As a retired self employed shop keeper, I know a lot about working under pressure. Pressure on several levels, my business partner was my husband, we lived together and worked together. From that experience I can say, we attempted to separate the two, try not to talk ‘home’ stuff at work, or ‘work stuff’ at home. The other point of conflict was, there are always two ways of doing anything, ‘his way’ and ‘my way’! When on buying trips round wholesalers, there could be some heated discussions, as to what was a profitable item to sell. We found that in purchasing stock, if we selected items we did not personally like, they would sell well, anything we wanted to buy because it appealed to us, usually became a non-starter, and ended up as a SALE item.
Customers themselves put pressure on you, some people my husband would see approaching the shop door, he would say ‘got something urgent in the office’ and disappear, leaving me to cope with the ‘strange customer’, who always invaded your personal space, gripping your arm, so that you cannot move away.
Other stress times, was when our shop’s flat roof allowed the collection of rain, to come in, through the roof, flooding our pet food area. The smell of wet dog food would greet us when we opened the shop next morning. We always dreaded heavy rain.
The other thing, some kind person would ring us up to let us know, we had left bags of Compost and Peat outside, when we locked the shop for the night.,,, So we would have to go back again hoping no one had stolen them before we got there.
Strangely, Christmas day was another, pressured time, there’s always the customers who have forgotten to buy batteries for the children’s toys. We used to open the shop, for a couple of hours or rather, my husband did, while I got on in the kitchen cooking our special Dinner
Plus being a hardware shop, we had the ‘glue sniffing’ people, (who lived in what was termed ‘secure acomodation’ that the Fire Brigade insisted must have fire exits unlocked) practising their breaking and entering skills on our flat roof!
Every shop has its cast of regular shop lifters, inadequate people who needed help to fill in Government forms, lonely people who came in after three o’clock in the afternoon to talk to you, I felt I had to talk to them, realising some of them would not talk to anyone else to that day. We had our fair share of Police phoning to ask for a ‘Key Holder’ to meet them at the Shop, following dubious activity.
Strangely enough, being shop keeper was all I ever wanted to do, from being a child. I was fortunate in that, I could never have dreamed what a complex occupation it was.