The owner of a Manchester bar-cum-photography studio has hailed community spirit as the driving force behind many small businesses across the region and beyond.
In the UK, 99.9 per cent of businesses are as classed small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) with the city’s RedBank Co one such business.
A bar, café and photography studio, run by business partners Dave Barber and Tom Sneesby, Red Bank Co takes an active role in the community and helps support other small businesses from its premises in Manchester’s Green Quarter.
The kitchen at RedBank is rented out to local business such as afro-Caribbean food vendor Eat n’ Sweet in the mornings, and even the bar’s pizza oven was a trial run for a local entrepreneur.
Dave told MM: “You can see that we’re not just a bar, café, or studio, we’re supporting three other traders.”
He added that the benefits were mutual, saying: “He’s helping us because he sells pizzas to our customers, and stops us from having the expense of hiring a chef.”
Dave explained that he tries to make the bar part of the community, such as when they held Q&A sessions with local candidates in the run up to the election.
“That’s us not just being a bar any more, that’s us becoming part of the community and a hub for it,” he declared proudly.
RedBank Co became the first bar in the Green Quarter when it opened in the arches of a dis-used railway, an area with a bright future.
The council is currently looking to convert the disused railway line above RedBank into a park a la New York’s Skyline District.
“That’s kind of our vision for this area,” explained Dave. “We’re the first, we’re getting the community involved, because we’re a community where the residents have a say in what happens to the local area.
“So if we get them involved, they plug for that park to open, which will help them, which will in turn help us, because we’ll have a park above our heads.
“So, we’ll suddenly become a much more attractive area to be. That could be really exciting”
At the moment the bar sells pizzas for £1 between five and seven on Thursday, with the owner of the pizza oven business helping out at the bar.
The pizzas for a pound idea came about when the bar had launched its quiz night, and found that they were suddenly flocked by patrons rushing to get a beer and sit down five minutes beforehand.
“We said right, we need something to entice people here early so that we can start the quiz on time, so that everything runs like clockwork and that it’s a more smooth operation.
“So a food offering, £1 pizza, all of sudden everyone comes down early and gets a pizza.”
The deal was a success, but Dave explained that people were quizzical over how they managed the deal even though the material needed cost a minimal amount.
He said: “People often wonder how we do pizzas for a pound, the only thing I can ever say to that is I wonder why restaurants sell pizzas for anything more than eight pounds.”
Running a small business is not without its challenges, and with two big functions booked in at the weekend the drink’s order for the bar has tripled in size.
Dave said that: “A larger company would have a bigger cash flow and be able to buy that stock in knowing that money was coming back four fold.
“I can’t do that because I haven’t got the cash up front to pay for it.”
Usually the bar would have to build up their stock throughout the week by using profit from each night, but Dave has found that local businesses are happy to help each other where they can.
Family run drinks suppliers Hammonds of Knutsford lets Dave work with a bit of lee-way, something which is vital in this line of work.
“Without that we’d really struggle, it’s all about personal relationships essentially,” Dave said.
“You can’t just be on the phone to any old receptionist or call centre worker ordering six barrels of beer because it doesn’t work that way.”
Nationally, SMEs have a combined annual turnover of more than £3,000billion.
This week, small businesses across the country have been celebrating Local Business Week, an annual campaign encouraging the public to buy more from their local firms as well as giving owners access to advice and resources they can use to compete with the big guys.