Death of the high street from a waterbed and adjustable bed retailer.
A short story cut long!
Should we move the retail of waterbeds and adjustable beds from Southsea high street to our factory in Chichester?
High & Dry Waterbeds had it’s first waterbed shop in the Tricorn shopping centre, Some of you may remember it. That was in 1989 twenty two years ago. Electric adjustable beds and nursing care beds were introduced shortly after and so High & Dry Waterbeds became High & Dry Manufacturing Ltd.
Rather than throwing money away paying rent, High & Dry Waterbeds purchased a retail shop on Milton Road, Portsmouth. Back Care Beds purchased the shop on Elm Grove, Southsea. At the time both were good thriving high street locations.
It is assumed that we must find a solution to the decline of the high street but maybe it is just evolution. Why is it such a problem that the local butchers close?
Thirteen years ago we took the decision to merge our two shops for a number of reasons. Firstly was a severe lack of parking, and as we were so close to Portsmouth football ground, on a weekend when Pompey were playing at home parking was almost impossible. This is not good when customers want to spend time trying all the different waterbeds. Secondly, Portsmouth City Council issued planning permission for all businesses in the Milton area of Portsmouth for change of use. On reflection I would say that this was the point at which I realised that the days of the high street shop were numbered. One by one small lock up shop owners around our waterbed shop bit the bullet and cashed in. The shops that had once been the heart of the local community were replaced with blocks of tiny apartments. Well, each apartment has a young couple, and each has their own car, worsening the parking problems. Call it progress or changing with the times, but the move was very good for us. We converted the shop into four flats which give a nice income.
With the adjustable beds and waterbeds now merged in Elm Grove, Southsea and doing rather well, it was time to purchase the freehold for our manufacturing. After a lot of searching we found the perfect property, in the village of Almodington near Chichester, West Sussex. We promptly gutted and practically rebuilt it. A trade showroom was set up with a range of our most popular waterbeds, adjustable beds and nursing care beds. As sales of both waterbeds and particularly adjustable bed mechanisms increased mainly to trade customers it became necessary to establish our own production in Eastern Europe. This is the result of successive British governments over regulating and over taxing small businesses in the UK. It is also a springboard to enable High & Dry Manufacturing to supply waterbeds and adjustable beds into Germany. Italy, France etc.
So now we have our trade showroom at our workshop out of town at Chichester. History is beginning to repeat it’s self. Traffic is becoming a nightmare. Empty shops get rented out for a year before being abandoned again. If you live outside of Portsmouth, it is just as easy to drive to Chichester to see our range of waterbeds, adjustable beds and nursing care beds.
If we were to sell our high street shop now we could lose a lot of business having become the only specialist waterbed and adjustable bed retailer in Portsmouth and surrounding area. Despite having been offered very good money to sell, especially in the current financial climate, we have decided not to sell for the time being.
If the situation changes, we will contact all of our customers by post, email and phone.