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LOCAL SHOPS NEED TO LEARN TO HELP THEMSELVES

PUBLISHED: 10:55 06 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:35 07 September 2010

For some time I have been intending to comment on the continued campaigns for keeping local business alive in Hampstead. I would like to say here first and foremost, I am all for keeping and using local business wherever possible - a big factor in moving

For some time I have been intending to comment on the continued campaigns for keeping local business alive in Hampstead. I would like to say here first and foremost, I am all for keeping and using local business wherever possible - a big factor in moving here four years ago. There is a 'but' however.

This is a two way street and the local businesses have to do something to help themselves as unfortunately, most have an attitude that stinks and an air about them that they are 'owed' a living.

In any sales environment you cannot ever assume or expect sales to come - you have to work at it and adapt. If what you are selling is not attractive and is not relevant, it won't sell.

A good example is the King William 1V public house. Two years ago this was a flea pit, for want of a better description, which was very popular nontheless but now, it is still a key part of Hampstead life offering diverse people a whole range of services in pleasant surroundings after good investment and attention to what today's customers want.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Hampstead businesses do not think like this. There are places where staff look down their nose at you - you almost feel like you are intruding. Some are as miserable as sin and are open at inconvenient hours (we are not a village of housewives who shop by day!).

People do not go to Tesco because they want to - they go because it is the only place open at 7pm when a good number of people come home from work.

The delicatessen on the Heath which blamed M&S for its demise did that all by themselves selling over-priced produce in a grotty little shop. I could go on. Rags such as the Hampstead Voice do not help (they hate people like me who do not have the 'birthright' to live here. I am afraid local business has got so far up itself that it is making itself disappear.

The solution sits firmly with the local business people. If they were relevant for today's local population they wouldn't have a problem. They need to get a grip and make people want to use their services - they would all see a huge difference!

Andrew Birnie

Gayton Crescent, NW3

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