Being a retailer: narratives not on display

Ruth D., Gunn F., Elms J.

International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, vol.50, no.5, pp.581-598, 2022 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 50 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1108/ijrdm-05-2020-0171
  • Journal Name: International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, INSPEC
  • Page Numbers: pp.581-598
  • Keywords: SMEs, Strategy-as-practice, Entrepreneur, Narratives
  • TED University Affiliated: No


© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the everyday tasks and activities undertaken by retailer entrepreneurs and owner/managers when they strategize. Specifically, it interrogates the nature of the intuitive, idiosyncratic strategic agency of a retail owner/manager. Design/methodology/approach: Through adopting a combination of phenomenological and narrative approaches, focussing on illuminating the everyday operational and strategic practices of one retail entrepreneur and owner/manager, a richly contextualized, ideographic account of the procedures and outcomes of their strategizing is provided. Findings: By revealing narratives that are seldom obvious – often kept behind the counter, and not on display – the authors are able to unravel the social reality of the retailer's decision-making, and the influences of identity, connections with customers and community, emotions and the spirit, and love and family. This study also illuminates how entrepreneurs retrospectively make sense out of the messiness of everyday life particularly when juggling the melding of personal and business realities. Research limitations/implications: This paper explores the experiences and reflections of the decision-making of one retail entrepreneur manager within a particular business setting. However, the use of an ideographic approach allowed for an in depth investigation of the realities of strategic practices undertaken by a retail owner that may be extrapolated beyond this immediate context. Originality/value: This paper develops original insights into the retailer as an individual, vis-à-vis an organization, as well as nuanced understanding of the actual nature of work undertaken by retail entrepreneurs and owner/managers. To this end, this paper contributes to the “strategy-as-practice” debate in the strategic management literature, and to narrative analysis and advances insights to the perennial question: “what is a retailer?”.