Johnny Moore: Small business is beautiful

The Little High Eatery on the corner of High and Tuam streets  is home to A Mouse Called Bean, Base, Bacon Brothers, ...
Stacy Squires

The Little High Eatery on the corner of High and Tuam streets is home to A Mouse Called Bean, Base, Bacon Brothers, Caribe, Eightgrains, El Fogon, Noodle Monk, and Sushi Soldiers.

OPINION: I was raised by idealists, not by wolves, which will come as a shock to some of you.

It was the 1980s and a bunch of exciting rhetoric was inspiring young forward-thinking people to care about wacky things that have since become mainstream: the environment, feminism, sustainability, compost.

Somehow, with a rose-tinted upbringing, I grew into a cynic, into a person who struggles to identify politically, into somebody with a bleak view of humanity.

Bits of my upbringing did rub off on me – I still seek to make great compost and I continue to be obsessed with E.F. Schumacher's book Small is Beautiful with its lovely subtitle A Study of Economics as if People Mattered.

Now, as I look at the globalisation experiment I wonder if Schumacher might have been onto something. Maybe seeking value from meaningful work might have merit? Eat your heart out William Morris.

We find ourselves in a period where globalisation has increased the wealth of a handful of individuals and I wonder if we're headed toward a good old-fashioned revolution.

Bacon Brothers is one of the foodie tenants at the Little High Eatery. Local
Stacy Squires

Bacon Brothers is one of the foodie tenants at the Little High Eatery. Local

Come on, the world is going batty. Up is down, black is white, things that were certain are changing and the unexpected is happening against all predictions: Brexit, Trump.

Amongst the chaos, I find myself running a little business in the corner of a small city in a tiny wee country at the bottom of the world.

High Street, where I've been running some-business-or-other for a decade-or-so has traditionally been an incubator for small business.

Now, in a city reinventing itself post earthquakes, clever property developers have seen the benefit and richness of small business and have started once-again populating the street with interesting little operators.

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I'm thinking of the McKenzie and Willis development on the corner of High and Tuam Streets, where the Little High eatery recently opened. What a refreshing place full of individual businesses – all with that great character that comes from the owner/operator – ticking along and using group power to prosper.

Well done to the developers for having the vision to promote small business and for fighting the good fight when the land-barons of Christchurch brought lawyers in to try and stop the development.

The public must have wanted something like Little High if the number of people crammed into the place at lunch and dinner is anything to go by – it's been packed.

Small business has a way of supporting small businesses. I've always thought the Chinese community had the right idea with the way there's a Chinese accountant and a Chinese dentist – the accountant does the dentist's books, the dentist does the accountant's teeth and the money cycles about in the community.

It needn't be the Chinese community in this example; I know Ngai Tahu has a similar approach to spending within the iwi.

I had a wine rep in recently trying to sell me some shiny new wine.

"What do I have to do to get on your wine list?" he asked.

The question got me thinking about this whole idea.

"Well, you've got to frequent my business for a couple of years. You've got to have a local product and in the case of the house wine, you've got to have me, my gypsy family and all the staff camp at your vineyard over summer while we drink beer, do wheelies on motorbikes and shoot rabbits."

He thought I was joking. I wasn't (and thanks for having us again this summer, The Boneline wine crew). Small business at its best is a lifestyle, even better if you can make a few friends in the process.

Forget globalisation, small is indeed beautiful.

 - Stuff

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