Most of the shops I’ve featured here at Business Plus Baby have been online shops, so I’m really pleased today to bring you an interview with Samantha Price, owner of the bricks-and-mortar children’s shoe shop Angels and Urchins.
Please could you tell us a little about your business?
I opened angels and urchins 3 years ago now – we moved to Bedford from North London in 2008, and I quickly realised there was a gap in the market for an independent, good quality children’s shoe shop. I did some market research, wrote a business plan, went on a couple of business courses, and before I knew it I was opening!
Finding the right premises was key – my shop is about 100yards away from the main High Street in Bedford, but that means my rent and rates are a lot less. Plus, as a “destination retailer” it’s not essential to be in the town centre. I offer a full measuring and fitting service (I am the ONLY independently qualified children’s shoe fitter in Bedfordshire!) and a range of top quality shoes from the UK and overseas. I have a box of toys for the children to play with, plus we play dvds to distract fractious toddlers!
What did you do before opening Angels and Urchins?
Before I had children, I was a stockbroker. I then took a career break, and did all sorts of things to fit around the kids – childminding, party plan etc. I had never run my own business before, but once I saw a gap in the market, the idea just wouldn’t go away.
It’s a daunting time to be running a shop, what made you decide to go down this route rather than starting an online shop?
The business I have chosen is definitely a face to face business. Children’s feet are very delicate – the bones don’t form fully until they are around 18 years old, so if you put them in badly fitted shoes you are damaging them for life. That’s why I need to see the children, measure their feet and fit the shoes properly. I do have an online presence (eBay) but that is just for fashion brands, like Converse and Lelli Kelly.
Which marketing methods have been the most successful for you?
Word of mouth, without a doubt! Although when I first opened I had to advertise quite heavily in newspapers and magazines, so people knew I was here. I also do promotions with local schools – I offer a percentage off for parents if the school put my flyers in their book bags. This has been really successful.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
I think once I’d got to the point of committing, taking that final step into the unknown. It’s quite daunting, taking on the responsibility of a lease, and all the stock costs, plus staff…and not knowing if it would even work! But on my opening day, we took over £1000, which was phenomenal.
What’s your advice for mums who are thinking of opening a shop?
Do your market research. Make sure there is a demand for what you are offering. If you are negotiating a lease, always put a break clause in. And location, location, location!
Thank you Samantha! You can find Angels and Urchins at:
www.angelsandurchins.org.uk 45 St Cuthbert’s Street, Bedford. Tel 01234 355661
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