With Love your High Street’s High Street Hero competition taking place next month, we were keen to revisit some of last year’s winners.
We met up with the fantastic Mark and Jo Chopin from Twit Twoo in Brixham, who chatted to us about their business and all things local. Mark and Jo won the High Street Hero award last year for Brixham and are self-confessed ‘love local advocates’.
Tell us a little bit about you both and your business.
We left teaching in 2012 to start our first business The West Country Deli and then in 2016 felt that the time was right for us to branch out and launch a second business, Twit Twoo.
Tell us a bit about Twit Twoo – What is the business and how are you different from others on Brixham high street?
With Twit Twoo we set out to offer a fun and funky retail alternative to the traditional seaside tourist gift offering that is already well covered in the town. We were well aware that Brixham has approximately 16,000 year-round residents and many of them, like us would tend to travel out of the town to find quality gifts. So, by seeking to offer a fresh approach and an affordable yet innovative and quality range of products, we sought to establish our own market and customer base, appealing to both residents and visitors alike.
How has your business changed since opening?
Over the last two years, Twit Twoo has grown and developed. We talk to customers on a daily basis and this feeds into our understanding of what people like and are looking for. We can’t seek to meet all their requirements or offer everything that they are looking for, but where we find that their requests can be brought comfortably into the Twit Twoo concept, then we strive to do so. We have invested a large amount of time in researching new products and suppliers, including setting time aside to visit major tradeshows. This has been an organic process, bringing together our vision of what Twit Twoo is and what our customers love.
What do you think is the biggest challenge the high street is facing?
High Street retailing is undergoing a period and process of enormous change. With pressures of the rise in internet shopping, out-of-town shopping, stifled wages and slow economic growth, retailing is having to adjust its offering to meet the new needs of communities. Retailers must be aware of this and understand what service or experience they can offer to compete with the clinical ease of online shopping. We focus on making shopping at Twit Twoo an enjoyable sensory experience where customers can handle goods before buying and discover hidden treasures that they did not know they needed. For our local customers it is vital that we become their go-to place for quirky, quality gifts.
When you get a moment where you’re not working, where do you like to shop locally and independently?
As internet shopping is so easy for standard items, the beauty of physical shopping is finding independent innovative traders, for that reason we like to use places like Brixham, Teignmouth and Totnes.
What does local trade mean to your business?
Our local customer base is hugely important to us as we are very much a year round business and therefore Brixham residents form the foundation of our business with the additional footfall of the visitors being the additional (and very welcome) layer on top.
What’s the best thing about Brixham’s high streets?
Having opened two businesses in Brixham, we are very pleased that the town continues to develop and improve, bucking the trend of failing high streets and town centres nationally and locally, with small high quality independent and innovative businesses opening all the time. Of course, businesses come and go, but the process of change allows opportunities for new ventures to open and develop. It is really promising that new business start ups are tending to be of an aspirational and quality nature.
What would you say to other businesses thinking about taking the leap to the high street?
Put a lot of thought into matching the right business to the right building in the right location, these are all critical factors and an effective blend of these is critical to the future success of your business. Don’t con yourself into believing that you can make do with just one or two of them.
Do lots of research into what you want to do, is it something that people want and is it already available? What makes you different and will it make you successful?
Whilst protecting your quality of product, keep a very firm hand on your costs, it is all too easy to work to keep the business rather than to pay yourself. Every penny that you do not have to pay out is a pound that you can reinvest or take as profit.
Know what you want to do and do it to the best of your ability. People appreciate quality.
Make sure you find out more about the High Street Hero award here and keep up to date with Mark and Jo at Twit Twoo via their Facebook page.