First, he stocks the clothes they want to buy. “The mature customer wants quality,” says Wilkie, “but not necessarily cutting edge fashion.” Wilkies stocks concession brands like Barbour, Ann Harvey and Jane Shilton – simple, classy; not a gold hoop earring or diamante boob tube in sight. Then there’s location, location, location. Wilkie has eight stores dotted around the Scottish central belt. “We choose sites away from busy city areas. Our customers prefer to get away from the bustle and shop in suburban locations.” It’s not an exact art: “We’ve opened a few and closed a few over the years. I’ve found the perfect areas by learning from my mistakes.” And don’t forget the marketing. “Our customers hate email,” says Wilkie. “They like old-fashioned post.” Wilkie obliges by sending regular newsletters, signed Mr Wilkie. “They love that,” he says. After a mailshot, Wilkies sees a 12 to 15 per cent increase in footfall and spending in stores, and turnover last year hit £6m. Snail mail has it’s disadvantages, however. “During the postal strike, invitations to an in-store event were lost and nobody turned up,” says Wilkie. “I’d love my customers to get into email, but they don’t want newfangled stuff. That’s why it would be pointless having an online shop.” There’s also another downside to this particular demographic. “All our customers have bus passes and love to use them,” says Wilkie. “They’ll visit several different stores, not just one.” But, when there was a spate of bad weather over Christmas and January, sales dropped. “The snow hampered us,” says Wilkie. “None of our customers wanted to venture out.”
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