‘Growth is all about changing’
After spending 2 hours with Echo Beach owners, Evette and Chris, it’s not hard to see why they have enjoyed continued success running their business in Beaumaris for the past 4 years.
How did it all start?
Being on holiday in Anglesey, Evette and Chris walked past a ‘For Sale’ sign on a shop located in Market Square, Beaumaris. 2 weeks later, they had a shop – with no plan. Chris had a good background within IT and Evette was an experienced Beauty Therapist, so together they had a lot of experience within retail. Evette was always creative and they started out by up-cycling furniture and materials as they were the only ones doing it at the time. They saw a gap in the market and filled it, which continued to evolve into selling local arts and crafts.
‘When we were on holiday in Malta, we always looked for something to buy and bring home, that was locally made and not mass produced’ – Chris told us, and this was something they wished to bring back to their own shop in Beaumaris. It was important for Evette and Chris to give visitors to Anglesey something local, handmade and of quality. Little by little people started to come to their shop, visitors and local artists.
Looking for something quirky?
Up-cycling and reusing fabrics and materials is becoming more and more popular especially now as there is a lot of focus on the environment.
‘The market shop is geared towards the local area, with more furniture and the new high street shop, Echo Beach II is more main stream and pointed towards tourism, but more quirky because thats us’ Chris told us. ‘We have a lot of old fashioned crafts if you like, such as hand-weaved rugs and blankets from Ruggy Nell and hand turned wood from Dewi Jones. People come in and show us their work, sometimes just in the spur of the moment and we always make time to see what they have to show us’.
‘Our shop is not just a shop. It’s a place where artists and communities come together’
At the same time they also sell items for as little as £1 so that children can afford to come in and buy something for their friends. The fridge magnets are increasingly popular, especially with American tourists. ‘We always keep developing and moving into different areas, such as making furniture from old plane parts. In that way, we have something for everybody, whether it’s a magnet for your fridge or a table for your living room’ Chris tells us with a smile.
Beautiful cushions made by A Life Sew Simple – sold by Echo Beach.
The way forward.
Not really knowing what our goal is, going there and figuring it out is what makes it all exciting, Chris explains. We see ourselves as a social platform. People come in with a coffee, ice cream and dogs, sometimes only just for a chat. We like to give a good experience.
The difference between going to a small shop compared to the big companies is that it is more on a personal level. You’ll see on the labels who made the item and it can be people you know. It crosses over in a way, It’s your friends, or someone you just met, so you can say it’s also a social community hub.
How do you promote yourself?
Most of what we sell towards the local community and regular customers, we promote on Facebook. We simply don’t have time to create a solid online presence in this overly overcrowded world. We would rather use that spare time doing what we love, and that is making things. We also rely on word of mouth and character building.
It’s also important that you are still current, so changing the stock around creates interest and people will visit our Facebook page as it is constantly changing.
Colourful dog lead hangers which will brighten any rainy day!
How would you say your current market is?
Obviously our most busy time is the Holidays, the 6 week holiday, Easter, bank Holidays and so forth. However, come winter, we just make sure we have things for people by rotating our stock around.
We also have our local customers, so with the new shop, it allows us focus on the up-cycling side of the business in the Market Square. This keeps it current for everyone, all year round. Very often it’s also more weather based then seasonal. If the weather is awful outside, the main street is quiet, and visa versa.
Anglesey, Brexit and the future
Anglesey has always been promoted as the energy island, however things are looking different now. With Wylfa being temporarily put on hold, it’s hard to foresee which direction it will take. The council doesn’t seem to be interested in promoting Anglesey and tourism, almost going out of their way not promoting it. Today tourism is keeping places such as Beaumaris alive with more visiting cruise ships and coaches.
Tourism, during the first nine months of 2018, brought in £5.015 billion to Wales (https://gov.wales/wales-tourism-performance-january-september-2018-0) with both international and national visitors. 78% of businesses had also seen a greater level, and it seems that Wales is growing in popularity. Along with Brexit, it will be cheaper for people to travel to the UK and also the people living in the UK will probably travel more within the UK.
‘Brexit might not affect people, but bigger projects. It’s all a little uncertain, but Beaumaris probably have a stronger position within tourism as we are a historical destination’, Chris says.
With the right promotion, it can create a good and solid future not only for Anglesey, but all of Wales.