PASSIONATE community trader Wen McLachlan says there is still a high demand for unique, in-store shopping experience amid the increasing online trends.
Wen and Ware Living has been a favourite destination for Ballarat shoppers in a troubled Bridge Mall.
The family business’ continued success translated into a new store on Geelong West’s trendy Pakington Street last week. This adds to a Wen and Ware shop in Malvern, the family opened 12 years ago.
Ms McLachlan said the business already felt embraced by a strong trading community on the popular Geelong strip and by Geelong locals who knew the Wen and Ware brand well, often from day trips to Ballarat.
“We’re very passionate about the (Bridge) Mall. I’ve been here for 30 years in various forms...I love it and would love to see the mall develop more. It’s so different to shopping centres with cookie-cutter shops. This is why we think we’ve found the perfect spot in Geelong,” Ms McLachlan said.
“We’re a country store that went to the city first but want to keep looking regionally. In Malvern, we’re near Cabrini (hospital) and find we get a lot of customers from home looking for that piece of Ballarat in Melbourne. There are a lot of familiar faces.”
A big drawcard, customers always tell them, is the store’s trademark free gift wrapping and carefully constructed bows for presents. Ms McLachan’s daughter Prue, who leads merchandise and lives above the Malvern store, said wrapping makes the buyer feel good and continues a “cycle of happiness” in present giving.
Ms McLachlan’s daughter-in-law Angela will run the Geelong store. A Geelong girl, Angela was quick to find Wen and Ware a favourite as a place to buy presents for family and friends when studying in Ballarat, long before she met her husband. She too loved the wrapping trimmings.
Angela spend five years looking in Geelong for the perfect shop to bring a little bit of Ballarat back with her. She said what she has always loved about the shop was you could always find something for everyone.
Wen and Ware makes a focus to employ staff who know the shopping areas and local customers well. Two staff in the Bridge Mall have been with the business in the 16 years since foundation. In Geelong, they have recruited an assistant who worked the past eight years in the Pakington Street shoe store Wen and Ware moved into.
The family travel the world searching for homeware and living goods. This year alone they have made trips to Morocco, the Philippines, India and China. Their focus is on a unique retail experience.
Right from when Wen and Ware first opened in the mall, they have sourced fibre for their wrappings from France. Their focus is on a unique retail experience.
Wen and Ware will take this into their next venture: by Christmas, they will launch an online store in what they say is both a necessity now for business and a chance to spread a little more of Ballarat, mostly via gift cards. The online expansion, led by Angela and Prue, will still offer wrapping in true Wen and Ware style.
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