Throughout the summer we have had 8 children aged 7-11 join us for a Junior Apprenticeship, and I thought
it's time to share what we've been up to. Over a series of posts I'll discuss why we've done it, what the Apprenticeship has consisted of and then you'll hear from each of the children as they share their favourite product as part of their Marketing session.
Firstly, why have we done this?
As a child I loved going into our local gift shop and I remember saving up my money to be able to buy a wooden sunflower sculpture for my bedroom. When I was eventually old enough for a Saturday job I was thrilled to be able to work at this shop. It was a treasure trove of cards, pictures, toys, baskets and furniture. If it wasn't for these experiences I wouldn't own Papilio today.
Retail has changed significantly in the 25+ years since those shopping trips; the internet and social media has arrived and buying habits have changed, both for the good and bad. However I still firmly believe in the importance of High Street shops and their place in our daily lives for numerous reasons. Of prime importance is the ethos Community; we employ local people, we are often the only source of conversation for many customers on that day, we support local charities, we try to facilitate good experiences for children and their parents and carers and we work hard to ensure all people feel welcome. I often joke that I need to go on a counselling course as it's rare for me to go a few days without just listening to a customer as they need a sympathetic ear.
A vibrant High Street is bigger than just us as one shop and that is why we love working with other shops in Thornbury. If there is a thriving High Street it contributes to good house prices, reduced crime and community cohesion.
High Street retail also gives smaller creative businesses a chance to flourish as we look to stock items that are different and where we know the story. It is independent business that ensures choice for the customer and that everyone doesn't end up just buying the same products from the same few businesses. It allows individuality to actually shine through.
There are many campaigns (which we are proud to support), that encourage buying local and from smaller independent businesses - whether a shop or maker. #justacard is one such campaign encouraging us to look at how we spend money as consumers; recognising that even a small purchase makes a difference as they all add up, you don't need to come and buy a picture or piece of furniture every time!
With my experience however, I realised that it's not just about encouraging adults to come and support the High Street, but also inspiring future generations to want a small business and particularly one on the High Street. I'm welI aware that I could make much more money if I didn't own the shop and would probably sleep better too, but I believe in what we are doing here and want others to be able to experience that too. From this, the Junior Apprenticeship was born. These children are not old enough for jobs. My hope is that if we can inspire them to look at shops in a different way and to start dreaming, then hopefully when they reach Saturday Job age they can take the next step in that journey. They can seek out a job that could continue to future that interest and passion and not just be about earning some money to fund their car!