Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Lovely local suppliers

Over 80% of the products we stock in the shops are locally sourced, alongside some carefully chosen products that I buy to compliment the local offer. These days, over two years after we first opened, it's quite rare for me to find a new local supplier so it's very exciting to get a phone call a few minutes ago from someone at Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding Company. This world renowned local company are bringing out Christmas puddings and a new range of ambient puds that don't need refrigeration. Perfect! I can't wait to receive the samples which will, of course, need rigorous testing...
Also, later this week (hopefully) we're starting to stock a new jewellery collection by Jane Shaw, who is based in the north of Cumbria. Her beautiful pieces are more "chunky" (for lack of a better word) than our current jewellery so should add a new dimension to our range.
Now to get everything on the website....mmm.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Not quite a cashless society

Yesterday's trauma was that the credit card machine in Bowness, for reasons best known to itself, decided to not accept any cards, flashing up a message that (of course) wasn't in any of it's accompanying manuals. The 24 hour support service didn't extend to Sundays so, in the end, we tried the last trick in the unwritten gadget handbook - turn it off for 5 minutes and then reboot.
In both stores, the majority of the transactions are done with debit or credit card so it was quite a surprise to see that, when push came to shove, most customers weren't flummoxed by the inconvenience of a nonfunctioning credit card machine. Digging deep in to pockets and purses, our lovely customers were happy to pay with cash - one couple even calculated the taxi fare back to their hotel before paying for a a large candle with the rest of their cash. The strange thing is that, once the credit card machine was fixed, the majority of the rest of the day's sales were paid for with money rather than cards.
Today, normal service is resumed and we're gettign ready to take in our Autumn/Winter stock this week. It's set to be colder by Thursday/Friday so customers may be in the mood to buy comfort food, cashmere scarves and autumn fragrances like cinnamon and orange. Let's hope so!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Beware of innocuous middle aged female shoppers!

September is a fabulous month in the Lakes. July and August are great because it's generally so busy but September is as good businesswise because a different sort of customer emerges: one that doesn't have their children's constant entertainment in mind (sorry to generalise but it really is like that).
The weather in the Lakes has been lovely so far this month but yesterday, at around 4pm., in Bowness a quick thunderstorm occurred accompanied by a brief powercut in the shop. There were a fair few folk in the shop at the time, including 3 middle aged ladies carrying open shopping bags who were inspecting the Lakeland Fragrance display.
After the inevitable slight confusion cleared and the power came back on, Jules did a quick reccie of the shop and found a couple of Eau de Toilettes had disappeared along with the 3 ladies. I'm going to make another generalisation now....it is nearly always middle aged female shoppers who steal from us. Why, oh why, oh why?
P.S. I'm being interviewed by Radio Cumbria this afternoon...I'm not sure what about but I've had to pick my favourite song of the moment (which is Mumford and Sons Winter Winds) for them to play. Desert Island Discs eh?