I can’t decide if I’m angry, sad or concerned - I think angry is probably the best description. You see I arrived at the shop this morning to find a rather large stone (bigger than my hand if I roll it into a fist) laying on our forecourt area with a piece of our sign next to it - someone had obviously been throwing the stone more than once to have actually broken it - and when I entered the shop another piece which had been broken off had been pushed through the letterbox. I’ve checked the 3 other businesses next door to me and there doesn’t appear to be any marks on any of their signs or windows so I’m assuming that my shop was their specific target (I may be wrong in my assumption but right now it is feeling very personal to me). What pissed me off more is that the security camera I have covering the front had to be switched off last night because we are over on our internet (I had a moan about that yesterday so won’t bore you with it again) and while the ones inside which don’t run via the wifi directly show the window they’re not of a good enough quality to show who it was throwing the stones - I could tell it wasn’t kids though. When they walked to the door to push the piece through the camera picked them up beautifully but they’d obviously thought about such a thing for they turned their head so all I have is their side profile which in itself would be good enough had they not been wearing a hat.

Now, it could well have been a couple of drunks messing about but just last week while talking to someone else about the people who have just bought the 1st shop in our little block of four I was told to watch my back with them for they like to buy up whole parades of shops and have been known to use intimidation to get people to sell. They’re barking up the wrong tree with me for I don’t own the shop; we lease but it did get me wondering if they could have something to do with it. I am currently the only person in our block who they’ve not been in to speak to yet but I did say to my neighbour when she told me what they were planning to turn their unit into that I might put in an objection. They want to turn it from a hairdressers into a cafe. Our block of shops is only 4 but over the road there are 20 others 3 of which are already cafes, 2 which are indian takeaways, 1 chinese takeaway and a chip shop - I also have a chip shop next door to me (I can’t even tell you how much rubbish I have to clear when I arrive every morning because of them) so the last thing we need is another food outlet. Whether this has got back to them or not I don’t know - I’d tell them personally why I don’t want them to make it a food outlet if they came to see me and gave me the chance. It may have nothing to do with them at all and I may be an awful person for thinking so badly of them but it does seem very odd after being told to watch my back the other week.

I’m angry also because of not having unlimited internet to use; had I had that then the camera would have picked up the faces of the men who did it perfectly (thankfully the internet will be back on later today so tonight we’ll be covered). It is very odd how it happened on the one night I didn’t have any though.

I think what pisses me off more than anything though is that I will now have to pay out for a new sign. As a small business I cannot afford to spend money on things that are not a necessity although a shop sign kind of is but it’s not something I should have to include in my monthly outgoings. I now have to forego wages this month to cover the cost of a new sign. Yes, I could leave the broken one up there - what kind of advert would that be about the business though? - or I could not bother to have one at all (at which point I have nothing to advertise the fact my shop is here (people tend not to look at the window display going for the sign above as their first port of call)) so if I want my shop to be noticed and to get people through the doors I have to have a decent sign, and they cost money my little business doesn’t have going spare right now. If it was just a mindless act of people with nothing better to do that makes it even worse in a way. To think someone could be that insensitive to someone running a small business is extremely hurtful. I know people see us in our shops, see customers coming in and out and automatically assume that means we’re raking it in but that could not be further from the truth. I work damn long hours for less than minimum wage and worry each and every week about whether I have enough to pay the bills. We have to pay out for so many different things that people never see, they just see money going in the till and think that goes straight into our pockets. This could not be more wrong if you tried to imagine it. I should think 98% of all small businesses in this country are struggling and wondering where they are going to find the money to pay their next bill. Why do we do it then? Because if I didn’t do it someone else would and if we all gave up then there would only be the big 4 supermarkets left and can you imagine what would happen to the prices of goods then? While on our own we can’t compete and take them on, as a whole across the country we can have some influence on how they treat customers. Besides if small business finally yielded to the supermarkets (which is what they want - in all honesty they are nothing more than bullies really) then that would mean the small business owner would be forced to buy their goods in these places and I know a lot of us don't shop in them on principle, choosing to buy from other local businesses. I read somewhere once in a financial thing (which didn’t make a lot of sense to me) that it’s the small businesses which help to keep our economy afloat so for someone to do what they have done to me overnight feels very personal - even if it’s not meant to be.

Damn right I’m angry.