Life for a Small Retailer

Devangshu Dutta

January 22, 2008

Management consultants, the media, financial analysts have had one phrase tripping off their tongues the last few years … “organized retail”. … The growth of “…”, the inevitability of “…”, the power of “…”

Some highly visible people have even made statements that essentially mean – “if you want to play at the table of retailing, bring big money with you, because stakes have now risen, entry barriers have now gone up”.

In our opinion, nothing could be further from the truth – retail is fundamentally an entrepreneurial business, and even today, you can start with one shop, or even a corner in a shop.

We did write about it in May 2005 (read here : “Playing with the Big Boys“), prompted by some of the profound observations people were making on the inevitable demise of the small retailer.

Typically the only people who seem to talk about small retailers amongst these loud voices are the market associations when an ‘organized’ retailer opens a store in or near their market, and those activists who despise anything that has a whiff of corporate.

In that context, it is interesting to read the BusinessWorld article by Vishal Krishna, M. Allirajan and Manashwi Banarjee titled “Squaring Up To Survive”. It mentions companies that are enabling smaller retailers to streamline their operations, and describes what individual store owners are doing to compete with Big Business.

Yes, things are tough for small business people, but don’t write them off just yet. Almost every business that is big today was once very small.