Why I like doing business in Dartmouth
Last week I had an email from Nick saying “See you Friday; bring cash”. May sound a bit dodgy but now our freezer is full of some of the best lamb we’ll ever have, all in exchange for a bundle of tenners. This may well make the accountants amongst you shudder and our MBA friends raise their eyebrows, but around here it’s a fairly normal and perfectly above board way of doing business, and it’s one of the reasons I love being here in Dartmouth. Not an invoice, contract or order number to be had.
For 10 years, we’ve been building a network of foodie producers and suppliers who not only create the best available local food but also it’s all done on trust –
· A text to Edward and I can go and help myself to eggs, leaving the money on his desk.
· An email to Rebecca and our apple juice will be restocked next time she’s passing.
· Pork comes from Sally in Dittisham, fish come from our fabulous fishmonger Mark and veggies arrive on a Friday morning via Jim or Martin.
· One of our bread customers leaves payment in a polystyrene box held in place by an old mallet head and others will leave envelopes of cash on their doorsteps.
(It’s not just the food side of life which brings interesting exchanges – buying stamps means a trip to the post office where our Philadelphian post mistress Josie, greets us with a hearty “Yo bitches!”)
Others have created their own networks depending on their businesses and Dartmouth and Kingswear are rather like a Venn diagram of overlapping exchanges and deals.
Lately however we’ve been stitched up like the proverbial kipper to the tune of £600 and it’s rather made me pause. Yes we trusted them to pay their bill. No there wasn’t a contract. Now it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the cash despite the work being done.
Will we now require contracts in triplicate before we do any work? Will we lose our belief in the general goodness of the people we work with? Will we waste any more energy on this rather negative incident? The answer my friends is not blowing in the wind but a decisive no. I like the business relationships we’ve built up and the community that is Dartmouth. I’m looking forward to the next email saying “See you Friday. Bring cash!”