Huseyin abi’s Shop

Huseyin abi, yes, the person I shared the lotto prize with, has been a bit down recently. The income from his small ‘bakkal’ (corner shop – named “Can Can Tekel ve Bufesi”) is not covering his expenses. After the shop and house rents, tax, electricity, water and living expenses are taken out, there is not enough money left. The fact that both Huseyin abi and his wife both smoke about 1 packet of cigarettes each per day does not help. 150,000,000 TL per month goes up in smoke, literally. His share of the lotto prize went straight to the bank to cover part of his credit card debt.

Several times over the past year he has spoken about wanting to go to Australia like just about all Turkish people want to do. After winning the 2nd division lottery prize he wanted to spend more on the lotto each week. I didn’t want to and suggested it was not a good idea as it is a waste of money. The chance to have all 6 correct numbers chosen out of 49 in the Saturday lotto draw is 1/13,942,000 or so. The odds are not on the contestant’s side.

Last night after the lotto did not go our way he was not very happy and asked me what he could do. I thought of a few things and then the most obvious idea popped into my head: improve the shop and make it more customer friendly and attractive to increase sales.

Can Can Tekel ve Bufesi sells alcohol, cigarettes, basic food supplies, lollies, chips, snack nuts and seeds, soft drinks, yoghurt, bread, freshly-ground coffee (ground in the shop), headache tablets, bandaids, razors and other everyday needs and wants. There are many thousands of similar shops all over Turkey. I guess there are 4 or 5 within 100 metres of my apartment! I could write a whole blog article on the ‘bakkal’ and may do so in the future.

Huseyin abi used to work in a factory and does not come from a customer service, retailing or marketing background. This showed in his shop. The shop and its products didn’t look nice, there was little to differentiate his private area with the shop area and the products for sale were placed in random areas with goods they didn’t fit with.

After both working for 6(!) years at the Foodland Fulham Gardens Supermarket and studying several marketing subjects (sorry, ‘courses’) at the University of South Australia I had a few suggestions for Huseyin abi and his shop.

That evening I came out with the ideas:

*Place similar products (cooking ingredients, for example) together

*Remove as much cardboard as possible from the displays

*Bring the products from the back to the front of the shelves

*Turn around the products so the labels show properly

*Add extra lighting

Remove all the products on display in the private back area and bring them to the shop proper

*Disguise the back area so as to differentiate it properly from the actual public shop

*Dust the products!

*Remove the crap from the top of the freezers

*Add reasonable-size price tickets

*Remove all out of date or damaged stock from the shelves

*Make the outside view of the shop more attractive

In summary: make the shop as inviting as possible and for Huseyin abi to ‘think as a customer’ and ‘be a friendly salesman not a shopkeeper’.

Several (most) of the ideas were difficult to communicate in Turkish but Huseyin abi got the point and by the end of the night I am sure he was sick of me and my ideas.

Earlier today, after completing a load of washing at home, I returned to Can Can Tekel ve Bufesi. Huseyin abi had already made several changes and the shop was looking better. We installed shelving between the private and public spaces, moved goods around, dusted and implemented most of the ideas I suggested last night. After a few hours of work, the shop is far more appealing now.

I sincerely hope this work is worth it and the sales turnover increases. I’m sure it will, particularly with more shop improvements in the future and a continued customer and sales-focus. Huseyin abi and his shop are on the way up!

By the way, in this Internet cafe a few doors down from Can Can Tekel ve Bufesi, Huseyin abi’s son, Yigit, has been bugging me to write his name on my blog. There you go Yigit!