Gift Shop Hub has teamed up with Berni Parker Designs for our third article featuring their recent Shop of the month competition winners. Today’s winner is Buy the Light which is based in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. Bury St Edmunds is a lovely old market town with a Cathedral, a ruined Abby. The town has a produce market twice a week and is allegedly home to the smallest pub in England.
The shop was born in 1998 and they moved to their current location in January of this year.
Hi, Buy Light, tell us a little about your shop…
Our current shop is a lovely characterful, listed building based in the “Medieval Grid” area of the town i.e. the old bit!
It has picture postcard windows, low ceilings and an uneven floor. Our doorway has two steps down from the street level, which sadly several customers have not seen. It gives a whole new meaning to “making an entrance”! We are happy to say though that no one has been injured!
We’re primarily a home fragrance and gift shop, but we do exceptionally well with Berni Parker cards, gift bags and stationary. We’ve lost count of how many years we have stocked them for.
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
Being an independent business our main aim is to stand out from the crowd! We try very hard to stock things no one else does, and love to buy British. Anything from hand made ceramic hearts from Yorkshire to one off paintings from local artists. And of course Berni’s cards!
What do you love about Berni Parker Designs’ cards?
What’s not to love?? It’s an absolute joy to see a group of ladies standing around the spinner giggling for twenty minutes, and it happens a lot! They have an appeal that spans generations, and are different enough to stand out from the run of the mill cards you get in the larger card shops.
What products do you sell in your shop?
We’re known locally as the candle shop, Yankee Candles, Woodwick, Kringle candles to name a few! Edge sculptures – which are stunning and again, British made, and plenty of gift items from lightboxes to wooden ducks, Steiff bears , and glassware. We cram a lot in!
What links do you have to the local community?
We’re so lucky, we have run a loyalty card scheme for many years and because of that we now know a lot of our customers by name. It really helps a small business to know your customers well. Our new location is between two other independent shops, both of which are very supportive. We also try to support local charities with their raffle prize requests, providing products, gift baskets or vouchers.
What tips do you have for fellow small business owners?
Know your market! Everything from location, to what other shops are stocking, and dare to be a little bit different!
How do the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environments impact your business?
Everything impacts it to a certain extent, With the recent election and Brexit, it’s definitely had an impact – though I think that’s more down to negativity from the media, and not necessarily a true representation of how things actually are. When the media are being all doom and gloom, it’s inevitable it will rub off onto the general public.
How do you market your business?
Word of mouth and local media were once really all you could do, but now social media has taken it to a new level. We’re currently revamping our website and Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are a great way of being seen and are zero cost!
Quick fire questions:
We’ve taken comments from all the staff, so no one person owns all these answers! Favourite song: Everlong by the Foo Fighters. Never tire of hearing it.
Film: The History Boys, anything Alan Bennett related and I’m happy!
Favourite animal: dogs, preferably whippets, (I really should get Bernie to do a card with a whippet on it!) and Cocker Spaniels.
Website: Work in Progress – watch this space.
Social Media: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram: buythelight