We canít believe we opened our shop in Liverpool ten years ago this September. It doesnít seem that long ago and yet when we try and picture what Bold Street was like then before all the cafés and restaurants moved weíre shocked by how much has actually changed and that 10 years in retail really is a long time.
My memories back then are really hazy now. We opened in a blur. Minimum training, the manager was instantly on a pre-existing booked holiday, we had very little knowledge of anything and in fact, we didnít even have a till, just an old fashioned cash tin under the counter. That didnít stop us though, our first days trading was so busy. Fair Trade was alive in this city and we all felt it (in our feet and our backs) come closing time.
It took us a good few months to get to grips with the stock and the Shared Earth ways. My previous experiences were largely supermarket based where the food sold itself. You didnít have to understand the difference between a Maris Piper and King Edward potato and which one was better for mashing than the other, you just scanned the barcode and moved on. In retrospect, I didnít realise at the time just how easy that was. The Shared Earth way was different, harder, we have 1000s of products and we had to learn the origins of each one. We had to learn where they were made, by whom and how buying that product further enriched the workers lives. I think that was the point I realised what true customer service entailed and that anybody who thinks retail is easy isnít doing it right.
It was a hard slog, getting to grips with the stock, our fancy new electronic till and learning everything we could whilst dealing with the growing number of shoppers we were attracting but we were doing it. For those of you whoíve shopped with us since the beginning, I think you can agree how far weíve come in 10 years. Weíve got the rare queues down to an art form, our window displays look much more professional, as does our shop floor, our merchandising skills are officially the best on Bold Street (as judged by me) and rather than getting asked if weíve been here long we get people telling us how weíre their favourite shop in Liverpool and that they love coming in..