Bury St Edmunds retailers discuss benefits of selling only one product type
“It is an advantage to be the only person in town selling something,” says Tim Farnsworth.
The owner of Just Our Stall knows all there is to know about sheepskin. Since starting out as a stall holder in Bury Market he has become a well known trader and has now opened The Shop in St John’s Street.
Tim is one of a number of retailers in Bury St Edmunds who specialise in one product type.
As part of our Love Local series of features, it has already been said that shop owners could look to provide several services.
Mike Kirkham, of Our Bury St Edmunds, said: “We could see places offer several functions within one venue, like a clothes shop that also has a coffee shop.”
But while independent shop owners do not dispute this could work for some, many feel selling one specific product is attractive too.
"You can’t have every shop selling coffee upstairs, but it works in some places - they do a good one in Vinyl Hunter!”- Tim Farnsworth
Tim Farnsworth continued: “People have said they have come into town just to see our range.
“Every company tries to sell a niche. Pocket Watch & Petticoats, two doors down, sells only women’s clothes from the 1940s and 50s - no other company does that.
“It is a brilliant town for all sorts of things. People say Bury is like how high streets used to be. And it’s better from the customer’s point of view if the person selling is able to give advice.”
He added: “You can’t have every shop selling coffee upstairs, but it works in some places - they do a good one in Vinyl Hunter!”
Tim believes that in having many independent shops providing their own specialist offering, Bury has its own unique selling point as a place for shoppers to come to.
It is a trend seen on a larger scale in Berlin, where specialist shops exist for unusual items such as model ants and knitted meat.
René van den Oort, owner of Beautiful Beers in St John’s Street, considers his shop to have one of the UK’s largest ranges of the drink.
He said: “I have been in this spot for eight years. There are many more bottle shops than there used to be because of the rising popularity of beer in general. It will continue for as long as people are interested in beer.
“It is all about personal service. People will still be looking for that one thing, above all else.”
As for whether he felt valued, he added “I’m rated five stars on TripAdvisor, so I must be.”
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, said: “The great thing about specialising is that it can draw people from far and wide for a service that can’t be replicated in a more general store.
“Competition is also likely to be fairly minimal.
The downside is if that speciality is no longer flavour of the month.”
He added: “I would like to see some of our larger units get converted into lots of shops that are specialised .
“It takes some creativity on behalf of landlords.”