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Opening a Shop: Week 2

At the end of April, local florist Gardenia of London will open its fourth branch on Teddington High Street.

In a series of weekly posts, I will take you through the nuts and bolts of opening a new shop - from the initial concept right through to launch. This week, I got the keys and the fit-out began in earnest.

Week 2: 17 days until doors open

An exciting few days! After weeks of paperwork we finally got our hands on the keys to 122 High Street, Teddington. Barely pausing for a cuppa, our builders got stuck in to tearing down all the old fixtures and fittings to make way for our new interior.

A blank canvas

We’ve been thinking about the look and feel of Gardenia Teddington ever since we got the nod from the estate agent that our application had been successful. In our other shops, we made use of the fittings that were already in situ; but for Teddington I wanted to start from scratch. One of my florists, Ellie, has a natural instinct for design, so I tasked her with creating a ‘mood board’ to bring our ideas together. The finalised plan is under wraps for now, but my overarching aim was to create a welcoming, engaging space full of light; a neutral canvas with our flowers as the stars of the show.  

Making use of the space

When emptied of its previous owner’s stock, the shop is even bigger than I remembered. We have agonised over the size and placement of key fixtures like the counter, till and waste areas, using the pain points of our other shops to create a layout that not only makes our florists’ lives easier but entices customers off the street and right into the back of the store. It’s a great opportunity to design the ‘perfect’ environment for our business. Here’s hoping we’ve got it right!

Remaining flexible

I felt like all my Christmases had come at once when the builders removed a stud wall and uncovered original, floor-to-ceiling sash windows that will look out onto our courtyard garden. There’s also a fireplace that we’ll be able to make use of, so these two unexpected treasures have meant that we have switched around a couple of merchandising ‘zones’ on our original plan.

Behind the scenes

Whilst all of this fun stuff is happening in the shop itself, my management and marketing teams are busy behind the scenes pulling together our launch campaign. We’re using a mixture of online marketing, leafletting, social media, PR and face-to-face networking to raise awareness in the local area and with our existing customers. All of this takes time; we’re currently working to a six-week communications plan that involves a complicated spreadsheet and strict deadlines. Most importantly though, I need to decide what to wear to our launch party…

I’m looking forward to spending more time on Teddington High Street and getting to know the neighbours over the coming few days. I’ll report back next week and let you know how I’m getting on.

Jamie Grant is the owner and creative director of Gardenia of London