Close
 

“Being part of the community is the best advertising you can do” - lessons from Carvin Streetwear's owner

  • News
  • February 23, 2016
  • Elly Strang
“Being part of the community is the best advertising you can do” - lessons from Carvin Streetwear's owner

Around 12,000 people live in the South Island town of Gore, which is nestled at the bottom of the South Island.

Though it’s small, the town's shops pack a large punch and among them is Carvin Streetwear, a store that prides itself on its excellent customer service.

Carvin doesn’t just talk the talk, either – the shop has won numerous accolades at Retail NZ’s Top Shop Awards, including the Single Store Omnichannel Award and the Lower South Island Overall Regional Award. It also was the runner up to the overall Supreme Award.

Here are some of the key lessons from owner Chanelle Purser’s shop.kiwi talk.

Pay attention to who you hire



Purser is both a dairy farmer and a retailer. She notes the contrast between having three retail staff versus 750 livestock.

In such a small business, huge importance is placed on who’s on the team.

Purser says her interview methods are “quirky” as she hires on personality, rather than experience.

“It’s important, especially in a smaller business, that staff are there for each other and get on well. You can’t train the jerk away,” she says.

“I hire off personality. Obviously they have to have a few skills – reading, writing - but you can teach anyone skills. It’s the personality you can’t change. People are who they are.”

She also asks candidates whether they are the baby or the eldest in their family.

“You never want too many eldest – the dynamics do not work.”

Once people are on board as a member of her team, it’s incredibly important to forge a connection with them, she says.

This is because good relationships with staff means good relationships with customers.

“Do you know your staff? A lot of people don’t even know what they do out of work. Get to know their interests, their family, what makes them tick. It creates a better workplace and creates ambience in store.”

Purser says it’s also important to let staff take ownership of their jobs.

Carvin’s employees are trained by her and put through Service IQ, and she says they relish the challenge.

Clearly it’s working, as store manager Jess Pulham won the National Retail Professional Award at the 2015 Top Shop Awards.

Not every store needs an ecommerce arm

But with all the success, there have been failures, too.

When ecommerce began taking off, Purser decided Carvin should start doing online sales.

She hired more staff, bought expensive camera equipment and even leased extra floor space for the venture.

The first 18 months were great, she said, as they had a bit of the market share. Then the competitors came in with even bigger marketing budgets and Carvin couldn’t compete.

By the end of 2013, sales were declining quickly, so she put an end to it.

Lesson learnt? Not every store needs an ecommerce aspect to their business.

“Asos and Boohoo do it well, I’m going to leave them to it,” Purser says.

Carvin still maintains a digital presence through its website and is very active on social media.

Be careful with what products you stock

Purser spoke of a time when a brand Carvin stocked dropped its prices, and the quality of its product also dropped.

All of a sudden, four out of every 10 items were being returned by customers.

“That didn’t look bad on the company - the brand - it looked bad on our store,” she says.

Consumers don’t think so much about what the label says, she says, so be aware the quality of the products reflect on the store.

Ask questions, don’t make assumptions

Another key piece of wisdom Purser shared is to ensure staff never stereotype customers, as it’s detrimental to business.

If a Gore granny wants to wear a Billabong sarong, then why not, she says.

She spoke of when she and her husband were shopping in a department store in Auckland while up for the conference.

“We were looking like tourists in shorts, t-shirts and jandals, a little bit scruffy, and we were in a certain department store and no one gave us service. He was looking at an $1800 sports jacket and was really quite keen to buy it, and nobody came to give us any service so we left. We went into an unassuming little store, we were acknowledged and he ended up spending almost twice that amount.”

Get involved in the local community

Back in Gore, knowing people’s business is good business, she says.

“We know who’s getting married, who’s going to the fashion awards, and we make sure no one's going to be wearing the same thing.”

This feeds into being a part of the community, which Purser says is the best advertising she can do.

Carvin gets involved with different community events, whether it is providing a prize for a local quiz night or staff volunteering their time to support a cause.

The business is also heavily involved in Go Retail, a collaborative initiative in Gore by First Retail, the Council and local businesses to revive the town centre and encourage more business.

“Rural towns are getting smaller and dying, were seeing it happen and social impact can be huge – no towns mean communities do break down,” Purser says.

“It’s about getting rural places excited about shopping again.”

Start thinking about responsibilities

Purser touched on retail’s impact on the environment, saying she feels like retailers are a wee bit behind the eight ball when compared to other industries.

Ways retailers could begin thinking about this issue are encouraging customers to bring in their own bags, swapping plastic for paper, or encouraging suppliers to stop using as much packaging, she says.

Future predictions

As for where retail is heading, Purser says customers will always want great service, regardless of it being face to face or through a screen.

“Service will be king. That’s the future of retail,” she says.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

The $200 million-plus direct sales economy contains many lessons retailers can use. As part of a wider look at this thriving corner of retail, we created a quick explainer showing how this business model typically works.

Read more
 
 

Direct sales: Meet the upliners

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the upliners

We profiled different participants in the direct sales industry to find out what retailers can learn from them. Meet Isagenix distributors Adam Nesbitt and Bianca Bathurst.

Read more
 
 

Direct sales: Meet the business builder

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the business builder

As part of a wider story looking at what retailers can learn from the direct sales industry, we profiled Isagenix distributor Ben Frost.

Read more
 

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
topics
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 
News

Leveling up: Exploring multi-level marketing in New Zealand

Is the $200 million-plus direct sales economy retail by another name or something different? Regardless, what can we learn from it?

 
 

A spectrum of retailers

  • Opinion
  • April 18, 2019
  • David Farrell
A spectrum of retailers

In recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month, retail commentator Dave Farrell considers the role of those on the spectrum in retail.

Read more
 

How on-trend is your retail business?

  • Sponsored Content
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sponsored content
How on-trend is your retail business?

New insights from Visa highlight five evolving trends emerging from savvy retailers around the world. We’ve taken these global trends and looked at how they are playing out with merchants in New Zealand, and we’d now like to hear what you think of them.

Read more
 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}