mlkwood store may be one of the prettiest stores we’ve seen in a while, but it has faced its fair share of challenges over the last year: lack of passing footfall, and a few major UK lockdowns, to name a couple. We caught up with Lauren, one of the owners of mlkwood store, to hear all about how they’ve pivoted and adapted their business, and why mlkwood is going stronger now than ever before.
Hi, Lauren! Can you tell me a bit about mlkwood store, and how you got started?
Leo and I initially opened mlkwood store as a creative gallery/ studio. The inspiration for the store’s name came from the poem “Under Milkwood” by Dylan Thomas. Leo did a project all about the night and is a bit of a night owl, and the poem describes a sleepy fishing town (one much like our own), and the many interlinking stories whirring in the minds of its inhabitants… We thought it was a nice reference.
Over time we have adapted and in 2020 during the pandemic we joined forces with Jordan of Three Ridings Coffee, combining both businesses under one roof, selling homewares, coffee and gifts.
What’s been your biggest learning curve so far?
Originally opening as a gallery rather than a store because we did design work on the side. We have had to learn what works and sells, and what doesn’t. I think we misunderstood how hard selling art is, and we just adapted.
I know mlkwood store is based a little out of the main part of Leo's Bridlington. What advice would you give to other store owners who also don’t benefit from a lot of passing trade?
Keep at it. It takes time for people to get to know you. I would say eye-catching marketing is always helpful, especially social media. Also, get involved with exciting local and out of town events – this is a great way to get yourself out there and chatting to others.
We also benefit from multiple diverse income streams, as we’re not just a store, we offer design work, coffee wholesale, coffee retail, coffee brewing equipment and then all the lovely homeware items and gifts.
I know historically they say don’t spread yourself too thin, but with Covid we found doing so has helped us ride things out a little easier. Not just from a sales perspective but also a mental one. It’s much easier to work on growing a specific part of the business, whilst one (wholesale coffee during the pandemic, for instance) slows.
What are your go-to places for inspiration and advice?
I think social media is a key place for inspiration, especially as it is updated so often and quickly. I also love magazines. Leo likes to look in old journals and books, and Jordan delves into coffee forums and articles.
What’s next for mlkwood store?
We’re currently looking for bigger premises and potentially trying to have a mixture of a roastery, coffee and homeware/gifts all under one roof, but we’re waiting for the right time to do it.
Where can people find and follow you?
Our webstore: www.mlkwood.store
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Lauren! We’ve loved watching mlkwood store go from strength to strength, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.
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