Andrew Thompson opened Lossiemouth based The Pantry earlier this year. Specialising in local fruit and veg produce, The Pantry also sells a range of groceries including chutney and eggs. Now, Andrew shares with us the story behind his business.
Why choose to go into business for yourself and when did you start your current business? I had worked for different people over the years and I just felt the time was right to do something for myself. Although there is a butcher and bakery in the town, there was no fruit and veg shop and once I realised it wasn’t just me that missed this, I knew I could fill the gap in the market. I wanted the shop to also sell Moray based food such as chutneys, jams and dairy produce. The desire to be my own boss kept growing and at the beginning of this year I opened The Pantry.
Why did you choose your current business? I’ve worked in retail for many years, in a department store for 17 and then in a local bakery. I moved to Moray as I felt it was a beautiful part of the world and I feel very passionately about using local produce and helping to keep Lossiemouth a desirable place to live and visit, with plenty going on. I wanted to combine my retail experience with what people needed and The Pantry ticked all the boxes.
Who has helped you get started and develop your business? I went along to the local Business Gateway office and met with Lorna Williamson who became my adviser. Lorna was extremely helpful from the very beginning and I’m still in contact with her now for additional support as an existing business. Lorna helped me understand all the details of setting up a business and gave me advice on things I may have otherwise overlooked. I also had a lot of help from my friend Angus especially when it came to painting the shop.
What achievement are you most proud of? Opening The Pantry and starting to build regular customers. It’s great when you see people coming back for more as it proves you’re on the right track.
What was your biggest mistake? Thankfully, there hasn’t been a big mistake. Long may that continue.
What is the biggest challenge facing your business? At the moment getting our name known in the area. As well as setting up and running the shop, I also have to market the business and this can be time consuming especially when a business is in its infancy. So while I’ve done some leaflet drops, what has really helped me has been social media and my Facebook page. This has grown organically which is great.
What would help your business? People shopping with local, independent businesses more. I know people get into a routine or habit of going to the bigger supermarkets but we offer fantastic, fresh, Scottish produce and our delivery service means people don’t need to travel to us. By supporting us and the local butcher and baker in Lossiemouth, we’re all helping to keep the town alive.
What do you still want to achieve for your business? At the moment my main aim is to steadily build the business and our customer base. However, I have lots of ideas for Christmas promotions so I want to have a busy festive period and then build on that going into 2018. Our made-to-order hampers and gifts are available throughout the year but we expect our sales of these to rise over the next few months.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business in Moray? Definitely speak to Business Gateway in Moray. There is so much help and advice on offer and every question you have will be answered. If not instantly, then your adviser will seek out the answer. Each time I left a meeting I felt more and more encouraged that I could make the business a success.
Find out how Business Gateway Moray can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01343 508 838.
Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.
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