With three cafes already trading in Aberystwyth, Llandudno and Caernarfon, MMX Retail advised on her most recent site in St Catherine’s Walk in Carmarthen, which opened its doors this summer.
Alana talks to us about breaking ribs for the perfect shopfit, why bricks-and-mortar will always be an essential element of her business, and her plans for the future.
What made you choose Carmarthen for your latest store?
Ridiculously Rich is mainly based in Aberystwyth, that is my home and where our bakery is located – we also opened our first coffee shop here. We focused on seaside locations for the first few coffee shops, but when we decided to branch out to a high street store, Carmarthen definitely felt like the right location.
I have family based here in Carmarthen and whenever I visit it has such a vibrant and busy atmosphere. Sadly, like a lot of towns, it has seen its fair share of store closures in the past few years, but cafés and other food outlets seem to have weathered the storm well, so all in all it felt like the perfect fit.
How does the Carmarthen store complement your other sites?
Our other sites are all seaside locations which are beautiful, but we wanted to branch out to a high street store to introduce ourselves to a different market. We replaced our seaside favourite fries with a range of freshly made sandwiches for anyone looking for a lunchtime option and still serve our delicious coffee and cake ranges too.
This store has a large amount of indoor seating making it the perfect location to meet friends and family and it has already proven very popular for after-school visits too.
You fell from a ladder whilst fitting out the Carmarthen store and broke four ribs – that’s dedication to a shopfit! How involved in the fitout process are you and why is this important to you?
I am always heavily involved in the fitout process of every store, I love it! For me, designing, building, setting up and decorating the store is my favourite part, it is where I get to be creative and show my personality through the store.
For me I prefer the physical side of work – give me a paintbrush over having to do emails any day! We do as much of the fitout as we can ourselves and while each store is different and has its own personality, ultimately each location is a little bit of me so being as involved as I can is really important.
How has the store been performing since opening?
The store is great! We have an amazing team who fill it with so much fun and energy. Our coffee and cakes have been a real hit and we have already got our much-loved regulars. But the cost of living is definitely worrying a lot of people and customers are being more cautious, which is why we have created various money-saving offers and cheaper options – everyone should be able to treat themselves without having to worry. Overall, though, we are really happy with how the store is performing and hope it continues to grow.
How important are bricks and mortar cafes to your business, and what role do they play in your business alongside your online offer?
The business started at food festivals and events and it was this way for years. While online is massively important, the coffee shops to me are an extension of where the business started – a physical tangible part of the business. I love having that creative outlet for my ideas and I take a lot of pride in our coffee shops.
Being online is so important for any business, and we have to pay a lot of focus to this as shopping habits are definitely online focused, but we find that the two complement each other well. They are almost advertising platforms for each other – people that have tried our cakes in one of our coffee shops will often then purchase a box online and visa-versa.
What is it like operating stores as an independent mini chain in the current climate?
Like many other small business, we have struggled over the past few years. COVID was a very difficult time, then coming out of that to face the cost-of-living crisis has added its own hurdles and challenges. Recruitment and staffing has been such a struggle, but we have taken some comfort in knowing we are not alone in the struggles businesses are facing at the moment. You find yourself questioning daily what the right thing to do is and how you can do the best thing for your staff, customers and the business. It has probably been the most stressful few years in business, but any time you see that same loyal customer or read a lovely review, it reminds you why you push forward and adapt.
What are your plans and next steps to continue growing Ridiculously Rich by Alana?
For the short term, we are just going to pour as much love and attention as we can into our existing coffee shops, online sales and the wholesalers we work with. We are holding off on any new coffee shops for the time being so we can really take care of what we have.
I am based in the bakery again at the moment which I love, and it has given me the chance to begin creating some delicious treats for the next few months!
Ridiculously Rich by Alana, St Catherine’s Walk, Carmarthen
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