‘I would love to earn minimum wage’: Independent high street store reveals struggles and future plans
- Credit: Archant
An independent high street trader has revealed he is earning less than half the minimum wage as he battles against national chains and crippling taxes.
Last month, Dunx Cycles - in High Street, Lowestoft - renewed the five year lease at its town centre location.
While the news should be cause for celebration amid the seemingly weekly closures of businesses in the town - this is not the reality.
'For me it's no big accomplishment because I haven't made any money', admitted owner Duncan Adams, 'I'm just hanging in there; common sense would say just to leave.'
In recent weeks RopeWorks bar, along with Claire's and The Body Shop have closed, while Beales department store will close at the end of the month.
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Mr Adams said he completely sympathises with their situations; and internet shopping, VAT rates and the struggling high street were instrumental factors to his struggles.
He said: 'The big problem for small independent business is 40pc goes to VAT – all my profit goes to the government in tax.
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'The people who run internet businesses have hardly any overheads in comparison to the high street.'
Mr Adams said he has been forced to pay himself less than half the £7.83 minimum wage to keep the business running.
He added: 'I would love to earn minimum wage but I'm nowhere near – I work for about £3-an-hour.
'The small independent has no buying power. If a major cycle brand opened a big store in Lowestoft I would be out of business in weeks.'
Dunx Cycles began 10 years ago in Mr Adams' home.
It gathered momentum and five years later he moved into the High Street location to keep up with demand.
Bicycles are more than just a business for Mr Adams, they are his passion too.
And, with a decisive year ahead, he is more determined than ever to make the businesses work.
'I have a plan to turn it around', he revealed.
From June onwards, Dunx Cycles will be selling its own branded 'town bikes', specially designed by Mr Adams himself.
He said: 'It eliminates a lot of the issues we feel bicycles have.
'Others always cut a corner somewhere but we are not going to cut any corners – we are going to give the customer the perfect bike.
'And we are going to have our branding on it; our badge on it.
'We are starting with a small order of just 100 bikes, we will see how they go and if they sell as I expect they will online it will be big bank loan time to basically cater to the country instead of a few people in Lowestoft.'
The bicycles will be available both in store and online – a move Mr Adams has been somewhat reluctant to make.
He added: 'I would far sooner make a living just out of this shop but if you can't make a living one way you have got to look at it another way.'
The owner believes the 'service and craftsmanship' offered at his store, and nearby independent shop will give him an edge over national competition.
He said: 'All the independents on this high street as far as I'm aware are all knowledgeable people who have a passion for what they are doing – they have chosen it because they love it.
'People come in here, we have a laugh and a joke with them, we have fun and we give them good professional advice.'
Mr Adams added: 'I have invested a lot of money into this but the money is neither here nor there; it's the time.
'It's five years of my life spent in this building and at the end of it; if I sell up tomorrow, sell everything and pay everything that is owed – I would walk out of it with nothing.'