Snook's Gift Boutique is a treasure-trove - and what a sparkling gem it is! The large glass frontage bursts onto The Arcade with a vibrant display of gifts, cards, jewellery, art, and homewares. Step inside and you’ll find yourself completely immersed - exploring and admiring every nook and cranny of the immaculately dressed, shabby-chic shelves, full of beautiful keepsakes and trinkets, cards for every occasion and characterful soft toys!
Amanda didn’t begin her entrepreneurial journey in retail - initially establishing herself as a nail and beauty therapist.
‘I started out on the road, and then progressed into a salon in Chichester where I was for about four or five years. I then went out on my own and opened Posh Paws Nail and Beauty Salon on Aldwick Road - we’ve been there nine years this year!’
Amanda started to stock gift items especially aimed at women at her salon and noticed a real interest in that market.
‘You can only go so far with nails and beauty, and there are only so many hours in the day. So, initially it was a means to create extra revenue; I’d already built my existing target audience, and started out with handbags, accessories, scarves, and things that would catch a woman's eye, just to help the sales. And of course, it did.’
Amanda is a businesswoman that clearly does her research before starting a new venture, so when she’s not in her salon or Snook's, she can be found at trade shows.
‘I started going to the smaller trade shows initially, and then after three or four years went up to one of the big ones. It really opened my eyes to a completely different world, which inspired me to want to bring something else out that was more than just scarves and handbags. You have to be careful where you put your money, as there are a lot of people and companies out there that will only sell on bigger scales, and a lot of them require minimum orders and or large quantities of products. Sometimes it's about finding other people that will bring those quantities down for you and building relationships. And then, once you know the kind of things that have worked for you, you're more confident to stock up on a higher level. I've never done any form of retail before as I've always been in the beauty industry; you’re still serving the public, but the two are very different worlds.’
The beautiful displays and immaculate presentation of Snook’s Gift Boutique makes it impossible to walk through The Arcade without slowing your pace or turning your head! Amanda’s attention to detail and enthusiasm for design and beauty shines through her business at every level.
‘I am quite ‘arty-farty’! I do like interior design and that type of thing. That's the fun part for me; it's one thing to source a product, but then coming into the shop and making it look nice is what I enjoy most!’
Other local businesses are equally impressed by Amanda’s displays. Matt, owner of the nearby “Sweet Jar”, smiles as he observes, ‘We can’t keep up with Amanda’s standards, so we don’t even try!’ He commends Amanda’s dedication to the presentation of her business, and the value it brings to The Arcade where his business is also based.
Putting her heart into her business isn’t just reflected in the aesthetics of Snook's - the name and branding also hold a very special meaning for Amanda.
‘Snook was my mum’s pet name for me, and after she passed away in 2014, I asked my designer to take my mum’s handwriting from the last Christmas card she sent me, which forms the ‘Snook's’ part of the gift tag of the design, as well as my grandfather’s and father’s handwriting for the ‘gift’ and ‘boutique’ elements of the logo.’
Snook's opened in May 2019, and, along with all other “non-essential retailers”, were faced with lockdown closures within less than twelve months of opening. Despite this blow, Amanda seems to have taken things in her stride:
‘Many of us were faced with nine months’ worth of closure. We weren't even open our first year before we had to close for Covid, so it’s difficult to reflect back or compare to previous years in terms of how much it affected us. Obviously, you go into panic mode when something like that happens, but we put a lot of work and man hours into our website to create a good online presence for our customers, and we are hopeful that things will return to normal soon.’
Snook's sell well-known and local brands such as Katie Loxton, Joma Jewellery, Wrendale, and Jelly Cat Soft Toys. Amanda shares how indie businesses need to compete with larger chains offering the same items by bringing something extra to the purchasing experience:
‘You’re competing with the likes of bigger companies such as John Lewis who may stock the same brands, but we’re able to offer the same quality products at an affordable price, and our local customers do want to support independent businesses more, so you really need to push yourself to make sure you’re out there, and people know about you. Our greeting cards line receives great feedback, and we offer a large collection of different cards to most other places. There’s limited space here, and I try to fill every corner! And it’s great that I can display our cards outside the front of the shop for people to browse.’
Amanda’s customers are not just tourists, but local residents as well, and she’s always keeping an eye on stock to see what performs well.
‘I do stock some items that are personalised, and Bognor Regis related gifts, so I keep an eye on what does well so we’re then able to order higher quantities - you’re learning every day what your customers want.’
If you’re looking for a masterclass in window display, then Snook's is certainly the business to study! Amanda’s natural aptitude for design and beauty reflects in displays that are both beautiful and inviting. There’s often a much-anticipated seasonal change, with remarkable displays for Spring, Autumn and Christmas. We asked Amanda if she feels presentation of shop fronts is something that businesses should give attention to?
‘Absolutely. I’m really big on window displays, which started with Posh Paws on Aldwick Road. Over the years it’s been interesting to hear that - regardless of whether someone has visited our business, they still know who we are from our window displays! It invites people to come in next time they walk by, and also makes you known.'
Amanda oozes dedication, commitment, and attention to detail, not just in the boutique’s presentation, but in her approach to business, and her undeniable entrepreneurial streak. However, she recognises the need to regularly ‘stand back from it all’, especially when you’re a ‘solopreneur.’
‘I always have my eye open! Not just on how to improve my business but I also look for new opportunities. However, it can be stressful, especially when you’re on your own. It’s easy to forget to look back and reflect on how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. I look after all aspects of the business, so it can be tiring at times at the end of a day. I have incredible friends, family and colleagues who tell me how amazed they are at my achievements, but when you’re on the ‘front-line’ you just don’t see it! I usually have a vision in my mind of what I’d like to achieve and then just do it. So, I think it’s important to take a step back and reflect on what you’ve done every now and again.’
We hope that Amanda keeps sharing her vision with Bognor Regis and feel very fortunate to have such a fantastic role model and inspiration within our Indie community! We encourage you to pop into Snook's and support this fantastic local business, and if you’re looking for a gift or keepsake ... Snook's have you covered.