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Local focus shows the way to a profit

I’m feeling quite confident for the season ahead. Like every other retailer, our Free Love store in Guernsey has had slightly slower periods – notably around February and March – but things are picking up and we have just had our best week ever.

Why? Well, the main reason for the boost was a local fashion show that we took part in to support breast cancer charity Pink Ladies. We were approached by the charity to get involved and we certainly did. I selected the models and dressed them according to their colouring with our most theatrical pieces. We managed to get the local TV station on board and that really helped to generate the publicity.

But maybe the fashion show was not the only reason why sales have been given a fillip. Recently, we have had a mini backlash against the high street stores. This is a new phenomenon for us because high street stores had not, on the whole, invaded Guernsey. Up until recently there had been none of the multiples in Guernsey, but they have started to creep in.

That initially makes competition much harder, but in a community where the local aspect is really important – Guernsey is a small island with a population of just 60,000 – then a lot of women do not want to wear the same dress as 30 other women. And when the population is relatively small and there is a limited number of retailers, it can be difficult for a woman to find a unique product.

For that reason we buy just one size of each piece that we stock. It makes for a lot of hard work in the buying season, but it seems to be paying off.

Katie Free is co-owner of womenswear boutique Free Love in Guernsey

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