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Nayan Amin’s selection of cut flowers positioned at the front of the store demands attention from anyone walking past.
Location: Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Staff: Five part-time
Hours: 7am-11pm, Mon-Sun
Size: 1,400sq ft.
Trading since: June 2008
Style: Located near a residential area on a main road, a five-minute walk from the high street. Nayan’s nearby competition includes a Premier convenience store next door and a Londis Texaco garage.
“We make more than a £1,000 a week on flowers in the summer,” he says. As he says this, a customer overhears and taps him on the arm saying: “Nayan, your flowers are honestly so much better than the supermarkets.” He grins and jokes about paying her to say that. But you can’t put a price on that kind of customer loyalty.
After running a successful store in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, which won a Best-one retailer of the year award, Nayan set up Best-one Dunstable with his wife in 2008. The store came second in Best-one’s awards in 2013.
“I’d always wanted to go into retail,” he says. “My cousins had stores and when I was in my teens I used to work there, cleaning the shop, and I got the bug for the business.”
He started his first store at the age of 25, funding the whole thing independently. “I wanted to do my own thing and when you have that in your head you can’t stop. I wanted to build something up,” he adds.
Nayan puts his customers’ needs at the heart of every decision. “In summer we stock suntan lotion and put in hotdog and slush machines,” he explains. “We also sell tennis rackets and footballs. Not too many as the display can get messy but we bring in a few for the community.”
He also has a contract with parcel collection service myHermes so customers can have their parcels delivered to his store to pick up later and send them off from there too. “I make 50p a parcel and I deal with about 100 parcels a day,” he says.
Keep the store tidy: Unfazed by last month’s tobacco gantry changes, Nayan says his main worry isn’t losing sales, it’s ensuring that his staff keep the gantry tidy, even when the doors close.
Source locally: “Every Friday I drive to Tring for flowers from a fella who has been selling them for 56 years. I pick the best ones and fill the whole van,” he says. He also sells local sausages and eggs.
Retail responsibly: “The most important thing I’ve learnt is to look at the shop like a customer. Whatever I’m doing, whether it’s price or display I’m thinking what it does for the customer,” he says.
Mainly for his elderly customers, Nayan runs a free delivery service on orders over £25, not including alcohol and cigarettes. “We take orders by phone but we want to start taking them online and syncing the order with our phones,” he says.
The store is situated on a main road so it attracts a range of customers, but Nayan makes sure everyone gets the same level of customer service.
“We treat everyone the same and we don’t act funny with children. If a kid walks into the alcohol section we will stop them though. That section is separated off so kids can’t really get lost. You have to be responsible,” he says.
Retailing responsibly is deeply important to him. He refuses to ever loss lead or heavily reduce alcohol prices and is cautious in his e-cig promotions, knowing that this duty is the cornerstone of retailing.
His responsible ethos even stretches to his flowers. “You can’t have cut flowers today and then not tomorrow, we’ll have flowers all year long even if it’s rainy or windy. The weather was so bad the other day we had to pin them down, it keeps things fun,” he says.
He says one thing that has created a horrible expectation for the industry is minimum spends or card charges. “Customers come into my store and they’re already angry because they expect it. We absorb the charges because the whole point of a convenience store is to serve quick and friendly,” says Nayan.
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