; “Knitting continues to be the in craft at the moment” - Boost Capital
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“Knitting continues to be the in craft at the moment” - Boost Capital


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									                     on the
Dave Bluff, owner of Sew-In tells us how he came
to open his first craft shop and has since gone on
to build a six-strong chain of stores
Can you tell me a bit about your                                                   Do you run workshops?                     each shop is effectively stand alone.     customers’ needs, while at the same
background and how the shop                                                        We don’t run workshops as such,           As each season progresses, we are         time developing the web-shop that
was started?                                                                       preferring to help customers with         able to move and re-balance stock to      we launched earlier this year. Thus
The original Sew-In business was                                                   particular issues either on the shop      ensure that we can still fulfil customer   enabling infrequent visitors to our
started in Buxton some 40 years ago,                                               floor or at our weekly ‘knit and           requirements at all three shops.          bricks and mortar branches to shop
and it slowly grew into a six-shop                                                 natter’ groups. We strongly believe            The greatest challenge to the        with us any time in our virtual store.
group spread across the south of                                                   that we are better helping customers      business itself is the fragile state of
Manchester, north east Cheshire and                                                out when they need assistance on the      the UK economy, and in particular
north west Derbyshire. After a degree                                              shop floor, rather than expecting          the delicate state of the average high
and a 15-year career in construction                                               them to book their place at an event.     street at the moment. It is really not
management, I was in need of a                                                                                               helped by the continuing growth of
complete change; fortunately the                                                   What have you learnt so far?              out-of-town retail parks and the
Maple branch was for sale and the                                                  One: To listen to every customer’s        boost in internet shopping.
rest is history really.                                                            needs but gain a general consensus             We continually strive to be the
    My first foray into retail was the                                              from everyone before committing to        best at what we do, to ensure that
Marple store, which I bought in                                                    anything new. That customer may in        each customer wants to both revisit
1995. Already a skilled cross-stitcher,                                            reality be the only one for a want for    us and sing our praises to their peers.
I was initially keen to build up the                                               that product.                             To that end our staff range in age
needlecraft side of the business,                                                      Two: Do things properly; it’s no      from 16 to 69; three are graduates,
before going on to extend the range                                                good expecting your customers to          all of who knit, most do cross-stitch
of knitting yarn stock. Next came my                                               accept a half-hearted attempt at a        and one has had a knitting project
shop in Didsbury in 1997, and with it                                              new range or brand.                       book published. In short, all are
came the opportunity to extend the                                                                                           passionate about needlecraft.
range further by introducing the           and needlework have broken out of       What are your bestsellers?
Rowan brand to an expectant local          their historic boundaries in the last   Knitting continues to be the ‘in’ craft   What are your future plans?
community of experienced knitters,         few years and now appeal to all ages    at the moment and that side of the        I will continue to grow the high street
who were happy to pay for these            and both sexes. We see a lot of         business outpaces needlework and          branches to fully satisfy our
premium knitting yarns. Then, in           young mums wanting to knit for their    haberdashery put together. It would
                                                                                   be nearly impossible to give a single

    “Knitting continues to be the ‘in’                                             bestseller from our yarn ranges; we         TOP TIPS FOR SAVING MONEY
                                                                                   currently stock some 180 qualities
                                                                                   from 16 major brands. Our best              David Abbott, managing director, BoostCapital.co.uk says...
          craft at the moment”                                                     selling yarn brand is Sirdar, the
                                                                                   business has always been a premier
                                                                                                                               1. Higher volume purchasing for bigger discounts
                                                                                                                               Buying in bulk allows you to get more value from your purchases but
2006 I bought the Buxton shop and          new family; equally the retired         Sirdar stockist and is currently            requires a healthy cash flow. Knowing your customers and their demand
gradually increased the ranges             generation wishing to continue or       probably the largest independent            for your products will allow you to make confident bulk purchases to
stocked there to coincide with those       come back to a craft that they          Sirdar stockist in the north west.          secure better supplier discounts.
held in Marple and Didsbury. All           mastered several decades ago.
three shops have been able to benefit       Obviously a large percentage of         What challenges do you face                 2. Avoid supplier credit
from the upsurge in the popularity of      customers at our Buxton branch are      and how do you overcome                     By paying cash on delivery you can avoid expensive credit terms and
knitting and we are currently              visitors to the Peak District, with     them?                                       negotiate further discounts; removing credit risk from your suppliers’
enjoying the trend in specialist stylish   many returning on a regular basis.      The greatest season-on-season               books is something that is worth money to them, and therefore you.
scarf yarns.                               Both Marple and Didsbury have a         challenge is to read market trends,
                                           more localised customer base, but       buy and then hold sufficient stocks of       3. Re-branding, refurbishing and re-marketing
Who are your main customer                 also see customers travelling from      this season’s ‘must-have’ yarns and         To keep your product offering fresh in your customers’ minds and to
base?                                      throughout Greater Manchester for       colours. At each branch of the store,       attract new business, it is important to present a well-developed and
Our customer base is not constrained       the breadth and depth of stock that     particularly at the beginning of a          delivered brand and product.
by either age or sex. Both knitting        we carry.                               season, stock levels are very high and


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