Small Business Saturday Blog

Life in the fast Laine

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 15:34

Boutique gift shop,Present in the Laine hit the bohemian streets of North Laine, Brighton almostfive years ago. A gift and accessory haven single-handedly created by CarolineClifton, it is a great example of the unique charm small businesses bring to localcommunities. 
The reason for launchingher own shop? “I had just had my first child and wanted to create my own work.Previously I’d been working as a gift buyer for a start-up, so with theexperience of that combined with my fashion merchandising background,I felt equipped to face the challenges of running my own smallbusiness. It felt like the culmination of everything I’d done up to thenand chance to do things my way .”
Doing this has providedCaroline with the flexibility that she’d craved, and Present in the Laine hasprovided the shopping district that is its namesake with a stylish andcolourful gift shop.
It’s clear that theboutique has a special place in the hearts of the locals. Caroline only hiresfrom the local community, and the long-term commitment of customers that beganfrom the moment Present in the Laine opened its doors, is testament to locals’affection for the shop: “From the day we opened there was a hugely positiveresponse. All the visitors commented on the great atmosphere – and the amazingsmell thanks to our candle range!
“I get complimented everyday on what lovely products we have, and I love meeting lots of lovely,friendly customers who are enjoying their shopping experience in an independentstore!”
Despite such earlypopularity, Caroline has had to adapt her strategy and introduce an e-commerceside to the business, working with an online marketplace for independentboutiques. This has resulted in Present in the Laine driving traffic to itswebsite and growing its online sales.
Competing on the highstreet is often the biggest challenge a small business will face. But witha large numbers of tourists flocking to Brighton every week, tempted by theallure of streets teeming with shopping opportunities, and with the backing ofthe likes of AMEX and its Shop Small campaign, Caroline feels like smallbusinesses always have the ability to keep up. “The collective charm of themany local shops, including ours, intrigues and draws them in.”
This collective has alsoshowed spirit in the face of high street adversity. Brighton’s high streetnetwork has come together and on 6 December this year, over 100 shops in NorthLaine will open their doors for a late-night shopping event, offering customerspromotions – and prosecco – as well as extra time to complete theirall-important Christmas shopping, encouraging shoppers to do so with smallbusinesses.
Of course, this isn’t theonly time this December that North Laine’s shoppers will be encouraged to shoplocal, with Present in the Laine set to take part in Small Business Saturday on1 December. A member of this year’s Small Biz 100, Caroline says that it wasalready being a part of such a great local small business network in Brightonthat encouraged her to apply:
“I am heavily involved inthe network of small businesses here and I am passionate about helping theindependent traders of North Laine. The Small Biz 100 is a wonderful initiativewhich highlights the important role small businesses play in the localcommunity.”
Small Business Saturdaywill hopefully kickstart Present in the Laine’s busiest period. Christmasbrings a rush of visitors on the hunt for unique and thoughtful gifts –something which this small business is all too happy and equipped to provide.


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