We were travelling through the Karoo in 34° heat. It was lunch time and during the festive season we didn’t want to stop at one of those service stations owned by the giant conglomerates that want their customers to bring two rand coins to use their toilets.
So we went down the back road and found a supermarket where we could order burgers at a third of the price of the giant service stations, get cold drinks at half the price, coffee at two thirds of the price and warm, friendly service. While we were waiting for the burgers to be prepared we wondered around the supermarket and came across an amazing display – that you won’t find in many supermarkets.
On tables and shelves local, hand-crafted and lovingly manufactured goods were on sale on a large trestle table and shelves. You could buy all sorts of things such as body lotions, candles, serviette holders made in the shape of the typical Karoo wind mills, preserves, linen, tablecloths, notebooks heel scrapers, soaps and specials small luggage cases that would be ideal for any bedroom as an ornament.
Here were goods made by local entrepreneurs and start-ups that were being given valuable shelf space in a national brand supermarket. I don’t want to mention the supermarket name because it might not be their “national policy” to allow this sort of thing.
But the managers and supervisors that we spoke to felt proud that they were helping the local community of entrepreneurs and people trying to get their foot in the door.
Although you might find some general merchandise, and craft items such as handbags and dresses outside of the the giant service stations, for the most part they don’t support local businesses.
In fact, as I mentioned, these are the same service stations that charge you two rand coins to go in and use their toilets.
Unfortunately they give the impression that they are so tight that if you were to ask for your local hand-crafted or actors artisanally made product to be displayed in their grocery stores they would laugh in your face.
I have seen one or two items in these service stations in outlying areas but not much more than that.
The thing is that supermarket in a Karoo town is providing a great service for local entrepreneurs and start-ups.
By allowing them to display their products in the supermarket, they are able to test demand for the products. This is an extremely valuable service because start-ups don’t want to hire out hi-cost retail space to test demand for the products.
Being able to run a test or pilot or trial in a regular supermarket, the start-ups are able to assess how strong the demand for their products really is before over capitalising.
If you want to find out more now-cost and low-cost ways to test your new business idea to turn it into a viable proposition, you may be interested in “Breakthrough Ideas”.
It’s a resource that is hands-on, practical and guides you from coming up with a new business idea through product development and test marketing to implementation.