Barry’s Menswear in Castlederg have met the challenge posed by the growth of online retail head on by upping their social media presence and they are now encouraging other local small businesses to consider tapping into its potential.
Derry and Strabane Enterprise Week 2018 in early March will host social media workshops entitled ‘Focus on how to be social, not how to do social’ in the Diamond Centre in Claudy and the Derg Valley Healthy Living Centre in Castlederg.
Owner Barry Williamson has over 25 years retail experience in the town having previously worked in his parents’ family business ‘Class 24’ before setting up his own shop in 2004.
He has built up a strong and loyal customer base in that time but the emergence of more multinational retailers in the wider area combined with the boom in online trade has presented a unique set of challenges.
“The growth of online shopping has been affected all retailers and particularly in a small town so you can’t sit still,” he explains.
“People get so much of their information through their phones now so it’s important for us to reach them that way.
“We got onto Facebook fairly early when it became popular and we saw a positive response from using it almost immediately.
“We grew our following by running some competitions where people could win vouchers if they liked and shared the page and it just grew from there.
“We got a small grant from Council that we used to boost posts and specifically target our demographic so the right people see what we are posting.
“It’s a great way to communicate with your customers and you can judge by the reaction to posts what products they are interested in and have the potential to be good sellers.
“We could see the reaction in store that customers were coming in and mentioning the offers they saw on Facebook.
“We don’t bombard people with content, it’s important that you keep it relevant or you will lose your following.
“People are interested in offers and new products and if the post gets their attention they will react to it and share it.
“I couldn’t recommend it enough to local businesses in the area, it’s relatively cheap and for me it’s the only form of advertising that I’ve used that has tangible results.”
Barry’s quarter of a century serving the public in Castlederg means there are very few men in the town who haven’t been kitted out by him at least once.
The loyalty of his customers and the personal service he offers have maintained the store’s longevity despite the changing climate they are operating in.
“Baskins were located in this unit before me, they were a well-known draper and were looking to sell up and my parents were looking to retire so the time was right to go out on my own,” he recalls.
“I already had the supplier and customer contacts from working with my parents and experience in all the other aspects of the store like fixtures and fittings and the financial side of things so I was confident I could make it work.
“The nature of the area is that we don’t get a lot of outside trade, Castlederg is a small town but we’ve been able to make the business work by meeting the needs of our loyal customers.
“Despite the convenience of online shopping, we see there is still a demand for a personal face to face service and particularly with suits, people want to try an item on before committing to it.”
‘Focus on how to be social, not how to do social’ workshops will be delivered by Full Circle Consultancy in the Diamond Centre in Claudy from 9.30am – 12pm on Tuesday March 5th and the Derg Valley Care and Healthy Living Centre in Castlederg from 2pm – 5pm on Thursday March 7th.
Attendees will receive an overview of social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin and learn more about the importance and focus for each including when to post, what to post and how to advertise.
Admission is free but pre-registration is essential, to secure your place book your Eventbride ticket at www.derrystrabane.com/enterpriseweek.
Derry-Strabane Enterprise Week 2019 runs from March 4th – 8th with a week long programme of events to guide you through all stages of your business journey.
The programme aims to offer mentoring and networking opportunities as well as highlighting the services and support available to local SME's and start-ups through a number of events including Digital Masterclasses, Pitch Training sessions, Export and Information sessions and the judging process for the £10k Start Up Business Challenge.
The ‘Be The Boss’ Entrepreneur Event at the Omniplex Cinema is an action packed session of Enterprise Support aimed at anyone with a business idea who wants to become self employed or those already in business seeking inspiration on how to drive their business further.
Through a combination of action planning, one to one support provided by experienced business advisers, a series of masterclasses and other activities, you’ll be able to develop the skills you need to confidently set up and run your own new business.
The full schedule can be viewed at www.derrystrabane.com/enterpriseweek.