Moving into the world of bricks & mortar retailing can be a big step for an independent label. On-line retailing with direct to consumer sales is normally the preffered route of most independent labels. But opening a bricks & mortar store can bring awareness of your label to a completely new customer base and create unforeseen opportunities. We chat with Charlotte Day founder of Dandy Star (see Brand profile) to find out why she made the move, the pros and cons, and in the process we discover the Dandy Star stores personality.
Tell us about the past year with your store and what you have planned for the future? The new shop has been a total revelation, it wasn’t exactly planned for. My Friend Rob Ryan had the shop before and rang me up to offer it, he was off to pastures new. I slept on it and then said yes, so I only had a 2 months to prep and 1 week from getting the keys and we were open. We did a simple refurb/repaint just to get in and get a feel. Consequently we have rebuild the storage around the window and moved the counter. For the future I would like to run a few small exhibitions within the shop to promote people who I know and whose work I admire. We did a small photographic show in September last year which really worked. I want to keep the shop interesting that’s my aim.
When did you open your bricks & mortar store compared to selling online? We opened the store on 7th March 2016 and we have been selling online for 10 years
What percentage of total sales does the bricks & mortar store represent? The shop represents at least 60% of our turnover now.
Where is your store located and how important is this location? The shop is located in Columbia Road, East London. It is famous for the flower market on Sundays. The market brings thousands of people every Sunday from locals, to tourists and out of towners – it’s big deal and this without doubt brings people to my shop and the brand.
Consumers are now more comfortable buying online than they were a few years back. Does this mean you have had to change the way you approach the bricks & mortar experience for your customers? Most definitely I buy in products that sit with what I design for Dandy Star to curate a range that looks good together visually. I always say to people that no one comes into your online store and says ” what a beautiful shop” but people say this to me and my staff on a weekly basis which makes us feel great.
Do you feel having a bricks & mortar store helps your online presence? Yes we are able to reach customers that don’t necessarily know us through kidswear but that live and work nearby, plus tourists who take our postcards back home with them. We have great images so we give out a lot of postcards.
Do you run the online store (fulfillment, etc) from your bricks & mortar store?
Yes we do it’s small but it works.
What features and practises do you feel helps create repeat custom and a loyal customer base? Customer service is really everything and how you deal with the mistakes, and there are always mistakes! People expect an Amazon type service but we are a small team.
Landlords, overheads and rates are aspects specific to bricks & mortar retailing. As a store owner what measures do you feel would help independent retailers with bricks & mortar to ensure that they can carry on trading and flourish? The rates is a huge issue we have just fought a campaign here in East London where property prices have rocketed but that does not necessarily translate into sales. The rates are worked out on the value of the property, the government needs to revisit this and work out a fairer system. I could be paying the same as Starbucks, thankfully no one would allow them into Columbia Road we are united on that. We all belong to The East End Trades Guild an organisation set up to help the small and interesting business’s that have made East London the destination it now is.
Finally, describe your store in terms of personality… Dandy Star is not just for kids. I really want to create something for the older kids and ‘big kids’ choosing things for their homes and their wardrobe. An appreciation of colour might be useful too! we don’t do beige.
Thanks Charlotte !
Dandy Star pieces you will find in store.
LONDON SHOP & HQ
126 Columbia Road
Tel : 020 7613 1510