Mike and Jane Clarke recently returned from the only holiday they've had so far this year - three days in Torquay. But Mike says the break did them good and made a change from "rushing around like idiots". But it was back to the treadmill on thier return because of staff sickness and the departure of their manager just five months into the job.
"I pinched him from the local bookmaker and they've pinched him back," said Mike, who is frustrated because he must now spend hours training the replacement manager.
He is trying to decide between two candidates he thinks would be suitable for the post.
The Oxford store has been doing OK over the summer with turnover around £36,000 a week, although the lottery has failed to contribute as much as Mike had hoped. It is pumping through only about £1,500 a week compared with the expected £3-4,000.
But Mike still reckons it's early days. "Maybe people haven't cottoned on to the fact we do it. I'm confident the figure will go up soon."
Alcohol and cigarettes continue to contribute the highest figures and although cigarettes ­ with £8,600 in weekly sales ­ have the lowest margin, they don't take up much space and are easy to merchandise.
According to Mike, independent shop takings usually take a bit of a dip in September, but this hasn't happened. "I'm not really sure why, maybe we're still on an upward curve."
He hasn't been doing any extra advertising or promotions, apart from the usual Spar ones, and admits they probably couldn't cope with an extra influx of shoppers. "The last thing we need is more customers. We need to straighten ourselves out first and get a full quota of staff!"
One drama he could do without is the court appearance of the man accused of holding up the store earlier in the summer, and Mike may be called as a witness.
He says: "I provided the video evidence from the CCTV. I hope it won't be necessary for me to go to court. I've never had to do that before."

The Chinese connection
Roger Waterfield has just been through a similar situation in Torpoint after a man who held up the store was jailed for 12 months. Roger's CCTV film was used as evidence and, because the man pleaded guilty, he did not have to appear as a witness.
Says Roger: "The man had a knife but I knew who he was and I wasn't frightened. I was just glad it hadn't happened to one of the girls who work here."
Crime aside, it has been a quiet month at the Rally Food and Wine store ­ as September normally is ­ but the store is turning over about £15,000 a week. Roger hopes that an initiative with a local Chinese restaurant will reap dividends.
He has paid to advertise on its menus and online. As he says: "People tend to hang onto takeaway menus, so we think it's a good concept." The restaurant will print 20,000 menus a year and will give Roger vouchers so he can take the staff for a meal. He hopes the publicity will help attract the half of the town which doesn't often use his shop.
He is also on the case to get a combi-post office counter put in. It's something he and wife Chris have unsuccessfully attempted for years. Now, however, the local sub-post office has been closed and Roger plans to ask Londis if it will help campaign for a counter. "If we managed to get it, it would make a real impact on our turnover."
Other plans include a bid to increase sales of hot food from the food to go counter in the evenings. Roger aims to advertise it in fliers nevertheless.
Shopping around for deals
Bambos Charalambous has had a quiet couple of months at the Mediterranean Supermarket: "No fireworks. But turnover has been steady at £23,000 a week." Instore promotions have been a big help. A Walkers crisps display doubled sales, and the current Stella promotion ­ six cans for £5 ­ has done almost as well.
He likes the fact that reps make the effort to put the display together and organise PoS, and is keen to continue the initiatives with other big brand manufacturers. "Promotions are always welcome. They are one of the keys to selling more gear."
He still hasn't committed himself to converting to the new Booker fascia. Bambos has been shopping around at cash and carries for deals. "It takes more time but I think it's worth it as it means I save more money and keep my options open."
In store fresh meat is doing alright intermittently ­ thanks in part to a new window sign ­ and he has had another consignment of goods from Cyprus, mainly sweets and honey.
Bambos is looking for another store to take on ­ possibly a bigger one ­ but is really looking forward to a 10-day break next month.

Getting a bit of voice
Over at Neish's store in Peterhead, where turnover is steady at £45,000, Lara Anderson is gearing up for the annual Nisa conference in Lisbon. It's a chance to catch up with other retailers and meet reps: "It's not confrontational ­ we get to talk about initiatives and the future of the company. It's worthwhile as you get a bit of a voice."
She is looking forward to filling other delegates in on the store's makeover, something already recognised in a national competition ­ Neish's is one of the finalists in the Wiseman's Shop of the Year contest. Shoppers had to fill in comment forms, and Lara's pleased they're so happy. "It also gives the staff a boost," she says.
The win got the store local paper publicity and this, along with leaflet drops, means it's picking up new shoppers. "We know they're new as they ask where things are!"
Neish's lowered the level of the till counter to make paying easier, and has now installed a queuing system by putting a rope barrier in front of the tills so shoppers are served in turn. Lara says: "People think it's fairer."
She is relieved that the local prison, which was threatened with closure, has been reprieved. Closure would have had a big impact on sales.
Things are looking up for the fishing fleet too; the Andersons had suffered when most of the boats were decommissioned which meant they lost about 10% of their turnover through lost sales to the crews. October is the start of a new fishing season which means a few different boats will have orders for the store.