This month, Contents International Design is celebrating an impressive 10 years in business as an independent designer furniture and homewares store. Owner Andrew Algar recalls some of the hurdles, ups and downs and favourite parts of the past decade in business.
Coming from a wholesale background, at the start and my first venue in retail it was a bit of ‘just get on with it and work it out’. Most days you had no idea what you were doing but had to look like you did while you figured it out. I’m so thankful to have the ear of my father, having been in the industry over 40 years, even if just for those days you need to vent to someone who’s been there before. Opening with one supplier, I rapidly saw the need for lots of different aspects to be offered within the store. I had many people saying they loved the store but didn’t need a sofa right now, so adding homewares into the offering was the next logical step.
It’s exciting, having got here, knowing that only two percent of businesses that start make it to 10 years, but sad knowing so many don’t. I feel most business fail initially due to lack of startup funds, expecting to make money the week they open. It’s a tough slog, especially starting something nobody’s heard of, selling something new to a market in a place no one can find. I believe there is no substitute for just downright hard work, there are times when you feel like you’re on a treadmill with a carrot in front of you.
As a 26 year-old, there were many eye-burning Sunday mornings in the shop after a couple the night before, telling yourself it’s only sleep, you can catch up later! I’m still waiting for later but it feels like if I did, three years would pass with my finger off the pulse and I’d look back with regret knowing it was me that took the finger off, not anyone else. I’m very thankful to a loving wife who knows how important the shop is (especially when I’ve worked seven days for three weeks).
Location was an issue with the store’s initial setup; foot traffic wasn’t there so we had to drum up people and trade any way we could. But this combined with opening three months before the GFC, sprawling doom and gloom across the media was a good lesson, learning how to run the business off the smell of an oily rag and a good reminder of what could happen.
Moving to the Supa Centa Moore Park in 2012 was a lightbulb moment with their refurbishment and enhanced tenants, it was an opportunity to create a wonderful space throwing everything into it. Accessibility was much better and we had a gauge to test products with. It’s hard to tell if people like something if they aren’t there. I believe doing things by halves will get you half the result, I’d feel better knowing I put everything into something and it failed than wondering ‘what if?’ afterwards.
I still feel like I’ve been in retail 10 minutes rather than 10 years, yet love the possibilities and freedom that come with having no rules. We can’t wait for our 10th year with many exciting things coming up this year and want to thank everyone that has made it possible along the way.
To celebrate the anniversary, everything is on sale until 4 February 2018.