In recognition of International Women’s Day, we interviewed Amanda who is a business owner with years of experience in the retail and convenience sector.
Amanda is the proud business owner of D & B Whites Newsagents, a family run business that she inherited from her father. Based in Havant, just a stone’s throw away from the train station, Amanda and her family have been welcoming customers from all walks of life, for three generations.
We spoke to Amanda about what it is like to be a shop owner, the challenges of running a business and how she juggles work and family.
“My husband starts work at 5am, as he sorts the papers. It’s a very early start for him, so when I arrive at 9am, he goes home for a snooze.
I usually leave the store and go home around 1pm, leaving the store in the capable hands of one of my daughters until I return again at 5pm. However, since the outbreak of Covid, I have been using that time to drop-off essential food and drink items to local people who aren’t able to visit the store in person.
On average, I probably work around 50 hours a week but I always make sure I have Wednesdays off.
“For me, being a business owner means I have the freedom to do what I want. I can sell what I want and I can make my own decisions. If it goes wrong it’s fine. I learn from it and do it better next time.”
“I run my business alongside my family, so we see plenty of each other. Being my own boss means that I am in charge of when I take my holidays and time off. My daughter has been the Manager of the store for the last 5 years, so that has meant that I and my husband can take more holiday - just so long as we take the grandchildren!”
“I’d have to say that my greatest professional accomplishment is the fact that we’re still open. There have been some difficult times over the years, we’ve had to make cuts before and we’ve been close to bankruptcy at times. D & B Whites Newsagents is now a 3rd generation business and I’m proud to say after all these years, we’re still going strong.”
“My favourite aspect is the people. The customers we serve on a regular basis become part of your store. I know everything about my regulars and I live my life vicariously through theirs! Even if I’ve had a bad day, I enjoy going into the store because customers help you to forget about it all. You go in and put a smile on your face and theirs.”
“The best piece of advice I ever got was from my Dad. He told me: ‘the only difference between us and the big stores is the personalisation. A nice chat and a smile can go a long way.’ Even decades later, that bit of advice still rings true for small, independent businesses like ours.”
“You need to invest and keep moving forward. It’s important to keep reading the retailer newspapers and magazines, so you can see what other store owners are doing and remain competitive. Keep expanding your products and don’t be afraid to try new things. When my Grandad first opened the store all those years ago, the only things he sold were jarred sweets and tobacco. Times have certainly changed since then, and quite rightly, so has the store.”
“My Dad, without a doubt. He ran the store for many years and he always had a smile on his face. He even continued to work when he was ill. He would talk about anything and everything with our customers, from sport to gardening. He always made everyone feel welcome. I continue to follow his example and always do the best that I can do.”
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