This is one of my favourite local galleries, particularly the glass and the tiny silver insects, in Margate Old Town, photos in this post and some more if you click on this link http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/218l/id6.htm
As blog followers will know I am in the process of changing cameras for this year’s blog posting, I am very much on the learning curve at the moment.
At the moment the impending closure of the Belgian Café in Ramsgate is producing some news articles, so what’s going on? I think in the most basic terms it’s tough on the high streets at the moment. If you can’t compete on price and quality product with the competition then the windmill blows into the sewage farm.
As a shopkeeper I think one of the most important things I do is to use my competition regularly. As I run a bookshop what I do is to visit all of the places in east Kent that sell books and buy books from them. I also buy books from the major online booksellers and databases like Ebay.
My customers obviously do this too, to a greater or lesser extent and frankly if you are in any sort of business selling something to the public unless you use the other places selling what you sell then you don't even know what to compete with.
My main competition is is the other places selling secondhand books, Amazon, Abe and Ebay online, secondhand bookshops and charity shops on the street.
Rent and rates are another issue, rents for shops went up and never down, but recently as shops sell less something has to give. Rates are based on a thing called rateable value, this is a bit complicated but can usually be thought of as about half of what a reasonable rent would be.
I the government think your Rateable Value (calculation of what the Inland Revenue thinks is a fair rent) is less than £15,000 per year then instead of paying about half of the amount they calculate you don't pay anything in rates, for your first business premises.
Rents and most of the property on the high street is rented, used to be around 10% of the freehold value with the tenant paying for repairs to the building. For obvious reasons this is now falling apart as in may cases the business can't afford that sort of amount.
For me the main problem is the number of other businesses surrounding the bookshop that have closed down since we opened in 1987. The compensation over the years is that there really is very little in the way of competition in southeast England.
This is the link to the books that went out in the bookshop today and is very much illustrative of what I mean, I don't think there are any other bookshops that do this.