrote here. I believe that the Internet has done many good things for us in making our lives easier in terms of keeping in touch with others anytime and anywhere, lets us shop online without having to go out, etc.
Such a nice analogy you’ve made about blogging and the local store.
The net has made things much more convenient including shopping, I agree.
However, I do like to get out and meet other people.
It’s neat to live in the era where technology is booming. It’s definitely easier to shop or find answers from a click of a button. I remember having to pull over at times to use a pay phone when I was lost! With stores closing because of the recession and just the simple fact that consumers aren’t going out to shop, I’ve noticed more online shops opening. Do you think competition will be too hard for new owners to start online businesses now?
nowadays, internet is the very best. it makes our works easier than before. I suggest that if you have a business, small or big, you should make your website so that it will be popular and increase in sales.