Yet this traffic on at the TGI Friday’s roundabout in Caversham Road illustrates how the best business students can never match someone who just has a gut feeling for what will work.
The Range opened about 18 months ago and now the car park at the Station Retail Park that rarely got full before, is bursting at the seams every weekend. It gets so busy that, thanks to the road layout, those coming out frequently get stuck in the queue of those going in.
The firm was launched by former market trader Chris Dawson from Plymouth who worked out what people would buy and what they wouldn’t. I chatted with him by phone when he opened in Reading and was taken aback by his straight talking and the general lack of bull.
His shops, selling a bit of everything, are now opening at incredible speed. Four opened within a week recently and 20 more will open next year.
In Reading this weekend I witnessed people just shopping for pleasure. You sensed they had little idea what to buy before they went in.
But it’s not just the variety of stock that makes The Range successful. The firm has branched into everything from property to hearing aids and from waste management to financial services. The Reading store was fitted out by the firm’s own company of shopfitters.
There can hardly be a business like it, nor can there be many businessmen as unconventional as Chris Dawson. Reading was one of his main target areas for 12 years before he secured the perfect spot.
So when you get stuck on Vastern Road or Caversham Road because so many people want to get in, you can at least be assured the reason for your delay is that a British businessman had the originality and nous to give people what they want.
Many failing high street shops would do well to study this model. The simplicity, though, might prove a shock.