Adam Dipoti boasts that he has a larger newspaper and magazine selection than WH Smith in his Todmorden store.
- Location: Todmorden, West Yorkshire
- Trading since: 2000
- Staff: Four part-time
- Size: 750sq ft
- Hours: 5am – 6pm, Monday to Sunday
- Style: Unaffiliated newsagent in the centre of a market town. A One Stop four doors away, but he attracts passing trade from the busy market.
From looking at the long, well-lit display of an incredible range of print titles from women’s glossies, through niche knitting magazines, and on to the latest independent trend title – his claim really isn’t surprising. Over the five years of running the store he has slowly introduced more titles to accommodate the desires of his customers and will stock a new title if they’ve asked for it.
“Since taking over the store the magazine range has trebled, mainly because of customer requests,” he says.
“If I get asked for a certain magazine, it doesn’t matter how specific, I’ll get the customers details and stock it for them and they keep coming back after that.”
He took over the store five years ago and refurbished it to give it a brighter, more welcoming feel, and has seen an increase of £4,500 turnover per week.
To make sure his customers didn’t think he had closed down, he erected a portable cabin to sell the magazines and to let his regulars know what was going on. “We had it set up for two weeks at the back of the store to keep things ticking over,” he adds.
In the picturesque market town of Todmorden there’s plenty of rivalry between retailers – three newsagents; four new petrol stations and a One Stop all fight for customers.
- Don’t be nervous about industry threats: “Chocolate is being demonised and for most CTNs that is a lot of our turnover, but we have to keep a cool head. If someone wants chocolate they’re going to have it, it’s a treat and our customers should be trusted more,” Adam says.
- Know your niche: Whether it’s pens for the academic population or a knitting magazine request, the key is to respond to your customer’s needs and they will come back.
- Keep it simple: Adam has his newspapers near the door and his magazines in a brightly-lit aisle. He also has a clearly labelled ‘pound zone’ to help customers navigate around his store.
Despite this competition Adam has set his store out as the place to go to for magazines and as the only one in the town to provide a newspaper delivery service. In a nine-mile radius, he is 518 customers strong – a figure that’s rising, bucking the mainstream trend of newspaper sales decline.
Aside from newspapers, he stocks a variety of cards with the whole back corner dedicated to them, and he has a shelving unit for pens to cater for the town’s academic residents.
“I never knew there were so many types of pens. I used to only stock blue or black but when I got asked if we had a certain type I knew I had to expand the range,” he explains.
“You see, Todmorden is quite an intellectual town with lots of graduates, writers and lawyers, so they are all really fussy about what they write with. I’ve just accommodated for that – there isn’t a WHSmith or stationery shop for 14 miles, not until Manchester.”
Despite his vast confectionery range, Adam recognises that his customers don’t necessarily want a chocolate bar for breakfast on a relaxing Sunday morning.
To keep his customers happy he has dedicated a space for all of their vital needs: milk, bread, eggs and soup.
“Customers have always been incredibly loyal, but they would go and buy their milk from the One Stop a few metres away and their paper from us. But I wanted to stop that and it has made a huge difference. I’m seeing less One Stop bags now.”
Sunday newspapers remain his biggest challenge and he understands that not everyone will want to pay £2 or £3 just for one edition.
“Newspapers aren’t like chocolate: chocolate you can put under someone’s nose or focus on one product this week but you can’t stock all of the newspapers at the till,” he says.
“They aren’t an impulse purchase.”
So how does he overcome this challenge? His method is to keep them by the door, in an eye-catching location and neatly presented. “I can show them off but I just hope the customer sees a good story they might be interested in,” he adds.