Despite many retailers feeling the squeeze, Cosham appears to be ‘bucking the trend’ of struggling to make ends meet.
Shop owners The News spoke to reported good business – with one shop even saying ‘business was the best’ it had been in 30 years.
The rise of the internet and increasing costs to run shops has not, it seems, curtailed the success of some retailers.
But in Cosham’s case it appears those making a good fist of business are those that are well established or require customers to touch and see items before buying them.
Business owner Keith Shaw, who runs charity shop Help 4 Special Children, which sells many items for 50p or £1, said trade was at its best level since they started up in 2010. ‘We sell a variety of things at very reasonable rates which helps bring people through the door,’ he said.
‘The best place to have a shop is where there are lots of people and we’re fortunate because we have a good location. People come to Cosham for the charity shops – with there seven in total – but it’s good because it means lots of people are coming here for our market. We make it nice for people to come in to the shop and want to come back. We keep the front window fresh and full of stock and have a library out the back where people can look around and read a few books.
‘Often people will come in for one thing and walk out with a few bits because of the variety we have. There’s lots for everyone here.
‘We use eBay to sell things online but we make far more money from selling through our street shop.’
Mick Downs, manager of carpet retailer Finishing Touch, said trade for the 30-year-old business had never been better despite not trading online. ‘In many ways we are one of the last bastions of the high street with people needing to come in to see and touch the material before buying it,’ he said.
‘We’ve been here for 30 years so have built up a reputation in the area which helps a lot. We’re also well supported by the manufacturers who give us good margins compared to what they give online retailers.
‘Business has been good recently – in fact it’s probably the best we’ve had in 30 years and we don’t sell anything online. It’s about delivering a high quality service that keeps people coming back. We’re optimistic about the future. The business rates are always creeping up which makes it difficult but people are prepared to spend more on better quality that lasts longer. If you can’t absorb the price increase then it has to be passed on to the customer.’
With vape shop Every Cloud opening up a store every month it is clear that business is booming in this new and ever evolving market. ‘Vape shops are taking off. Ten years ago there were no vape shops but now they’re everywhere,’ operations manager John Humphry said.
‘Although it’s a new industry it is one where people prefer to go to the shop and try before buying. We create an enjoyable experience for our customers by providing comfortable leather seating and offering them drinks.
‘We’re the best vape shop and know what we’re doing.’ Fone Revive, a mobile phone repair shop which only opened 10 months ago, also reported good news after a difficult start. ‘At the start we had to generate business and get the word out but after a few months we started seeing results after people told others about us,’ sales manager Connor Sherman said. ‘We have a Facebook page which helps us a lot but having a store with a high street presence has made a big difference with people just popping in when they walk past – that’s how we get most of our business.
‘The future is looking bright and we are a growing business with stores that have recently opened in Southampton, Newquay and Torquay which means we now have 30 stores having started out six years ago. Increasing business rates is something you just have to deal with.’
n TOMORROW: The spotlight falls on Fareham.