A few of you have asked if I’m still working at Crede, my friend Pavla’s boutique in Exeter, as I haven’t mentioned it recently. Yesterday I had an email from Mary (thanks) who brought the subject up, prompting this update.
Yes, I am still working there in between my farming, business and writing commitments. But since that fateful Black Monday at the beginning of October I have only been helping out occasionally, whenever Pavla has to go away on buying trips. She can no longer afford the luxury of everyday staff.
Recession, hype, panic and worldwide financial mayhem has severely affected shopping habits making it a hard and rocky road for retail businesses. Six independents have gone into liquidation in Exeter in as many months. It’s pretty frightening if you’re a small business out there at the moment.
Pavla’s worked hard and relentlessly over the last nine months. As she notes, there are benefits of being an independent in times like these. You have the ability to respond quickly to feedback from customers, and to adapt quickly to changing economic circumstances.
Pavla says “I read a lot about ‘credit crunch’ last January and February so adapted my buying accordingly. I sourced a wider range of well priced, interesting everyday items as well as keeping the more unusual investment pieces.
“I looked at what overheads to cut, again I have the flexibility to make cutbacks where necessary – but unfortunately that meant Paula’s hours! I really miss her contribution to Crede – as someone who has run her own business she understands all about customer service – again something that independents can offer that high street can’t – personal service, as well as an enthusiastic love of clothes!
“Although mostly I have been looking to where I can reduce costs, one area I didn’t want to cut back on was advertising and marketing. I need to balance out the fact that my customers have less spending power at the moment, I just need to find more of them!”
Apart from making the shop a special and enticing place to be in she has joined forces with neighbouring retailers to promote Castle Street as a good shopping area.
“We are all independents in this area which despite being very close to High Street some people are still unaware of. Rosie (of Violette) and I worked together on some ideas and have come up with a Christmas leaflet design. We are all contributing to the costs of printing and my mum is doing a leaflet drop in Exeter.
It may be difficult times, but in a positive way this can generate ingenuity and creativity.”