Focus Magazines The local magazines for Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Brecon & Talgarth – Events, News and Advertising

Fable Toy Shop AbergavennyEmma Corfield-Walters, owner and proprietor of Fable Toyshop in Abergavenny and Bookish in Crickhowell, gives us an insight into the trials and tribulations as well as the rewards associated with opening and owning a retail business.

Q. How did you get from the initial lightbulb moment of wanting to open a shop to actually doing so? Where did you start and how long did the process take?

A. I made the decision to sell my building surveying company in June 2010. It was a snap decision but based on a growing feeling that I’d achieved everything I’d set out to achieve in that field. In a few weeks I’d realized that I had an opportunity to combine my business knowledge with the childhood dream of owning a bookshop. The lease was signed in early September and five weeks later we opened Bookish. Fable was opened after a similar snap decision; we wanted a second shop and feedback told us that people wanted traditional toys on the High Street. Again, we just went for it. I’m a very optimistic person and feel strongly that if you work hard enough at something you will succeed.

Q. How did you know your business idea was going to work?

A. We didn’t! It was a complete gamble based on passion and gut feeling. Everything seemed to fall into place quickly, from the shop premises to the shop name and feedback from the local area. We put together a business plan and just crossed our fingers and toes. We also knew that we had the support of family and friends behind us, which has proved absolutely invaluable. We’re very lucky.

Q.What were the biggest challenges you faced in setting up your business?

A. Entering the world of book selling with absolutely no previous experience was very daunting as there are some amazing booksellers out there and we are a very little fish in a big pond. It was difficult to know if we were doing the right thing in terms of what we were buying and how we were presenting it to our customers. It was all about gaining confidence and experience.

Oh and finding out I was pregnant a month after we opened presented it’s own challenges!
Q. Where did you go to get business and funding support?

A. The Welsh assembly Government were running a scheme which offered free business advice – basically somebody to look over your figures and advise you, which was a great help when approaching the banks. Other than that I just spoke to as many retailers and buyers as I could.
Q.Putting together a good business plan can be quite a daunting prospect. Any tips?

A. Do your research. There are lots of snippets of information about which will give you useful insights as to your demographic and possible trends. Be conservative in your estimations of how your business will progress in the first two years, it takes time to build up a solid reputation and customer base. Also a mistake a lot of people make is to not include VAT when putting costs together.
Q. What’s the best advice you can give someone looking to set up their own business?

A. Network, Network, Network! There are lots of very experienced people out there who are able to provide invaluable advice and expertise and help. Be visible (both on and offline) and get involved in your community. These days you can’t just sit behind a till and expect customers to come to you, you need to get out there and tell the world about your fantastic business and hope that in time your reputation will grow and others will be shouting about how wonderful you are too!
Fable Toyshop is located at 47 Cross St, Abergavenny and Bookish can be found at 23 High St, Crickhowell

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