I usually write a blog offering a recipe or advice but this time I thought I would reflect on the three years since I took over the shop. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would become a retailer. I was a complete novice, having to learn quickly how to work the till, use a chip and pin machine, liaise with suppliers, how to display stock and manage the accounts. Teaching business is certainly very different to running a business!
I found the Chamber and fellow retailers in the town a great help – always ready to answer my questions and offer advice when required. I discovered that the customers were also helpful and considerate as well as being loyal.
The little shop increased trade and it was a losing battle trying to display stock – especially at Christmas. After two years, it became obvious that the shop was too small and my hunt for larger premises began. I nearly secured the old Santander building but something told me not to proceed. It was when the Peer Group approached me, I started considering St Mary Centre as an option.
Fiona’s Kitchen was definitely the right location with the upstairs ideal for the Cake School. When hubbie gave the thumbs up, I started proceedings and negotiated a good deal. I would add that the rates are no more expensive than any other market town and often the landlords do not deserve the bad press that they receive. The hunt began for shop fittings and hubbie worked out the refurbishment to fall within the budget.
A month of very long hours eventually led to the move. Dee decided to join us, renting the Studio for classes and her cake decorating business. The stock range is increasing all the time, addressing the needs of the growing customer base. The courses are diverse and varied, and the Studio’s reputation is growing.
I feel very privileged to have such a lovely shop with fantastic customers and staff. I have learnt so much in the three years and feel more confident when dealing with suppliers as well as displaying the stock. I still don’t know how to use all the facilities that are available on the point of sale and will probably always be dippy! It is never my intention to deal on line. The objective of the shop is to offer a full range of cake decorating equipment which is constantly updated. Also, to offer a personal service and allow people time to plan their cakes, match up colours, ribbons etc. My aim during my fourth year of trading is to increase the range of products, grow the reputation of the Cake Studio and possibly, to take more time off!!
Thank you SO MUCH for all your help and support xx