When we met the owner, Chris Wildman, in his butchery on the farm he told us about his dreams for the future and the importance of keeping up with current trends and moving with the times.
“I was born a butcher’s son, so I was born a butcher. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s born into you, so I don’t see it as being anything out of the norm. We used to have a long running family business until changing shopping attitudes basically crushed that business and it became defunct. We had two butchers, a deli, a frozen food shop. It was fantastic and would have survived, if only it had been in Dulwich in London.”
Chris now is keen to pass this business and the farm down through the generation but knows the business needs to keep evolving and growing.
“The only way to continue is to have it passed down from generation to generation. We don’t want to move, and the kids don’t want to move. And diversification is so important, especially with any farm; you need to be constantly on the look out for new ideas and innovation. My head is buzzing with new ideas and extensions to what we are doing. We’ve built the butchery on the farm and are now running butchery courses. Now I’m thinking about camping pods, glamping, anything new! There are just not enough hours in the day.”
It’s clear that small businesses want to keep diversifying, but they need help from big business to help them do this. Take for example the basics of connectivity:
“We fought for ages to get fibre broadband here and that has changed the business and helped us set up ecommerce stores. But when it comes to phones we don’t have 4G, we don’t even really have 3G. Mobile networks aren’t interested in rural areas. They just don’t seem to want to bother with it.”
The same goes for bigger businesses offering products and support that is simply worlds away from their price range.
“We’re a small business. We can’t afford seven grand. Some of these businesses have to understand small businesses aren’t going to spend ten grand. Bigger businesses have time and money and energy to get the grants, but I just don’t have the time. The whole grants system needs looking at – until then it’s just the money that comes from customers to help us move ahead.”
What can marketers learn from Town End Farm? Marketers need to better understand the small businesses they are talking to – not only their hopes and dreams but also what it really means running a business in difficult conditions. If ever we saw a business that was disadvantaged by the London bubble, it was Town End.
Town End Farm Shop
Town End Farm Shop, Airton, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 4BE.