Julie Martin-Davy had gained several years’ experience in retail while her husband was serving in the Army, which came in handy when setting up her own business.
While they moved around the UK with the Army, Julie started as a part time Christmas temp in a store, quickly moving up the ladder to eventually become an Assistant Manager. After her husband Mark left the army and the couple settled back into life in their hometown of Fife both saw it as the opportunity for a fresh start. That start was Present Purrfections.
The business specialises mostly in gifts for cat and dog lovers. Julie tries to source locally produced items and always from small businesses. This means the business offer things that no other shop on the high street can. Julie used her £9,000 loan she received from Start Up Loans to buy stock, as well as fixtures and fittings for a physical store.
In her first year Julie learnt a lot about how to market Present Purrfections. She advertises on Facebook and Twitter and use Google Ads to promote her website, which gives her complete control over everything that is being advertised and how often. Whenever she has something newsworthy she tells the local papers to try and secure local press mentions. Occasionally for any special offers the store has coming up she also places an advert.
The area where the original Present Purrfections store was located has been a target of regeneration, with lots of independent businesses on the high street. However, in October 2016 Julie closed the shop to concentrate 100% to the online shop which was doing much better than the physical store. Sadly Julie had to make the decision because although the area the shop was located in, on Kirkcaldy high street, was regenerating, it was doing so too slowly for her and Mark to manage financially. In fact several other small independents closed or relocated in the couple of months around when Julie closed the shop.
It isn’t all doom and gloom however! Julie is in the middle of redesigning thePresent Purrfections website and online store to be more user friendly and ‘shoppable.’ She has also added a blog about the goings on at Present Purrfections and has implemented a new marketing plan in conjunction with the new website so that she has regular posts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. In some ways she is more positive about how the business is performing now, proving that a retail business does not always have to have a physical presence to thrive.