David Woodrow, owner of Woodrow’s Newsagents Licensed Grocer in Glasgow, is proving that traditional retailing can still reap rewards in an evolving market.
The store, based in Bishopton, has passed through three family generations – albeit with a few changes along the way.
“I’m a rare beast,” claims David. “The shop used to exist just up the road, right next to the train station, and where we are now was just bricks and mortar. This came on the market in the mid-’80s and we have been located here ever since.”
David quickly made the decision to install a post office. “At the same time, I took the opportunity to refurbish the rest of the shop,” he says. “I repainted it and added some LED lighting.”
Throughout his retailing career, news selling has always motivated David, but today’s market is putting this under threat.
“From a newsagent’s point of view, I’m not getting a huge increase in sales like I used to,” explains David. “The same can be said for magazines, too – the impulse ones seem to be dying away.”
David blames the fall in sales on growing digital trends. “There are more than 4,000 new houses being built down the road,” he explains. “But I’m not hopeful that I’ll pick up any new subscriptions, because the houses will be equipped with everything needed to get news online.”
However, David remains confident that his sub-retailing offering will help him stay ahead. “We have held our own, despite the challenges,” he explains.
“We’ve always done sub-retailing – it could be classed as a footfall driver for us. We provide newspapers to a car garage, a garden centre and a hospital.”
As well as this, David has up to 400 home news delivery customers. “I feel like this is substantial enough – in today’s market, it’s important for retailers to look for quick wins.”
With this in mind, David is optimistic about the opportunities a new shopping centre could bring to his business.
“There’s a new shopping centre being built just outside of the village,” he says. “Some see it as a negative in terms of taking away business, but I think it’s a positive.
“To get to it, people will have to drive through the village, so there will be new passing trade. If people realise you provide a good service, they’ll keep coming back.”
It’s by staying true to his expertise that David has remained successful despite changing customer behaviours.
“We’ve offered food to go since we started out,” he explains. “There is a limit to how much we can do, but we stick to selling our basic range, which includes local farm sausages and bacon in a roll, as well as soup in the winter.”
David values his relationships with his customers and suppliers as being vital to the running of his store.
“Loyalty is really important to me,” he explains. “I’m especially loyal to suppliers. It’s important to build up a strong relationship.”
“The same mantra filters down to my customers,” he adds. “If a magazine isn’t available, we try our best to get it stocked. I will always be passionate about the availability of newspapers.”
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