IT has been an incredible year for Mandi Duncan.
Employed as the Saturday girl at Barassie Day-Today for 17 years, Mandi got the chance to purchase the store herself last year – and leapt at it.
The following months saw her transform the business, carrying out a partial refit, carefully reviewing her range, engaging with the local community and massively boosting her turnover.
By the end of 2016 she was in the running for Confectionery Retailer of the Year at the Scottish Grocer Awards. And in March, just weeks before her one-year anniversary as store owner… she won!
“We honestly couldn’t believe it, we were very surprised,” said Mandi, thinking back to the night of the awards. “We thought we were there just to make up the numbers. And then we won! I think we actually screamed when they announced the winner. It’s all a bit of a blur, but it was such a great atmosphere.”
Looking around Barassie Day-Today, it’s not difficult to see why judges were so impressed with the store.
The main fixture is three metres long with a full core range, featuring double facings for most top sellers according to market research and EPOS data from store sales.
There is also a bay for kids confectionery, recognising the large number of children who live locally.
A category in great growth is bagged confectionery and Mandi has set out to capitalise on this, setting out three separate hanging bag sections, including one solely for One Pounders.
But there is hardly a square metre in the store where sweets can’t be found, with clip strips and parasite units dotted all over the shop.
“We rotate which bags go where every couple of weeks, just to keep things interesting,” said Mandi. “If you have the same stuff all the time people start to miss it. We keep things moving so they catch the eye. Sweets are great for that.”
New products and promotion stands are placed near the ATM, the counter or the soft drinks chiller for extra impulse sales.
Mandi also uses seasonal gimmicks to create additional sales. In fact, if there’s one area where Barassie Day-Today really shines, it’s seasonal activity, with the store undergoing sudden and dramatic transformations that help to boost sales of seasonal lines.
“What you can do in a space like ours is probably quite limited,” said Mandi.
“When you see other shops that are so open, with the lovely stands at the front door, it makes you quite jealous. It’s just not possible in here, but we do what we can.
“So for Valentine’s Day we had a lovely balloon arch, which I made myself. We all got dressed up for Halloween, for the full weekend. It was a Monday, so we decided to be in costume Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Everybody’s warned, when they come to work here, that they’ll be expected to dress up.
“For Valentine’s Day we got dressed up as French people, with onions and berets, and hoped to God that the French girl who lives down the road didn’t take offence.
“At Wimbledon we covered the ceiling with massive tennis balls and when the Golf Open was on we hung golf clubs and put grass with a wee putter hole outside. So if kids could putt a hole-in-one they got a sweetie. It was dead easy. And the whole time we were dressed as golfers. It’s been an action-packed year.”
Mandi marked her anniversary last month with a party for her customers, including face-painting, games and free treats for the children – including chocolate, naturally.
And customers have been eager to congratulate her on the store’s award win, which they feel is richly deserved.
“The kids that come into the shop especially love it,” Mandi said.
“They love knowing they’re coming into the best sweetie shop in Scotland – officially!”