Products that you like may not be what your customer wants. Chris Kettle
Aria Crafts expanded from a local hand crafts and toys supplier to focus on household products from ethically-sourced Balinese suppliers before its most recent development, the newly opened Happy Buddha in Bournemouth.
Managing director Chris Kettle shares his story and tips.
THE ARIA CRAFTS STORY
Aria Crafts was founded in 1989 with an intention to supply traditional toys and local hand-made crafts from Wales.
Customer feedback indicated a demand for other unique and unusual products and as a result the range was expanded to include crafts from all over the world, with a particular focus on ethically-sourced products from Bali
Growing demand prompted the company to set up online, and to develop a physical presence to put its product ranges directly in front of customers.
This has growth through market stalls on the south coast of England and through outlets such as The Emporium in Christchurch specialising in Asian crafts, incense and aromatherapy and its newly opened Happy Buddha shop in Bournemouth.
CHRIS’S KEY LESSONS
1 Finding suppliers
As a ‘market trader’ one of our biggest problems was finding suppliers who were happy to supply us since we were not a traditional bricks and mortar retailer. With perseverance we eventually managed to source some of the best suppliers by providing pictures of our stands and showing our marketing skills for their products.
2 Product choice
One of the realities most retailers come to face at some point is the fact that some products that you personally like may not be what your customer wants (who is always right!)
3 Moving stock on
When we find a certain line does not sell, we get rid of it. Full shelves of non-selling product is futile, selling space is valuable. Once you find your product mix always make sure you have enough stock (not excessive) to cover demand.
4 Financing the business
Finally, do not overextend yourself financially. There are always hidden costs. Start small, reinvest, grow the business and profit will look after itself.