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Four flourishing firms

CHRISTMAS may be just a memory but the celebrations continue for Bay businesses with birthdays next month. The Activity Box and Berry’s Eatery will have both been in the town for three years, while A Bundle of Books and Pretty Green Vintage are marking the end of their first year in business. Liz Crudgington found out the secrets of successful trading, and some top tips for any future entrepreneurs….

Berry’s Eatery

a THREE years ago, Gillian Berry and her daughter Vanessa decided to expand their cake-baking hobby and open a shop of their own. After starting with a stall at a farmers’ market, the pair opened Berry’s Cakeaway in William Street in February 2011. But the business has since grown and transformed, and moved to a new base on the seafront in July 2012 with a new name, Berry’s Eatery. Gillian said:

“It just ran away with me. I was only ever going to do teas and coffees and cakes but now we are a restaurant, with breakfast, lunch and dinner services. It’s been hard work. I expected that, but it has been more time-consuming than I thought. I had run pubs before so I had some idea but I don’t think it gets easier, you just get more used to it.”

Gillian now has five members of staff, and said one of the most important things was to stick ft out and move with the times. She added:

“It is like a whirlwind, one moment it is Tuesday, then it’s Sunday again, but you have to make time for things like Facebook and advertising. Word-of-mouth recommendations are key and you have to rise Facebook whether you like it or not because it’s free, and most people are on there. I’d also tell people to make sure they do their research. You can’t just think your idea would work, you have to go to the town and really look at what is there.

  • Berry’s Eatery is opposite the pier. Call 01227 364242 or see www.berryseatery.co.uk

The Activity Box

bIT IS also all change for craft studio The Activity Box, which will mark its third birthday in a new shop. The business started in Mortimer Street as a pottery-painting studio but has expanded to include other crafts such as fabric painting and decopatch. Next month, business partners Abi Calder and Barb Johnson will move to the former Herne Bay Stationers shop in William Street, and plan to open in time for the birthday on February 22. Abi said:

“My plan when I opened was to eventually involve more crafts and that is what we have achieved. It has been as hard as I thought, but equally as enjoyable. I still wake up with ideas and Barb is the same.”

Barb joined the business in April last year and the pair have no staff, but family members help out at busy times. Abi said:

“I didn’t think about the future when I first opened. I just thought it was a good idea because there is nothing like this in the town. For me, if you are thinking about doing something, don’t think ‘what it I fail?’ To me, you have failed if you don’t follow your dream and aspiration. We have had some great help and advice from other businesses, our landlord David Cain has been very supportive, especially with our move, and I think the BayPromoTeam are fantastic at letting people know what is going on around Herne Bay. There is a real buzz in the town now and I think that’s got a lot to do with them.”

  • The Activity Box is in Mortimer Street. Call 01227 365240 or visit theactivitybox.co.uk

Pretty Green Vintage

c THERE will be birthday cake and celebratory drinks as Pretty Green Vintage in North Street marks its first year in Herne Bay on February 8. Owner Kim Sully is also holding a raffle to win a meal for two with wine at A Casa Mia in the High Street, with a free ticket with every sale of £10 or over. And there will be giveaways with purchases and a continuing secret sale as she thanks the town for its support. Kim said:

“Overall, it has been a good year. Of course there were hard bits, such as when we were caught out by a rogue electrician, but we have really been welcomed by the other businesses. Linda at Maison Classique is like some sort of vintage fairy godmother and is very supportive, and Nigel Hancock of the Independent Retail Group is a godsend.”

The business has adapted to meet the needs of the town and Kim has adjusted the stock as she discovers what sells. And plans for the future include expanding the shop into a garage next door, and more buying trips to France. Kim added:

“Christmas was really good and a few times we have turned up to find people have been waiting outside. That was a fantastic feeling, as was when we delivered a chest of drawers to a customer who had several other pieces. Seeing them in situ made all the hard work worthwhile.”

  • Pretty Green Vintage is in North Street. Call 01227 744500 or visit www.prettygreenvintage.com

A Bundle of Books

dBIRTHDAY parties need entertainment, so Milo the magician will be at A Bundle of Books as owner Andrea White and manager Ellie Addenbrooke celebrate their first anniversary. The pair are planning a day of fun on February 15 including free balloons, a lucky dip, a raffle and cake as well as a visit from children’s characters Pip and Posy, created by Axi Scheffler. There will also be activities during half term as the pair celebrate a successful first year. Ellie said:

“The high point has been welcoming all our authors, especially Sally Nicholls who came from Oxford to read from her fifth published book. A big positive has been meeting all the children, especially through our storytelling in schools. We have also loved the goodwill from people and businesses, plus the BayPromoTeam, and we really appreciate the support from our customers. It would be cheaper for some of them to buy something from Amazon so when they choose to use us instead it is a wonderful feeling.”

Over the year, the pair have launched toddler groups, book groups for adults and children and now do birthday parties. Andrea added:

“We have had moments where we have sat here and wondered if we are doing what people want but when people are in Herne Bay we are busy, so I think it is working.”

A Bundle of Books is in Bank Street. Call 01227 373802 or visit www.abundleofbooks.com

Herne Bay Times, January 16th 2014

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