Here is the Second chapter of the CPU Enterprises Story which was originally sent in the CPU Summer 2008 Newsletter - emailed out to customers on 23.08.08. Written by Peter
In the last episode we had just brought a General Store and I guess you would describe our shop as an "Open All Hours" type of business, even down to the goods outside under the window. We sold all manner of goods from food to fancy & household goods, and we were certainly open all hours. Usually from 7.30 in the morning until 7.30 in the evening, and almost all hours in between from the back door. Luckily we lived behind and above the shop so didn't have far to crawl into bed. Dianne and her Mother were still selling the Vogue Knitting Machines on some evenings so I was often left running between the back door and the children. We had never had a shop before so we did not like letting our customers down by being closed.
We also didn't really have a clue what to charge for our goods, this was partly solved by frequent visits to Tesco and several other shops in the area. Armed with a notebook and pencil we jotted down the various retail prices they were charging and then doing our best to undercut them. This worked well until Tesco found out what we were doing and 'turned us out'.
We found it very difficult to undercut some of the larger stores, after all we did need to make a profit. So we decided to look for a way of putting us on the map and this came from a most unlikely source. Just around the corner from our shop was a rather large County School for Girls. The girls from this establishment visited us daily in fairly large numbers to buy their sweets and pop, until disaster struck. We discovered that the head teacher had decreed that all pupils were to give up sweets for Lent, this certainly was not good news as a good proportion of our trade came from these girls.
So yours truly made an appointment to see the headmistress to try to find a solution to our problem. After much discussion we decided that the best solution would be to try to persuade the girls to try a healthy substitute for sweets - CARROTS (washed of course). This became the high point of our trading years so far, it took off like you would not believe - in a few days we were going through sack loads of them. It was an amazing sight to see all these girls walking down the street munching raw carrots and it was not long before the other local schools had joined in the craze.
It became so successful that the media got hold of the story and we appeared on television, then a certain Sunday Newspaper gave me the dubious title of the "Carrot King of Peterborough". We kid you not, this is a true story - it's just a pity Lent only lasts for 40 days.
Although we were not selling wool at the shop, Dianne kept up her skills and could often be found, during quiet times, clicking away behind the counter. School Uniforms were a speciality, especially with money tight and 2 young (growing) girls at 2 different schools needing different colour jumpers etc. [No hand me downs - yippee - Dawn]. Many Xmas presents were also created behind that counter [I remember a pretty pink crochet bikini that sagged when wet - Carole].
During our 7 years at the shop we expanded CPU into light haulage and a mobile shop, but that, as they say, is for another time.
And what about the 'C' of CPU I hear you all cry - well maybe I will leave you all guessing for a bit - I hear the Forum was quite busy on the subject after the last newsletter !!
Chapter Three of the CPU Enterprises Story