The Forum

To respond to the unanswered questions below, or to ask a reader's advice, simply e mail:

Q Can I rely on a "portcullis" shutter system to protect my shop or must it be solid steel

A The portcullis models are really only suitable for shops in shopping centres where there is already some security . In an open street you're inviting trouble if you don't opt for solid steel.

Chris, London

A If you buy solid steel, make sure you also buy some industrial detergent. Graffiti "artists" seem unable to resist a blank metal canvas.

GF, Harrogate

Q My local microbrewery is run by lovely, enthusiastic people who sadly make dreadful beer. Do I stock it as a gesture of solidarity or explain my concerns about the quality

A Why not just express your concerns? It's possible nobody has had the guts to explain why they don't place repeat orders. If you can give the brewery some honest, constructive criticism, you'll be doing them an immense favour. A microbrewery in my area used to turn out some pretty ropey beers but, with encouragement from Camra, they've sorted out their quality issues.

Bill, Sussex

A Look around at your big-budget international brands. Are you seriously telling me none of those are dreadful? Yet look at how well they sell.

Les, Leicester

Q I pride myself on having tasted every wine on my shelves and I write tasting notes for them all. But when a customer challenged me to describe and identify some of them in a recent blind tasting, I was all at sea. Is this proof that I don't know my business as well as I thought I did, or does everyone make these kinds of mistakes?

Mike, Scotland

Q I've just told a charity worker that I don't want another collection box on my counter because it's valuable sales space. I feel guilty now - but my margins are tiny and business is tough. Was I really being mean?

Andy, Notts

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