While many other retail businesses have struggled in the recession, home appliance shop Buywise in Parsons Street, Banbury is still going strong having been serving customers for nearly 40 years.
Set up in 1976, Buywise was originally located in Warwick Road but in the late 1980s it relocated to its current town centre spot, where it sells more or less everything for the home, ranging from cookers and smaller appliances to beds and furniture. The front of the store may be small but looks can be deceiving, as behind the bright yellow signs is a 4,000sq ft interior which stretches all the way back to Bolton Road.
But what is it that makes this established business so resilient?
Managing director Jolyon New, who took over the business eight years ago when his father-in-law Peter Bendle retired, says it all comes down to customer service and an ability to adapt.
He said: “I’m really passionate about the high street and our shop – I don’t really want to be online. Where’s the fun in that?
“I could shut the shop and just sell online, but where’s the service? I want to serve the people of Banbury and the surrounding areas.”
In the past nine months more than £20,000 has been spent on ensuring the shopping experience at Buywise is a unique one.
The shop now boasts a design centre, sponsored by Rangemaster, which is similar to a showroom filled with a variety of range cookers.
Here customers can have a go, boil some water on the induction hob and get a feel for the items, as well as being talked through all the details of the appliances.
An area in the store has also been dedicated to built-in appliances such as ovens and hobs where customers can get a real sense of what the items will look like in a finished kitchen.
Here customers can sit down and have a free cup of coffee while flicking through brochures and getting inspired by the surroundings.
Mr New said: “More or less everything in the store can be demonstrated.
“We want to give customers an enriched shopping experience.
“The question is what value people put on that. If everyone buys online instead, all these great independent shops will disappear.
“What we want is to get even more people to come in, have a cup of coffee and a chat to really get a sense of what we’re about.”
He added another of the store’s selling points is its same day or next day delivery, which it can honour by keeping large amounts of stock in a warehouse.
Mr New said the wide range also means there is something to suit all budgets.
He said: “We are competitive with our prices and we do price match, but that’s not really the point.
“The cost of the item may be £10 less online but it’s very shortsighted and you don’t get all those additional bits included. We deliver it to customers’ homes, install it and take away all the packaging afterwards.
“We’re also here so people know where to turn after they’ve bought something from us – it goes beyond the sale.”
l For more on Buywise see http://www.buywiseofbanbury.co.uk/