I spend much time visiting local independent stores – not just trendy ones in West London, but often outside city centres. What strikes me each time is just how passionate the owners are about the products they are selling. I met Anita recently. People travel for miles to her store near Chartres, just south west of Paris to buy kitchenware and decoration, largely because they respect her taste and advice.
Why doesn’t she sell more, I ask her? Her answers point the way forward. For one thing, she doesn’t have room in her store to display any more; and then there is the risk on stock. Yet she agrees that if she could expose more, she would sell more.
I think this is actually a massive opportunity as a model for village retail. Think of small independent owner-run units that start of with an anchor range and the owner’s expertise and ability to curate a near stock-free offering using services such as Ankorstore or Faire. And then have these ranges beautifully displayed and laid out using an in-store digital service such as Cloudshelf. Customers come in initially for the anchor range, and are then delighted to see that the owner can guide them to other products – they have all the benefit of the wide ranging offering of an eCommerce experience, but extended by the owner’s knowledgeable advice.
It is a winning formula for regeneration, and one that we want to be part of.