Smart moves by atwo-man Mace team A "slicker, smarter operation" in 2001 is the aim of Mace retailers Tom & Gloria Williams based at Hook Norton, Oxfordshire. "In a village store, we have to be service oriented," says Tom. "But it's no good running yourselves ragged and making no money." The couple are reassessing their work, cutting out time-consuming, unprofitable ventures and expanding the more lucrative ones. At the moment, they work long hours across seven days a week and intend to reduce the late "dead" time, which is not always productive, to concentrate on more profitable daytime activities. The emphasis is being placed on flexibility. They see well merchandised bread, cakes and pastries as prime ways to attract more business. The couple started bake off in a small way three years ago, and have just had a new oven installed and two new product stands on loan, free, from Arkady Craigmillar. Products are supplied by the company but topping up the supply is usually done by other companies. Local operator Terry's of Oxford is one of them ­ a supplier which always has new products and offers a frequent delivery service. "We've expanded into hot food and pastries, and now we want more chilled patisserie because there's a demand for it," says Gloria. Although the store also offers rotisserie chickens, they will probably be axed this year because they are not cost effective. Their place is likely to be taken by a takeaway home made food service to take advantage of the fact that there isn't a pub or a takeaway within a five mile radius of the village. "We already have a kitchen where we make take out coffee and we are now looking at quick meal solutions ­ simple food like curries which we will cook ourselves," says Gloria. Another 2001 objective is to sell more flowers. Having switched from cheaper bouquets bought from the market to buying quality flowers from the Dutch auctions via a small operator headed by Dutchman Willem Antwerpen, sales are going from strength to strength. Tom spends between £400-£500 to provide a good show of flowers he says are a "cut above the rest" and these are delivered direct to the store. He describes them as the "new food" providing a wow factor not usually encountered at your usual village store. No bunch is sold for less than a fiver and they can go up to £30. "We turn over more than £1,000 a week on flowers. This Christmas we sold £2,000 in five days." {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}