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The Beginning of the Bramble Blog

A few months ago we hired a very lovely chap to help us turn our website into a better-functioning online store. This has involved many changes, I won’t go into all of it, but perhaps most difficult for me was the suggestion that I start writing a blog. I don’t read blogs. I used to, back when the concept first popped into internet consciousness and I was keen to be involved with everything “INTERNET” because it was, at that time, still new, still evolving, and I wanted to be relevant… whatever that means.

I quickly found myself bored, however, and stopped. I went back to reading books and newspapers, and that was fine for me.
But the first and hardest rule of retail is that CHANGE is essential not only to survival but growth as well. I won’t lie – I do miss the early days of Bramble House, when we were just a funky little shop on the corner with all sorts of weird and whimsical gifts, and we had a tiny British grocery section in the very back of the shop. As nostalgic as those days are, the truth is we weren’t making any money; we were barely breaking even and still sorting out what worked best for Bramble House. It didn’t take long to realize it was the British food that worked, and expansion was essential if we were to keep going.

We out-grew our cosy little corner store, and moved to our current location. We expanded the British food, expanded in a variety of directions that worked — some failed — and we continue to explore avenues to inspire sales in a somewhat slumping economy. This brings me to blogs.

We recently set up a survey on the website, and the lovely chap who is helping us make our website more effective sent me a report of some early results. A few people complained that my newsletters are sometimes too long. (Let’s insert a long, exhausted sigh here… if this sigh were a word, it might be “alas.”… hold it… I’m still sighing, alas… okay. Now I’m done. )

All of you lovelies who come in to the shop, and who email me, to tell me how much you enjoy the rambly newsletters that I used to send out will notice, thus, that the tone of the newsletters is changed, and will change as I am taught the various methods for making the newsletter a better marketing tool. (Aaaand again, let’s insert a very weary sigh here…)

So, from now on, the newsletter will go out weekly, as always, and it will be more efficient. The chatty-rambly stuff that I enjoy writing, and what many of you enjoy reading, will heretofore be relegated to this blog (nice use of “heretofore, eh?) What I’m going to do is write my own rambly chatty “newsletter” in this blog, which is linked to the emailed newsletter. This way, if you don’t want to be bothered by too many words, you can just read the newsletter. And if you would prefer to read a few more words, you can just click to the blog and there we are. Everyone gets what they want. And frankly, if I don’t have to worry about using the blog as a marketing tool, I am free to just go on about whatever I like, which pleases me. So there we are.

Finally, a useful anecdote about our favourite little fellow, Barney: last night, one of our favourite customers came in with her mum to pick up a few things. She’s absolutely mad for Barney, and he was in his bed in the corner, bundled up in his blankets and sleeping. She went up to his bed and tried to wake him, so she could say hello, and he barked a little unkindly at her, which was upsetting for both. I was there in a flash, nothing came of it, he was fine, she was fine, but it brings me to a bit of advice for all of you : Barney’s little corner is his “space,” if you like, his Safe Place, perhaps. It is not a good idea to just march up to him when he is there because … well… it’s similar to someone walking into your bedroom when you’re in bed and rousting you to tell you how much they like you. “Yeah, yeah, bugger off I’m in bed, here, aren’t I?!”

So, if you please. Respect his little space and we will all be happier for it, I’m sure. The rest of the time he’s more than happy to receive a scratch behind the ears, a little lovey-dovey talk, all that wonderfulness, but if he’s in his little corner, it’s best to leave him alone.

Finally, in the spirit of the good old days, I am linking a video I shot in the store many years ago, back when we were odd and whimsical, and not very busy. I was alone at the shop on a holiday Monday and had been there, without a single customer, for several hours. Out of sheer boredom, I filmed a video. This is it: Enjoy. (I have shared this on Facebook, but for those of you who didn’t see it, or who would like to see me dancing again, here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbVSKPoidY8)

Next Week: A little bit about Best Before Dates, Freshness, and Specialty Food!

Oh boy!!! How much fun is this?? LOADS!!

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