The old tale about a bride and groom receiving half a dozen toasters from well-meaning relatives on their wedding day has passed into 70s history. But, what to buy the modern couple? It’s a question that is guaranteed to drive their guests to near insanity.
Toasters, bed linen, TVs, pots, pans and all the rest of the boring household necessities are fine but… let’s face it, they aren’t fun to buy, they aren’t fun to receive and they certainly aren’t going to increase in value! So, why not think of the unconventional?
I’ve been involved in various businesses in Scotland over the years: weddings, restaurants, photography, writing, letting property are just a few. And this modern, multi-streaming lifestyle led me eventually to the simple world of buying and selling.
We had a problem. We owned a small Highlands restaurant which could not possibly bring in enough money even if we worked every hour available and filled the place to bursting point night after night. So we thought: let’s sell things as well. We already had a good customer base, and so the challenge was to sell things to them in addition to the good quality food. We needed to ‘add value’ to their dining experience, and charge them for it.
These were the criteria we set:
1 We refused to load profit onto the wine. We knew the profit margins on wine and knew that it was a common tactic of restaurants to charge customers through the nose for drink. And we knew how customers felt about this. They simply don’t like being ripped off! Neither do we.
2 The retail items would need to add to and improve the general ambience of the restaurant so ‘tat’ was out.
3 The items would have to sell themselves. We wouldn’t have the time to give customers the ‘hard sell’ while preparing and serving food and, besides, hard sell is not our style. We don’t feel comfortable with it.
4 The things would have to look good, feel good and be intrinsically interesting.
5 They would have to be accessible to customers, not locked away in drawers or cupboards.
6 They would be the type of thing that would encourage a dinner party atmosphere between diners rather than put up communication barriers. In short, they would encourage conversation.
7 There would need to be a range of items, from the cheap to the expensive so we could not rely on one supplier. meniu bauturi nunta-botez
8 We needed a regular and reliable supply of these items.
9 They needed to be cheap to buy and yet give us a healthy profit margin.
10 And finally, they needed to be things that we liked. How could we live with things we hated and how could we sell them to others? Unthinkable!
And the answer to our problem after weeks and months of thinking? Second-hand books, antiques and collectables!
We lined the restaurant with bookshelves and filled them with hard back literature. We filled every nook and cranny with curios. We hung things from walls and from beams and from every spare vertical surface. We even cleared out an old shed and packed it to the gunnels with interesting things. And all of them carried a price tag.
And the result? Success beyond our wildest dreams! The customers loved it, they bought it by the barrowload (we sold barrows as well!) and we made handsome profits. And it was great fun.
So, where did we buy all these items? At local auctions, that’s where. And we still go to them. They are addictive. And we still deal now and again even though we sold our restaurant last year. It’s on a smaller scale than before, admittedly, but that means we can be more selective. Silver and glassware, jewellery and genuine antiques – they are all there to be had as potential wedding presents. Monart glass, silver napkin rings, antique silver-topped wine and vinegar bottles are much more fun than a toaster and, if you buy wisely, you will be giving the lucky couple something that is both beautiful and a sound financial investment.