Small Businesses VS The Internet

I love being a small business owner.  Opening Roselle with Bruce has been one of the best experiences of my life.  It has brought so many wonderful people into our lives: staff and customers alike.  We are so grateful for all of you.  Thank you.

But for every 100, there is always that 1 inconsiderate person. Maybe the anonymity of the internet empowers them to say things that they would never say in person.  It has allowed them to forget that there are real human beings behind a small business and words written online hurt just as much.  Especially to entrepreneurs who care as deeply as Bruce and I do about Roselle.

Maintaining consistent hours can be tough for a small business.  We work very hard and when we depart for a much-needed break (whether for a weekend or a vacation), there isn’t an army of staff to keep the business running.  Adjusting hours on Google can be a surprisingly difficult process: it’s not instantaneous, requires Google’s approval, and can be glitchy.  It is difficult to make changes across the multiple online platforms that people use to get their info these days, but we do our best.

We received some concerning reviews on Yelp from two people who tried to come into our shop the previous week. We were at the shop baking, cleaning, and getting ready to re-open for the first time in the new year. We weren’t open yet and they came while we were in the middle of an interview and photography session with a local magazine. We regret not being able to chat with them about their frustration (they had stormed off in a huff, upset that we weren’t open) and decided instead to vent their frustration online. You can view excerpts of their review and our response below.

I guess I should maybe just take this coordinated attack with humour and know that we must be doing something right if they are this disappointed that we are closed.  :) But the implication that we are self-absorbed, lazy and engaged in “nefarious” activity couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I just wanted to share this in hopes of starting a constructive discussion about online behaviour.  If this post reminds just a few people to behave a bit more kindly in life and online, it will have been worth it.  Much love.

- Steph, Bruce & the Roselle Team

Hi K & J,

As a small business who takes online reviews seriously (and in this case, personally), we would like to take a minute to respond to your complaints.

"This place is exceptionally irritating in that they never update their hours. I've literally tried to come three times now and they're either closed for vacation. Or taking a three week vacation for a two day holiday"

We close the shop once a year for about 2 weeks so our staff can take a much deserved holiday.  Closing for an extended period of time after Christmas is not unheard of in our industry. December is hands-down our busiest month and after its done, we need a break.

We took great care to post our Holiday Hours on our website (we had a headline on the homepage as well as on the "Find Us" tab), Instagram and Facebook. We also informed Google and Yelp, however, changes are subject to an approval process that is not always as instantaneous as we would like. Additionally, we posted two signs on our storefront. I'm not sure how we could have been more clear but I am happy to hear your suggestions on how to improve.   

"The last time I came (still closed, mind you), the owners were literally just sitting inside taking retro hipster photos of themselves and of course wouldn't serve us."

Your description makes it seem as though we chose not to serve you because we were too busy taking selfies. In reality, we were in the middle of an interview and photoshoot for Foodism Magazine, and as you, yourself stated, we were closed.

"In London, there was a fake restaurant that was able to get to the top spot on TripAdvisor just by taking a bunch of staged photos and writing reviews for themselves. There was no restaurant, and people would call the guy's cell phone to make reservations for a place that didn't exist. I'm pretty sure that's what Roselle is. Or maybe an elaborate front for some sort of nefarious activity. Or one of those new Instagram museums. But there's definitely no evidence it's a functioning business. Don't waste your time.

This is one of the most hurtful things I've ever read about us.

My husband, Bruce, and I started Roselle 4 years ago, and we haven't stopped working since.  That's 4 years of early mornings and late nights, giving our all into everything we do. We started the business with a vision and what little savings we had. Slowly but surely, we grew our business to include 6 staff members whom we provide fair pay, consistent schedules and a respectful, collaborative working environment. Our commitment to quality has never wavered since the first day, and we're always working to improve. We also care a lot about our community and have hosted various charity events that have raised collectively over $9000 for deserving local causes.  We work tirelessly for our business and our community and we take exception to the idea that we are somehow involved in “nefarious activities.”

We understand that it can be frustrating to show up at a business that is closed but please take into consideration that maintaining consistent hours can be tough for a small business.  When we depart for a much-needed break (whether for a weekend or a vacation), there isn’t an army of staff to keep the business running.

I hope you will reconsider your actions the next time you bravely take up your keyboard in the comfort of your own home to attack people who are genuinely trying to do their best.  Constructive criticism is always welcome but leave the cruelty aside.  The (online) world will be a better place for it.