Boutique a top performer
WHEN Kim Winter bought SOBI Boutique in August 2008, the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) had just hit.
It forced her to re-think the way she ran her business.
Not only did Ms Winter survive the GFC but SOBI was awarded the Top Performer Award and Ladies Fashion and Encouragement Award at Lismore Shopping Square's Retailer Awards 2011 last month.
"When I took over the business I had a great time for the first 12 months, then the GFC really hit and the hard work began," she said.
"At first I was in denial that people's spending habits had changed.
"By 2010 I really noticed that customers wanted a lot more for much less."
So Ms Winter changed suppliers and began buying smaller quantities of stock.
The other part of her strategy was to make greater use of Facebook to market her clothing.
"I regularly put up posts about new stock, competitions and photos," she said.
"I post most days and find that photos get the most amazing reaction."
Ms Winter also keeps the dispatch and payment side of her business simple, sending out stock in pre-paid envelopes and taking payments by direct debit and credit card payment over the phone.
"I have a laptop in the shop and stay really involved in the conversation with my customers," she said.
"This made it easier to respond to peoples changing demands and react to what the buying trends are.
"I can also contact my customers when I am going to buy new stock and ask them what they want."
Ms Winter likes the freedom of being an independent retailer as she has complete control over buying and ordering.
"I buy much smaller quantities than the bigger chains and concentrate on buying quality merchandise," she said.
"That's important to my customers because the want to be assured that they are not going to see 50 of the same sort of dress in town.
The down side of this independence for Ms Winter is that she is often the last to get paid or have a break.
"I have to do my own bookwork and if I have a bad week it's my problem."