Advice for enjoying your first Christmas as an indie retailer

Advice for enjoying your first Christmas as an indie retailer
“Don’t compare yourself to the big chains” – Rebecca Bogue, co-founder, Lunacy Boutique

It may be daunting and overwhelming but it’s also exciting and thrilling. Welcome to your first Christmas as an indie retailer.

We asked some seasoned independent retailers to shine a light on how to enjoy the rollercoaster ride of Christmas trading.

Here’s what they say…

“We are elves, not robots” – Sherrie Mead, Co-Founder, The Letteroom

“I take an old-fashioned approach and just stay calm, it’s only Christmas. I also drink lots of coffee and remember that it does end.

We still fly stock in last-minute and sometimes it arrives smashed. We’ve been told by customers that we’ve ruined their Christmases because they haven’t received their orders. We are elves not robots, mistakes happen.

We’re now in our ninth year, and it doesn’t get easier, but it is different time. It’s like children, they’re different each year.”

“It’s important to talk to people” – Julia Keeling, Director, Wishes of Cudworth

“Customer service is the number one thing for your first Christmas, so just interact with your customers, be as friendly as possible and politely sell to them in store.

Part of the reason why people shop local is for that interaction so just talk, that way you’ll get feedback too.

Remember, your first Christmas is a foundation. If you survive your first year you’ll be ok, it’ll be a measure for the future.”

“Ride the wave of the festive feeling” – Victoria Rex, Founder, The Women’s Society

“This will be our 10th Christmas, but I remember our first as being fun, it’s a time to enjoy your customers coming in and is a great time to find time to talk to them. We also met a lot of husbands coming to buy gifts so it was nice to faces to names. When they came in the following year they were really surprised we knew and remembered them.

There can be times when it’s stressful [when it’s busy in the store] but we find a way to offer the level of customer service, such as offering to hand-deliver it to someone’ place of work if we’re busy, or asking them to pop back after lunch.

Just enjoy it, it’s hard because you have a lot of the big boys discounting around you. Be clever in how you think about your window displays. People come in for the service so tailor it to them and they will come back again and again.

It’s a chance to ride the wave of the festive feeling. Christmas Eve is always good fun because it’s busy and everyone’s excited.”

“Don’t compare yourself to the big chains” – Rebecca Bogue, co-founder, Lunacy Boutique

“It’s really key not to compare yourself to the big chain stores and try and do the same things. If you do that it can become frustrating, you’re never going to have as much money to splash out – look at the plus points, you’re original.

You’re a small shop and people come to you for something different, so don’t feel you have to have the same opening hours and open on Boxing Day for example. Personally I think fashion is about having fun and not just about consumerism.

We’ve been open 13 years this December. Over the years we’ve tried to go into sale when they (the big chain) do, but it’s better to hang fire and just be you.

The key is to enjoy it. It is scary when you’re opening a shop because you don’t know if you’re going to get many customers, but that’s the nature of the game.”