With everything that is going on in the world at the moment, I thought it might be a good time to share a little bit about the faces behind Enchanted On Conadilly.
We have visitors (Before Isolation) from all over Australia who come into the store and are really surprised when they ask about the set-up of our diverse shop. It’s not something Stu and I think about because it is what it is. We just take it for granted now, but looking at it from an outsider’s perspective, I suppose it can be a little daunting.
Enchanted On Conadilly was born in 2018, but to get to this point it’s been a bit of a journey.
Let me share our story with you.........
Stuart & I moved to Gunnedah from Moree in 1996. In Moree Stuart was working for an Ag Retail Store, B & W Rural, and on the side he produced a herbicide additive.
We were also partner’s in a small Nursery called The Flower Mill. This was located at the premises of B & W Rural. What weekends weren’t taken up mixing crop oil, were often taken up watering and caring for the plants in the Nursery.
Our kids were just little babies at the time and loved going to work with us. At the Nursery we had the most amazing little playground that the guys made for the kids. (All the partners had little ones). It’s funny looking back into our work history and seeing what we do now so many years later. All your knowledge seems to come together.
Coming to Gunnedah, Stu starting working at Pursehouse Rural as an AWB Representative, when the AWB opened up their own Branch in Guinnedah, Stuart Managed that Office. After changes within the AWB, Stuart started working as a Business Analylist travelling around Australia talking to Farmers about what the AWB could offer them as a Business Platform and based on the information, Stuart then put proposals to AWB for future opportunites. (Once again, incredible experience for what would come in the future).
This was taking Stuart away from his young family, so when the research was concluded, he started his own Agricultural Consulting Business in 2004. He specialises in finding the right price for farmers who want to sell their grain, grain brokerage. As part of that Stu analysis the World Grain Markets, discovering what opportunities are available for farmers to help them get the best price for their crops.
Stuart starts work at 6.30am everyday where he will analyse world markets when it's nice and quiet with no interruptions. He will draft his marketing report and send that out to farmers in the morning and again in the afternoon with a price analysis. He has continued to offer this service right through the 2 1/2 years of drought, basically missing out on the income of 5 harvests. It's this commitment that shows he is dedicated to this field and we look forward to Farmers once again reaping a good harvest after all this wonderful rain we've had.
Coming from Ag Retail Stu gained a good understanding of plant growth and combined with a little knowledge gained while we had an interest in the Nursery has taught us a lot about Floristry. After working with the Australian Wheat Board from the Melbourne Office he gained management & business development skills. From analysing what a customer requires, building a platform to deliver that and what is required to make it viable. All amazing skills moving forward.
As I have shared on the Blog earlier, in the article "What is success in Business", I started out working for myself in 2003/2004 with Balloons and Wedding & Event Decor. While the kids were young, I worked from home.
In 2011 I thought it was time to open a "Real Store". This was so scary. Stuart was a business analyst, it's what he does, so we sat down to do a business plan and worked out the amount that was needed to do this and what I would have to turn over every day to afford to stay in business. It was scary stuff and I will never forget the first week of my store being open I just cried and cried because no one was coming into my shop! I was going to go broke!
Our Local Council has always advocated for Start Ups. We are so lucky Gunnedah has such a progressive Council. Back in 2011 Adam Marshall was Mayor and he would visit me and encourage me personally. We knew Adam through various local pursuits and early on he encouraged me to apply for the Business Partner Program, which I did and was successful in getting a small grant. The deal was that if you closed up shop within 3 years, you had to give that money back!!! So that really spurred me on to make this work. I started off with myself and 2 junior staff members who helped out on weekends and after school.
In 2012 things really started to pump along and I was getting more and more enquires for Floristry work, so I began some study in that area. I beleive that you have to let your customers guide for your focus, determine what it is they are looking for. I'd always had an interest in Floristry, my Pop was a keen gardener and I loved cutting the stems and arranging them in my bedroom and I also had the experience in the nursery in Moree, so it wasn't totally out of the question for me. Training started and I officially became a Florist.
I kept growing and growing. I also started a Scrapbook Shop called the Scrapbook Nook. We had classes and a huge range of product. But with the onset of online buying keeping that business viable became very difficult. I looked for another area and something that became obvious to me was Ladies Fashion.
In 2015, Stu & I went to Sydney to have a look at a couple of Ladies Fashion Brands I just loved to buy myself and because you have to buy over 6 months in advance with Ladies Fashion it wasn't until about August 2015 that I got my first shipment of Winter Stock and started selling clothing. This led into so many other problems! Now I needed a bigger store.
In October 2016, Stu & I bought the Furniture & Carpet Store - Riley's Furniture & Carpets. We would make it into a Department Store combining Furniture & Carpets, Blinds, Ladies Fashion, Florist, Gift & Homewares. Stuart would also operate his Consultancy from these premises as well.
Our Son Josh came on board and trained as a Flooring Specialist and that's how we started. Stuart, Josh & I, as well as Laurie who was retained to look after Blinds. I had my staff from the Balloon Shop, Amy & Roxy plus my gorgeous junior Arna. While the girls took care of the Flowers, Balloons & Fashions, Stu & I started to learn all about Furniture & Mattresses.
We turned over a few staff at the beginning. Furniture was a completely different ballgame. Arna went off to Uni, Roxy & Amy moved onto other pursuits. We hired another Florist so I could concentrate on Furniture and developing this new business to bring it all together.
We entered the Regional Business Awards under the category of Start Up Superstar and we won it in April 2017, this took us the State Business Awards in Sydney in November the same year.
We were starting have a little difficulty offering the selection of Bedding & Mattresses that we thought the town required as we just didnt have enough room, so in November we opened our second store across the road at 250 Conadilly Street
We split the Stores in 2017 when Stuart, Josh and Laurie moved the bedding, flooring and blinds into that store. We were a member of the Funiture House Group at this time and we had recently won an award for increased sales, so opening the second store was a step in the right direction. Customers didnt have to go out of town to try every mattress they needed to, to get the perfect night sleep!!
But having the two doors - one with the "Girls" and one with the "Boys", the battle of the sexes had started!!!!
(- Zombie Walk 2017)
So as to not bore everyone to tears, I will continue with that story in another post.
As you can see though, the face of our store has changed to meet the needs of the commuity. Even in the days of my Balloon Shop, I was always adjusting my focus, listening to what customers were looking for when it came to supplying a certain service. Its an ever changing landscape, and we have had to re-educate ourselves along the way to meet our customers need.
Keep an eye out for what comes next....