Andrew Davidson is still ringing the changes as he settles into his new store in the leafy residential town of Comber, seven miles outside Belfast.
The replacement fridges and new dairy cabinet he was considering in January have now been installed and he has replaced the chest freezer he took over with the shop with a stand-up freezer.
The smaller footprint of the new freezer, together with a general rearrangement of the shop have opened up the space and made it look much bigger. “I’ve had lots of positive feedback from customers about the improved layout,” he says.
One decision he has deferred, however, is the installation of an ATM. While he says the income is attractive, he is not happy about the security implications of so much cash on the premises.
The next change is likely to
be an instore bakery, he predicts, and he is also thinking about having a container installed as a store room.
He has also worked to make the store more inviting at night - it stays open until 10pm every day - installing new lighting and moving on a gang of youths who used to hang around
outside putting off some customers. Another exterior improvement was getting the paving stones outside the store steam cleaned. “I had a lot of good feedback about how much better it looked,” he says. “It was £40 well spent.”
Andrew is always looking for new products to try out and recently he extended his petfood range with dog treats and found they sold very well.
Also proving popular is a stationery rack, introduced to cater for the needs of the pupils of the two neighbouring schools. Fresh produce such as lettuce and tomatoes and ready meals in his new chillers are also proving popular, he reports.
He is also considering promotions. He says: “People appreciate value for money.”
One benefit of the new shop is the prospect of taking family holidays. “With my old shop if I ever wanted to take a holiday I needed to find a member of the family to look after it and we could never go for longer than a week. But now I have a girl who has worked in the shop for 10 years and she can run it while I’m away, so I’ll be able to take a two-week holiday for the first time in five years,” he says.