The opening of a Costcutter Express convenience store bang in the middle of Main Street, Castlebar, has proved a big hit for business man Pat Staunton.
The pharmacist-turned-one-stop-shop retailer has been taken by surprise with the consistent stream of customers passing through the store which runs front-to-back from Main Street directly into the Market Square car park.
At 1,000sq ft and with eight staff on board, Cost Cutters is almost six months in operation. In that time Pat Staunton has been enjoying the changeover from a seasonal-dependent pharmacy trade to one that requires all hands on deck every day. Mr Staunton relies on his ”wonderful team of staff” to keep the footfall graph in the ascendant by catering to customer needs as they develop over time and is determined that the convenience store is here to stay on the landscape of the county town’s central thoroughfare.
“We had a great initial reaction and didn’t know how things would go after that but the reality is business has remained steady since day one, with customer numbers increasing every week,” he said. “In the pharmacy business you expect to have big dips and troughs according to the different times of the year, but in the retail everything is that bit quicker. The assumption is it’s the retailer who speeds up the turnover of goods but actually it’s the milk men and the bread delivery fellows who arrive every day that keep things in motion and that in turn takes the strain off us.”
While the focus to date has been on high convenience that includes an offering of sweets, drinks, ice-creams, cigarettes, newspapers, milk, bread, and toilet rolls, there is also a new move to getting the right product mix to suit demand. “Gradually we’re introducing more offers to find out what people buy. For instance, we’re noticing a big take-up on pizzas and wine as people grab a meal for the evening.”
The price of teas and coffees in the shop — which can be enjoyed with pastries in the cafe area at the back — has generated a lot of positive feedback. “It seems people are fed up being charged through the roof for hot drinks when they don’t want to pay to sit down in a cafe for a half an hour.”
So just how exciting is it to be discovering a new world of business for a man from a family steeped in business in Castlebar?
“It’s certainly different,” said the unflappable Staunton . “It’s nice to get back into the teeth of high intensity day-to-day retailing and working to harness the growing footfall now happening in the town is keeping us on our toes.”