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Opening a Shop: Week 3

At the end of month, 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 am signing off marketing materials and thinking about what to stock during the first few weeks.

Week 3: 10 days until doors open

Building work continues apace at 122 High Street, Teddington. I’m enjoying spending most of my time there – despite the noise and dust – and visiting my neighbouring retailers for coffee and lunch (all in the name of market research, of course). This week’s update is all about paper though – from the launch marketing we have planned, to a new staff handbook, to planning and buying stock for opening week.

Clever communicating

As I mentioned last week, we’re using a mix of different media to let the people of Teddington know who we are, what we’re all about and when we’ll be open. Much as I like to think I can try my hand at most things I know there are people who really know their stuff when it comes to marketing communications, so I call on the skills of a few carefully selected professionals for this kind of thing! From our initial kick-off meeting back in February, they have helped me design a campaign that I’m really excited about: including banners for our website, postcards to hand out on the high street, flyers that will be pushed through nearby letterboxes and in-store signage.

All on the same page

My general manager has also been working on a formal staff handbook. Up until now, new starters have been trained by a more experienced member of staff in the shop: this is all well and good, but it means that there is a lack of consistency across our branches, and I want our customers to have the same Gardenia ‘experience’ wherever they interact with us. Teddington will have a new manager and a second new member of staff, so here was a great opportunity to put into place a document that combines all the different best practice processes across our existing shops into a list of standard procedures. I’m hoping that this will enable a new starter in any one of our shops to hit the ground running.

The flowery fun stuff

April is a brilliant time to open a florist’s shop. Our impressive supply chain means that we can get hold of a huge number of varieties year-round, but there’s something about springtime in London that gets us all of a flutter. Our pavement display is our showcase, so for opening day I’m ordering some seasonal favourites like tulips, hyacinths, ranunculas and anemones that will deliver a tempting waft of fragrance and a burst of colour to the grey flagstones. We’ll also have some blossom, roses and maybe even some early peonies. Inside, we’ll be stocking some lovely gift, home and garden ranges including scented soy candles from Willow & Honey and handmade cards from the Little City Paperie and Katie Housley.

This all makes opening day seem very, very close! If I had time to think about it properly, I’d be a bit nervous…

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