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Living the dream of building a ‘lifestyle business’

31 October 2019 Featured Business

Growing tired of their long daily commutes, Rachel and Paul Roberts took action. They decided to use their retail and consulting experience to build a local business that was more in tune with their lifestyle.

Taking a career break to go travelling is something many of us aspire to. Apart from being huge fun, it’s also a chance to get some perspective on our everyday lives. That’s exactly how it was with Rachel and Paul Roberts – except that they did more than talk about it. They decided to create their own retail brand. 

“We were tired of schlepping to London for two to three hours every day,” Rachel admitted. “We knew all about retail, our families were in retail, so what was the worst that could happen? We could always go back to consulting.”

The result was MOOCH

It’s a gift shop that sells an ever-changing range of affordable gifts – everything from greeting cards and candles to women’s clothing accessories, such as scarves and jewellery. 

As Rachel explained, “We started off with just a website. That went okay. Then we did pop-ups, which went really well. So, eventually, we got a lease on a shop. We now have four shops, all within a 20-mile radius. It’s quite a tight little business.” 

It’s a successful business too and has already won several awards, including Best Newcomer and Best Greeting Card Retailer. The shops are all busy, each completing about a thousand transactions a week.

About 70% of their transactions are by card 

Rachel encourages this. “It makes life much easier. Cash was fine when we first opened and were both in the shop all day, but now we need to be smarter. Also, these days, the banks don’t make it easy to pay cash in.” 

“It’s so much simpler when the money just appears in the bank account – and it’s also is more simple and straightforward for a business with a back-office of two people.”

For card payments, they chose Paymentsense

“The fees were competitive,” Paul admitted, “especially since we expanded and negotiated a really good deal. But also there’s the integration with our PoS, which means we no longer need to tap amounts into the handheld terminal.”

This was critical. “On our busiest day last year, we had 209 transactions in one shop. At times we were literally processing transactions every minute. At that velocity, rekeying errors will happen – and trying to avoid them would slow us down. Also, it’s hard to provide good service when you’re worrying about how everything adds up.”

“The best testimony is that we don’t have to think about it,” Rachel added.

Connect™ integrated payments works so well that they don’t have to think about it. The staff can get on with running the business, the payments arrive predictably and it all ticks over in the background. Also, the telephone support has been really good.”

The future

Some people might be tempted to expand a brand like this and go nationwide, but that would contradict the original idea behind the business which was to improve their lifestyles and stop spending hours on the road every day.

So, they deliberately chose locations they could reach in 20 minutes. “We might expand a little further at some point,” Rachel admitted, “ but what we’re really trying to do is build a strong brand. 

She freely admits that somewhere along the line, a buyer might come along and want to develop it into something much bigger. But for now, Rachel and Paul have a strong retail asset that chimes perfectly with how they choose to live their lives.

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