Gemma Lessinger is a buyer for Ann’s Cottage surf stores in Cornwall, which has nine outlets in the county.
We’ve had a really busy season down in Cornwall - it never fails to draw in tourists - but this year has been exceptional.
Cornwall is famous for its beautiful beaches, stunning rugged landscape and amazing food. When people come down on holiday, they want to buy into that laid-back, beach lifestyle.
This summer, we have seen a huge surge in customers buying brands strongly linked to Cornwall and surfing life. We have stocked nalu beads for many years - glass beads each named after a famous beach location or surf spot. This year, our sales of the Cornish locations have rocketed, with customers wanting that specific location bead as a reminder of their holiday.
Last summer we also launched our own lifestyle brand ACS, which had a great initial reaction, and sales this summer have been amazing, with customers loving the direct link to Cornwall. Yet our struggle is trying to keep those consumers engaged when they go home. To encourage return visits to the shop or website, we have introduced our own loyalty card scheme so customers can earn redeemable points in store and online.
We have also just launched our new website so people can carry on shopping with us when they’ve finished their holiday. One online feature we are really proud of is our HD cameras delivering daily surf reports - so people can see what is going on with the surf, either to head to the beach or just to bring back those summer memories. This innovation increases traffic to the website, generates an expanding digital database, resulting in extra sales, as well as broadening our advertising opportunities and cementing our strong brand position. Our focus always remains with what our customers want, understanding that the characteristic they all share is their passion for the beach lifestyle, and our webcams with a live feed physically represent this.
Now the season is sadly nearly over, our focus is on these new areas, keeping customers shopping at Ann’s Cottage and allowing Cornwall’s USP to be a part of their everyday lives.