Health food store Beanfreaks, which has been in business for over 40 years, has closed the doors of its city centre store in St Mary Street, Cardiff, but is on the verge of opening a smaller concept store.
The family-run business has two other hub stores – in the local communities of Roath and Canton – and the decision, brought about partly by lockdown, saw the doors of the flagship Beanfreaks, which opened in 1987, close for the last time in January.
“St Mary Street was failing to perform, and we were walking a tightrope of viability,” explains Beanfreaks director Victoria Perks (pictured). “There are many reasons for this, we had for all intent and purpose created a leviathan. That said, in March 2020 we had just taken on a new manager, primed with the task of team-building, invested time and money into giving St Mary Street a facelift and a positive direction. Then the pandemic struck. Our industry is luckier than most as we’re classed as essential retail, so we have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic, but that hasn’t been an easy task for any retailer.”
Perks says that stressful times are ‘the biggest motivator for change’ and that the family was reminded why they entered the industry: “It wasn’t to set up a supermarket, even if it was a lovely wholefood cuddle of a supermarket, we came into this industry to help people and offer an alternative.”
So the decision to close St Mary Street was taken ‘for business revaluation’ and to focus on the successful hub stores, ‘offering the level of support and service that we want to specialize in’.
However, Perks then broached the subject of opening a smaller central store with her family, who agreed, depending upon finding the right site. “When we first opened St Mary Street 33 years ago, our location was good, with ample footfall, however retail areas shift, so now I began to look through shoppers eyes, where do customers want to be?”
She decided on The Royal Arcade, which, Perks hopes, will offer opportunities for the small family business to still have a place in the city centre. Perks is poised to sign a lease on the premises to create a new concept store, [email protected], which is planned to open in May and will reflect the changing status of the store and offer a hub of advice in the city.
“The decision to take on a new store is not without a certain element of gamble, but the dice are in our favour,” says Perks. “Through hard work, industry knowledge and years of retail experience, we hope to quote A Field of Dreams: ‘If you build it, they will come’.”