How to Start a Coffee Shop or Coffee Business

So you’ve decided to get into the World of Coffee! Coffee can provide a multitude of opportunities and can also apply to anyone wanting to start up a Sandwich Bar, Cafe or Deli. Infact anyone wanting to open any business that features Coffee. Many types of business serve coffee these days, with either a Traditional Espresso Machine or automatic Bean to Cup Machine. Bookshops, Bicycle Shops, Motor Cycle Dealers to name but a few. Any business that attracts like minded people who share common interests is a great place to start a Coffee Shop. It gives people the chance to socialise and talk about their shared interests. This business diversification also provides an additional income for these businesses that are not “out and out” Coffee Shops.

Like any business that people want to start up, it’s usually because they have an interest in some element of their chosen business idea. It’s always a good idea to do something you like doing or have a skill at, otherwise what’s the point? However, just because you have a “passion” and a dream of setting up your own Coffee Shop doesn’t mean that it will be automatically successful. The same rules apply for any business – Doesn’t matter how good your idea is, you need to make sure there is a “need” in your town or geographic area. This research will form part of your “Business Plan”. A business plan is more than just putting a few figures together to get finance. “Your Business Plan” is just that. It’s about getting your thoughts and ideas down on paper and creating a plan of action for business research, marketing research, project managing and forecasts for getting your business open. It should also be business planning for the future to make sure you stay open! There is an old saying in business; “If You Fail to Plan You Plan to Fail”. It’s a known fact that a large proportion of new businesses fail within the first 3 Years.

Get a clear vision of what you would like your business to be. Try and picture it in your mind. Where would you like it to be? What does it look like? What’s the decor and style? Who are your customers? Apart from Coffee what other offering will you have? What is your USP (Unique Selling Point)? Basically, you have to identify how you can be a bit different from any competition that will also appeal to your potential customers. The most important thing to find out from as many people as possible within your “market place” is; Do they agree with your “vision”? and; Are they prepared to become a customer and pay for it? Put a questionnaire together and go and talk to as many people as you can to find out if your coffee business idea is what they would spend their money on. Also ask open questions about what “they” would like to see in their area. They might suggest some things you never thought of. They may also criticise some of your ideas, don’t take it personally. If their criticism is valid learn by it. Remember, it’s not about what you want. Give them what they want and they will spend their money with you rather than someone else. Check out other Coffee Shops to see how they do it. Not only your local “competition” but further a field. Make several visits at different times of the day if possible. Also, try and look at them from a customers point of view. Make notes of not only the things they seem to do right, but what you think they do wrong. Do they have a steady stream of customers all day or just at lunchtimes? Make a note of prices. Once you are aware of the costs of products then you can guess their “mark up”. Do you think they have the customers they need to make a good return from their prices? Of course, this is not the whole profit story. You have to consider overheads and staff wages etc. You will have a better idea once you “cost out” your own business which we will come to shortly. Correlate all of the “plus” points you have found in the competition and combine them with your USP and VISION for your business and see if you think you can do things a bit better.

Once you have a clear picture about your business then apply what is known as the “Four P’s of Marketing”. Product, Price, Place and Promotion. This can expand to the seven P’s for the service industry. There’s lots of information online but basically all the P’s have to match to get the right “Marketing Mix” for the product and/or service. For example: A high cost perfume couldn’t be sold on a market stall. It’s unlikely that the correct pricing could be achieved and there’s a good chance that shoppers wouldn’t believe the perfume to be the “real” thing anyway. The “marketing mix” is all wrong. If you consider the four P’s when seeing how an expensive perfume is sold you will see what I mean. The Product (a top brand), Place (where – high class perfumeries and shops in some of the worlds most exclusive Cities). Promotion (TV, Cinema, Product placement and the Worlds most exclusive media magazines). Therefore the Price is set according to the social and financial level of the customer being promoted to. Basically, it’s that old saying that “If you have to ask the price then you can’t afford it”. The fours P’s match and you have the right marketing mix. Decide what market sector you want your Coffee business to fit in to. If you want your business to be “classy” with a “stylish” decor and serving a range of “top quality” goodies served by immaculate, polite and efficient staff (Product) then to get the “Price” you need or want then you will have to ensure you are in the right upmarket area or Town (Place) that has an upmarket level of customers. The way your business looks on the High Street and your high level of service that would be expected by your upmarket clientele is the correct Promotion in itself. People tend to mix in the same circles as themselves thereby promoting your business by “word of mouth” within an exclusive group of people. These days this process is strengthened with “social media”.

So where do you find all this information if you don’t really know the area where you want to set up? Within the UK, County Councils will have a wealth of information available within the NATIONAL CENSUS reports for the area. For example it can tell you property values and where they are. Socio Economic Groups (A, B, C1 etc). What their Income levels are and where they live in the area. It can tell you the age groups, how many in each group and where they live. All this information and more can be used to find out where to locate your business for the market sector you are looking for.

Time to look at yourself and any partners there might be. You need to determine everybody’s “Strengths and Weaknesses”. Make a list under each heading. A strength doesn’t have to be a fully fledged “Barista” at this stage. You can be trained in that area – more on Barista Training later. However, for now, coffee making skills might be a weakness until you receive training. For example; a strength is any quality or skill you may already have that can be applied to your new coffee shop business. You might naturally be a good organiser and have great “people skills”. These are great for managing your business and staff. People skills are pretty important in a “hospitality” business! The same theory applies to your “Weaknesses” list. If you are a disorganised person then you need to be able to delegate to someone who is a good organiser or learn the skills required to discipline yourself into the everyday management of your business. “People skills” is a skill that can be learnt. There are many courses and books available in this are of personal and business communications, customer service and hospitality industry courses. In general, analyse yourself and partners to determine if there are any qualities, knowledge or skills that are lacking to run your business then get the training you need. Don’t forget Accounting skills. This seems an obvious skill that a business needs but can easily get brushed aside in the midst of excitement about starting a new business. No matter how big your dream is of being part of the “Cafe Culture” you need to know how to look after the “pennies” and control your “Cashflow Forecasts” and “Profit + Loss” Accounts. Continue building your list of Strengths and Weaknesses with anything you can think of that will be required to run your business. If you’re not sure how to think about, and compile your list, then once again guidance is available in many business books etc.

Before discussing Barista Coffee Skills; an area which you need to explore depending upon your location and the nature of products that you may sell is food hygiene. Check out the relevant Food Standard Authority in your geographic location. In the UK it’s the Food Standards Agency. See http://www.food.gov.uk You need to consider Food Hygiene training and learn about the regulations in this area. Back to making coffee; You don’t need to be a fully qualified Barista before you can make excellent Espresso based coffees and have customers flocking back for more. However, if you have no previous experience, you will need some training and time for some practice before you open your door to customers. With my business, you would be taught some basic skills at the time of your Espresso machine installation. This would involve training on the machine and coffee bean grinder; how to operate them and “best practice” use of the equipment. Day to day maintenance and cleaning schedules will be explained to ensure trouble free use of the equipment. The next step is to show how to prepare a range of the most popular speciality coffees I.e. Lattes, Cappuccinos, Espressos, Latte Macchiato, Mochas etc. including Steaming and Stretching the milk to obtain the perfect micro-foam. Once you get some work experience and have an understanding of the processes then you can take advantage of more advanced Barista Training if you feel the need.

I’ve already suggested you visit other Coffee businesses in your area for market research and gathering vital intelligence on the competition. At the same time decide if you need other “Coffee Shop Skills” by being a “customer”. If it’s a good Coffee Shop then observe the general skills that the staff have and how they attend to customers. Now we come to the cost!

So you now have a clear vision of your business. You can now see your “dream” more vividly in your minds eye but can you afford it? Your initial SET UP costs are going to be for “Premises” – Lease costs. Rent will be a “Fixed Cost”. Property renovations and fixtures, fittings and equipment and potentially uniforms with be “Set Up” costs. Make a list of ALL the equipment you are going to need. Not to mention a Coffee Machine and all related coffee equipment. If your business is to be a Coffee Shop, Coffee Lounge or any business dedicated to the excellence of coffee then you will require a Traditional Espresso Machine set up. If it’s going to be Fast Food, Takeaway etc where staff are doing several jobs at once. McDonalds staff for example, then a Bean to Cup machine would be a better choice because of operational needs. See my article on How to Choose Commercial Coffee Machines – Espresso Machines, Bean to Cup, Bulk Brew . If you are starting from absolute scratch you are going to need counters, chilled display cabinets and serve over counters. Food prep equipment (Stainless Steel tables etc.) Grills, Ovens, Refridgerators, Water Boilers, Dishwashers; the list goes on and will be specific for your business. All will have to be “commercial” specification as opposed to domestic equipment. FIXED COSTS, surprise, surprise, are those costs that will hopefully not change too much and are not related to sales. The “cost” of sales is a “variable cost”. Fixed costs are Shop Rent, Business Rates, Insurance, Electric and Gas services if arranged on a fixed monthly plan, Staff Wages, National Insurance (check out all costs relating to employment). Don’t forget your own wages! Telephone Rental, Broadband tariff, WiFi costs – you get the idea. VARIABLE COSTS are related to the cost of producing and providing anything that you sell. For example: Coffee beans, milk, sugar, coffee syrups and sauces, disposable cups. Crockery cups would be a fixed cost but that would depend upon if you and staff have “butter fingers”. All other drinks, food and any other consumables that are used as a result of you making “sales”. Other variables that are not quite as obvious are Advertising and Promotion. It may not be something you do all the time therefore it is “variable”. Please note that any advertising and promotion should be monitored to establish success of campaign and cost per customer. Over time you will have an idea of your customers average spend. Relate that to the average cost of getting a customer and will be able to evaluate if your “campaigns” are worthwhile. All these “variable” costs need to be built in to your Financial Projections which should be for at least 12mths and beyond. Financial Projections should be in the form of a “Profit + Loss” spreadsheet. This is important in assessing the viability of the business. A “Cashflow” Forecast is also very important in the real world, not only for your initial projections but also as a working “day to day” document once you get your business open. There is plenty of information available in business books and online on how to put these projections together. If you have an Accountant, discuss all things financial with them. There is an old business saying that “Turnover is Vanity”. Make sure you are always looking at the “bottom line” of Profit in any financial figures you put together. As mentioned; your Business Plan should extend into the future. A 5 year plan is a good idea. Outline your ideas and vision for future growth. Set business goals and evaluate if you achieved them. Your Business Plan should be a “dynamic document” to respond to the “marketplace” and your ideas. If you you don’t know where your going how will you ever get there!

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Business Loans – Information for Business Owners

A business loan provides financial aid to business of all sizes (i.e. small businesses, medium-sized businesses or start-up businesses). It is ideal for business owners who need funding to enhance or expand their business. When you need a loan for your business, you must adopt a strategic approach. Cautious planning is necessary for ensuring success in obtaining business loans.

Business Plan

When you are considering applying for a business loan, it is important for you to take enough time to create a convincing and detailed business plan. Your business plan should include information, which will assist your finance broker as well as the lender/credit provider in providing you with the right type of finance and advice. Here is a list of information you should include in your business plan:

>> Your business structure

>> The purpose and goals of your business

>> Your past and future plans for your business

>> The profit and loss projections and cash flow forecasts of your business

>> Your marketing strategy (i.e. the products or services your business provides)

It is also important to state in your business plan the specific purpose for which you want to use a business loan.

Decisions to Make

Once you have assessed your needs for a business loan, you should investigate which finance products suit your needs for a business loan as each loan has varying features for you to choose. To help with this process, here is a list of things to consider and which you can discuss with your finance broker:

>> The loan amount required

>> The loan term (i.e. the period in which the loan will need to be repaid)

>> Interest rate type and repayments (i.e. fixed or variable)

>> Loan fees, and

>> Loan security (i.e. the type of security offered by you)

Finance Products

There is a variety of business loans available to choose from. Here is a brief summary of common business loan products specifically designed by lenders/credit providers for business owners, which can assist your individual situation as a business owner:

Commercial Bill Facility

A commercial bill (also called a bank bill or bill of exchange) is a flexible credit facility that can give your business a short-term or long-term injection of cash. The finance provided by the commercial bill can help your business in the event that you may need to solve an unexpected or urgent problem, and you do not have the required cash flow. You agree to pay back the face value of the commercial bill plus interest to the lender/credit provider on a specific maturity date.

Overdraft Facility

The purpose of establishing an overdraft facility is to provide working capital for your business in the short-term, before receiving income. An overdraft facility should not be used for capital purchase or long-term financing needs. The overdraft is a normal trading account facility for your business, whereby the lender/credit provider permits you to use or withdraw more than you have in the trading account. But, only up to an agreed amount and any negative balances typically need to be repaid within a month.

Line of Credit

A line of credit (also called an equity loan) can provide access to funds by allowing you to draw an account balance up to an approved limit. The loans are designed as a long-term debt facility and are usually secured by a registered mortgage over a property.

Fully Drawn Advance

This is a term loan with a scheduled principal and interest repayment program. The loan provides access to funds upfront, which can be used for funding long-term investments that will expand the capacity of your business, such as purchasing a new business or even purchasing equipment. Fully drawn advance loans are usually secured by a registered mortgage over a residential or commercial property or a business asset.

Short-Term Loan

A short-term loan can provide short-term funding needs for your business. You can take out a short-term loan if you want to take advantage of a very quick financial opportunity or to help you get out of a financial cash flow crisis. The loan offers a fixed sum advance and requires a periodical interest charge to be paid by you. Short-term loans typically require a security to be provided.

Business Equipment Finance

If you decide to expand your business operations and take benefits of potential tax advantages, you should consider taking out business equipment finance, as the finance arrangement allows you to buy, lease or hire a new vehicle or specialised equipment (e.g. cars, trucks, forklifts, printing, computing, medical and office equipment as well as plant equipment and machinery). Typical finance arrangements to consider for business equipment finance are asset lease, commercial hire purchase, chattel mortgage or equipment rental.

Truly, there are several finance products available in the market to help business owners. When you seek out finance for your business, don’t be in a hurry. Consider all the alternatives in detail and then choose the one that is right for you and your business.

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How to Setup a Business in Ontario, Canada?

How to setup a business in Ontario?

Setting up a business can be an overwhelming task with a lot to comprehend. It all starts with a dream and a vision, but how do you turn that dream into reality? The dream of becoming your own boss and having the freedom to make your own decisions can be a complicated one at the beginning. Once you have determined on the actual business and its inner workings, you will have to move on to the next step of executing that business. This is where a lot of people get stuck and don’t really know where to go next.

In this article I will explore and shed light on several different business structures available in Ontario. I will also explain how to be in compliance with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tax obligations.

The three most common structures are Sole proprietorship, Partnership, and Incorporation.

1. Sole proprietorship

Sole proprietorship, also known as a proprietorship or a sole business, is a type of business that is owned and operated by a single individual. Other individuals do not participate or own the business. This is the most simplest form of operating a business.

A sole proprietorship is simple to setup, you can operate the business under your personal name. If you desire to use an operating name you are able to register a Master Business License and operate under an operating name. The requirements for setting up a sole proprietorship are outlined in the provincial legislation.

The shortfall with a proprietorship is that the sole proprietor is personally liable for the business. There is no legal separation between the business and its owner. This creates unlimited liability from creditors and other business debts.

What are the setup cost?

The setup costs are relatively low. To Register a Master Business License online the government fee is $60. There are additional fees for name search and enhanced business name search.

How is a sole proprietorship taxed?

A proprietorship is not a separate legal entity and is taxed based on the proprietors personal income. A separate tax return is not required. The income or losses of the proprietorship will be taxed at the applicable marginal rate of the individual. If the business is profitable this may put you in a higher tax bracket.

There is no need to obtain a CRA business number for a sole proprietorship. However, in certain circumstances you will be required to register a HST number. If you have employees you will be required to register a payroll number. All of which can be done over the phone by calling the CRA business line.

The income and expenses from the sole proprietorship can be reported on your T1 Personal Income Tax return on the T2125 Statement of Business Activities form. You will be required to keep all your receipts for income tax purposes.

2. Partnership

Much like a sole proprietorship, a partnership is not a separate legal entity. A partnership arises from the legal relationship between two or more people that join forces to start a business. The partners do not have limited liability from creditors and personal assets could be seized. This has given arise to several different partnership structures, including General Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, and Limited Liability Partnerships; each of which has a different level of personal liability.

What is a General Partnership?

In a general partnership each partner is jointly and separately liable for the liabilities and obligations of the partnership. In this type of partnership, the partners do not have limited liability from creditors and personal assets could be at risk.

What is a Limited Partnership?

A limited partnership consists of a general and a limited partner. The limited partner has limited liability and only the initial investment is at risk to creditors. The general partner has unlimited liability.

What is a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)?

A LLP is created under The Partnerships Act which allows certain professionals to practice under a LLP. The legislation states that the partner is not personally liable for any liabilities of the partnership that arise as a result of negligence by other partners of the LLP. The partners’ investment and the assets of the LLP can be at risk.

Do I need a partnership agreement?

Although a partnership agreement is not required by law, it’s a very good idea to have one in place. The partnership agreement would help avoid disputes among the partners in the future. The partnership agreement should include the following:

General governing rules regarding the partnership

How to add or remove partners

What happens in case of death of a partner

How to divide and distribute profits and losses

How is a partnership taxed?

A partnership is not a separate legal entity and does not file a separate tax return. The profits and losses flow directly to the partners, who report the income/losses on their personal tax return. A partnership could be required to file a T5013 Statement of Partnership Income depending on revenues and other criteria. A partnership calculates income and expenses in accordance with section 96(1) of the Income Tax Act which states that income and expenses have to be calculated at the partnership level.

A CRA business number for a partnership is not required. However, in certain circumstances you will be required to register a HST number. If you have employees you will be required to register a payroll number. All of which can be done over the phone by calling the CRA business line.

3. Corporation

A corporation is a separate legal entity which can be incorporated at the federal or provincial levels. A corporation is separate from its shareholders and must file a tax return annually regardless of the revenues it makes. A shareholder of the corporation is not liable for debts of the corporation. Although a corporation can be named in a lawsuit, the shareholders have limited liability to the capital contributed to the corporation.

What is a Federal (Canadian) incorporation?

Federal incorporation will allow you to operate and open branches all across Canada with the same name. The corporate name is recognized all over Canada. A Federal corporation is required to file a annual return every year as long as the corporation remains active. You will also have to register in the province you decide to operate in.

What is an Ontario (Provincial) incorporation?

Ontario or provincial incorporation will only allow you to have a branch in Ontario. If you decide to open a branch in another provide you will be required to incorporate there as well (the same name might not be available). With an Ontario corporation you are still able to sell your products across Canada.

How is a corporation taxed?

The income earned in the corporation is taxed at the corporate rate. The funds left over after paying taxes are considered retained earnings of the corporation. The retained earnings are distributed to the shareholders through dividends and are then taxed in the shareholders’ hands at their respective marginal tax rate.

The setup costs can range from $500 to $5,000 depending on the tax structure and legal advice needed.

When to file corporate taxes?

All corporations have to file a corporation tax (T2) return every tax year even if there is no tax payable. If you are a CCPC the payment is due 90 days after the corporate year end and filing is due 180 days from the year end.

CRA Business Number

The CRA will open a business number for your corporation. The CRA will request that one of the owners or directors provide a social insurance number and major business activity.

GST/HST Number

You will be required to open a HST number if your revenues are going to be above $30,000 or you plan on collecting HST on the goods or services you provide. You also have the option to voluntary register for a HST number from the beginning. It is critical that you review the CRA’s GST/HST Guide to stay in compliance of the regulations.

This CRA tool can determine if you Should register for a GST/HST account?

Payroll Number

You have to register for a payroll account before the first remittance due date. Your first remittance due date is the 15th day of the month following the month in which you began withholding deductions from your employee’s pay.

Conclusion

The type and size of business will often dictate the structure of the business. A lot of businesses start as a sole proprietorship (for the above reasons) and as they grow they will change into a corporation. There are tax provisions which can be used to roll over the business to a corporation tax free. Once this is done the CRA will have to be notified and everything can be changed over.

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Insuring Your Business Vehicle

There are many issues to consider when insuring a vehicle that is owned and used by your business. The questions that surround these issues, and how you would answer these questions, will determine what insurance you need to properly protect yourself, your employees and your entire business. It is important to remember that for this insurance, you don’t want to just go with the cheapest option. Your business is at risk every time a business vehicle is in motion.

As a business owner, you need many of the same insurance coverages for cars, trucks, vans or other types of vehicles you use for business purposes as you do for vehicles you operate in your personal life. The Business Owner’s Policy you purchased for your business does not usually provide liability or other coverages for vehicles used in your business. That means you will likely need a separate vehicle policy.

Most states require you to purchase liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage that may result from a vehicle accident occurring while you or someone from your organization is driving for business. The Business Auto Coverage Form (BACF) is the most commonly used contract for providing business auto liability insurance. Although the form refers only to “autos,” autos are defined to include cars, trucks, trailers, vans or other vehicles designed for use on public roads.

Many states also require you to have uninsured/underinsured motorist’s coverage and/or medical payments coverage, known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in some states. You can also purchase physical damage coverage for vehicles your business owns, leases or hires.

Each vehicle you use in your business can be separately “scheduled,” or listed on your policy, along with corresponding coverages. In other words, you can choose different coverages for your various vehicles, depending on the vehicles’ characteristics and the coverage you need for each.

Do I Need a Business Auto Policy?

Your insurance agent will ask in detail how you use vehicles in your business: who will be driving them, whether you own, rent or lease, and whether you and your employees are likely to be driving their own cars for your business. The answers to these questions will indicate the types of coverage you need.

In general, only a BACF can provide the level of liability protection-with a recommended minimum of $500,000-that even a small business needs to cover the potential damages in a serious accident.

Will My Personal Auto Policy Cover Business Use?

Your personal auto policy may provide some coverage for business uses of your vehicle. By the same token, your employees’ personal auto policies may cover some business uses if they were using their personal vehicles for business errands.

If the vehicle you are using is used primarily in business, your personal auto policy might not be enough to cover any losses. It will most likely not provide coverage for any vehicle titled and registered to a business. If you, or your employees, are driving personal vehicles for occasional business activities that are covered by your personal auto policies, it is important to have sufficient liability coverage to protect the business in the event of a serious auto accident.

Many business people have a personal umbrella policy, covering claims that may result for damages personally caused to another. It is typical for an umbrella policy to exclude any claims while in the course and scope of doing business.

What Vehicles Are Covered in a Business Auto Policy?

The choice in business auto policies can vary, depending on the coverages offered by your insurance company. The BAP could apply only to one specific car, or could be extended to cover the insured’s use of any automobile. Most states offer three general options for which vehicles could be covered under your policy:

1. All autos owned by your business
2. All autos owned or leased or hired by your business
3. All autos used for the business, including those that are not owned, hired and/or leased.

Most businesses should consider the third option as it will likely be the policy that protects a business when an owner or employee are using a personal vehicle for business.

Details of the Business Auto Coverage Forms

-Be sure the titled owner is listed as the principal insured on the insurance contract.
-Be sure to have “full” coverage on your vehicles, comprehensive and collision.
-It is recommend that a small business have an auto coverage limit of $1,000,000. This amount of coverage does not usually cost significantly more, and it could save your business in the event of a serious car accident involving a business automobile.
-The combined single limit (CSL) on your business policy should likewise be $1,000,000 at a minimum.
-A business umbrella policy is always a good idea. Ask your insurance agent about what options might be available to you on your policy. This gives added protection as long as the underlying policies are in force at certain minimums.

When Your Business Vehicle Is Also Your Personal Vehicle

When an owner of a business, or an employee, drives a business vehicle for personal use and that person does not own their own personal vehicle, there is a gap in liability coverage. The BACF does not cover personal use of the business vehicle in these situations. An owner would need to add a “Drive Other Car Coverage Endorsement” to a BACF policy. This will allow for coverage to other vehicles driven by the business owner, making the policy now act more like a personal policy and covering the driver and vehicles under the business policy.

Your Business May Be Liable if You Allow a Bad Driver on the Road

You and your business can be legally liable for allowing someone to drive one of your business vehicles. If you fail to determine whether or not the person is qualified to drive or has a bad record, you might be liable for negligent entrustment. A case of negligent entrustment arises when you allow another person to drive your vehicle, knowing or having reason to know that the use of the vehicle by that person creates a risk of harm to others. Your business is responsible for verifying any driver’s qualifications before entrusting them with a vehicle.

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Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7

Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7
My Dad repaired most of our shoes believe it or not, I can hardly believe it myself now. With 7 pairs of shoes always needing repairs I think he was quite clever to learn how to “Keep us in shoe Leather” to coin a phrase!

He bought several different sizes of cast iron cobbler’s “lasts”. Last, the old English “Laest” meaning footprint. Lasts were holding devices shaped like a human foot. I have no idea where he would have bought the shoe leather. Only that it was a beautiful creamy, shiny colour and the smell was lovely.

But I do remember our shoes turned upside down on and fitted into these lasts, my Dad cutting the leather around the shape of the shoe, and then hammering nails, into the leather shape. Sometimes we’d feel one or 2 of those nails poking through the insides of our shoes, but our dad always fixed it.

Hiking and Swimming Galas
Dad was a very outdoorsy type, unlike my mother, who was probably too busy indoors. She also enjoyed the peace and quiet when he took us off for the day!

Anyway, he often took us hiking in the mountains where we’d have a picnic of sandwiches and flasks of tea. And more often than not we went by steam train.

We loved poking our heads out of the window until our eyes hurt like mad from a blast of soot blowing back from the engine. But sore, bloodshot eyes never dampened our enthusiasm.

Dad was an avid swimmer and water polo player, and he used to take us to swimming galas, as they were called back then. He often took part in these galas. And again we always travelled by steam train.

Rowing Over To Ireland’s Eye
That’s what we did back then, we had to go by rowboat, the only way to get to Ireland’s eye, which is 15 minutes from mainland Howth. From there we could see Malahide, Lambay Island and Howth Head of course. These days you can take a Round Trip Cruise on a small cruise ship!

But we thoroughly enjoyed rowing and once there we couldn’t wait to climb the rocks, and have a swim. We picnicked and watched the friendly seals doing their thing and showing off.

Not to mention all kinds of birdlife including the Puffin.The Martello Tower was also interesting but a bit dangerous to attempt entering. I’m getting lost in the past as I write, and have to drag myself back to the present.

Fun Outings with The camera Club
Dad was also a very keen amateur photographer, and was a member of a camera Club. There were many Sunday photography outings and along with us came other kids of the members of the club.

And we always had great fun while the adults busied themselves taking photos of everything and anything, it seemed to us. Dad was so serious about his photography that he set up a dark room where he developed and printed his photographs.

All black and white at the time. He and his camera club entered many of their favourites in exhibitions throughout Europe. I’m quite proud to say that many cups and medals were won by Dad. They have been shared amongst all his grandchildren which I find quite special.

He liked taking portraits of us kids too, mostly when we were in a state of untidiness, usually during play. Dad always preferred the natural look of messy hair and clothes in the photos of his children.

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What Are The Greatest Changes In Shopping In Your Lifetime

What are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime? So asked my 9 year old grandson.

As I thought of the question the local Green Grocer came to mind. Because that is what the greatest change in shopping in my lifetime is.

That was the first place to start with the question of what are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime.

Our local green grocer was the most important change in shopping in my lifetime. Beside him was our butcher, a hairdresser and a chemist.

Looking back, we were well catered for as we had quite a few in our suburb. And yes, the greatest changes in shopping in my lifetime were with the small family owned businesses.

Entertainment While Shopping Has Changed
Buying butter was an entertainment in itself.
My sister and I often had to go to a favourite family grocer close by. We were always polite as we asked for a pound or two of butter and other small items.

Out came a big block of wet butter wrapped in grease-proof paper. Brought from the back of the shop, placed on a huge counter top and included two grooved pates.

That was a big change in our shopping in my lifetime… you don’t come across butter bashing nowadays.

Our old friendly Mr. Mahon with the moustache, would cut a square of butter. Lift it to another piece of greaseproof paper with his pates. On it went to the weighing scales, a bit sliced off or added here and there.

Our old grocer would then bash it with gusto, turning it over and over. Upside down and sideways it went, so that it had grooves from the pates, splashes going everywhere, including our faces.

My sister and I thought this was great fun and it always cracked us up. We loved it, as we loved Mahon’s, on the corner, our very favourite grocery shop.

Grocery Shopping
Further afield, we often had to go to another of my mother’s favourite, not so local, green grocer’s. Mr. McKessie, ( spelt phonetically) would take our list, gather the groceries and put them all in a big cardboard box.

And because we were good customers he always delivered them to our house free of charge. But he wasn’t nearly as much fun as old Mr. Mahon. Even so, he was a nice man.

All Things Fresh
So there were very many common services such as home deliveries like:

• Farm eggs

• Fresh vegetables

• Cow’s milk

• Freshly baked bread

• Coal for our open fires

Delivery Services
A man used to come to our house a couple of times a week with farm fresh eggs.

Another used to come every day with fresh vegetables, although my father loved growing his own.

Our milk, topped with beautiful cream, was delivered to our doorstep every single morning.

Unbelievably, come think of it now, our bread came to us in a huge van driven by our “bread-man” named Jerry who became a family friend.

My parents always invited Jerry and his wife to their parties, and there were many during the summer months. Kids and adults all thoroughly enjoyed these times. Alcohol was never included, my parents were teetotallers. Lemonade was a treat, with home made sandwiches and cakes.

The coal-man was another who delivered bags of coal for our open fires. I can still see his sooty face under his tweed cap but I can’t remember his name. We knew them all by name but most of them escape me now.

Mr. Higgins, a service man from the Hoover Company always came to our house to replace our old vacuum cleaner with an updated model.

Our insurance company even sent a man to collect the weekly premium.

People then only paid for their shopping with cash. This in itself has been a huge change in shopping in my lifetime.

In some department stores there was a system whereby the money from the cash registers was transported in a small cylinder on a moving wire track to the central office.

Some Of The Bigger Changes
Some of the bigger changes in shopping were the opening of supermarkets.

• Supermarkets replaced many individual smaller grocery shops. Cash and bank cheques have given way to credit and key cards.

• Internet shopping… the latest trend, but in many minds, doing more harm, to book shops.

• Not many written shopping lists, because mobile phones have taken over.

On a more optimistic note, I hear that book shops are popular again after a decline.

Personal Service Has Most Definitely Changed
So, no one really has to leave home, to purchase almost anything, technology makes it so easy to do online.
And we have a much bigger range of products now, to choose from, and credit cards have given us the greatest ease of payment.

We have longer shopping hours, and weekend shopping. But we have lost the personal service that we oldies had taken for granted and also appreciated.

Because of their frenetic lifestyles, I have heard people say they find shopping very stressful, that is grocery shopping. I’m sure it is when you have to dash home and cook dinner after a days work. I often think there has to be a better, less stressful way.

My mother had the best of both worlds, in the services she had at her disposal. With a full time job looking after 9 people, 7 children plus her and my dad, she was very lucky. Lucky too that she did not have 2 jobs.

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What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

The results of this past election proved once again that the Democrats had a golden opportunity to capitalize on the failings of the Trump Presidency but, fell short of a nation wide mandate. A mandate to seize the gauntlet of the progressive movement that Senator Sanders through down a little over four years ago. The opportunities were there from the very beginning even before this pandemic struck. In their failing to educate the public of the consequences of continued Congressional gridlock, conservatism, and what National Economic Reform’s Ten Articles of Confederation would do led to the results that are playing out today.. More Congressional gridlock, more conservatism and more suffering of millions of Americans are the direct consequences of the Democrats failure to communicate and educate the public. Educate the public that a progressive agenda is necessary to pull the United States out of this Pandemic, and restore this nations health and vitality.

It was the DNC’s intent in this election to only focus on the Trump Administration. They failed to grasp the urgency of the times. They also failed to communicate with the public about the dire conditions millions have been and still are facing even before the Pandemic. The billions of dollars funneled into campaign coffers should have been used to educate the voting public that creating a unified coalition would bring sweeping reforms that are so desperately needed. The reality of what transpired in a year and a half of political campaigning those billions of dollars only created more animosity and division polarizing one extreme over another.

One can remember back in 1992 Ross Perot used his own funds to go on national TV to educate the public on the dire ramifications of not addressing our national debt. That same approach should have been used during this election cycle. By using the medium of television to communicate and educate the public is the most effective way in communicating and educating the public. Had the Biden campaign and the DNC used their resources in this way the results we ae seeing today would have not created the potential for more gridlock in our government. The opportunity was there to educate the public of safety protocols during the siege of this pandemic and how National Economic Reform’s Ten Articles of Confederation provides the necessary progressive reforms that will propel the United States out of the abyss of debt and restore our economy. Restoring our economy so that every American will have the means and the availability of financial and economic security.

The failure of the Democratic party since 2016 has been recruiting a Presidential Candidate who many felt was questionable and more conservative signals that the results of today has not met with the desired results the Democratic party wanted. Then again? By not fully communicating and not educating the public on the merits of a unified progressive platform has left the United States transfixed in our greatest divides since the Civil War. This writers support of Senator Bernie Sanders is well documented. Since 2015 he has laid the groundwork for progressive reforms. He also has the foundations on which these reforms can deliver the goods as they say. But, what did the DNC do, they purposely went out of their way to engineer a candidate who was more in tune with the status-quo of the DNC. They failed to communicate to the public in educating all of us on the ways our lives would be better served with a progressive agenda that was the benchmark of Senators Sanders Presidential campaign and his Our Revolution movement. And this is way there is still really no progress in creating a less toxic environment in Washington and around the country.

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