This week, in our Inside Store First series, we sat down and spoke to Store First, Barnsley, tenants, Flox Creative, to find out a little bit more about them, what makes them tick and why they chose to base their business from Store First’s Barnsley self-storage centre.
We caught up with mother and daughter team, and owners of the company, Belinda, and Jamie Hickling, to find out more.
Who are Flox Creative and what do you do?
“Flox Creative is a clothing and accessories company. We create unique designs on a variety of clothing for men, women, children and babies. We also print our designs onto bags, mugs, and sashes. All our designs are made to order, in-house, so we’re able to customise them on a piece by piece basis, too.”
How did you hear about Store First?
“We didn’t technically hear about Store First. We were in the process of looking to move to bigger premises and happened to drive past and see the Store First sign, so we came in to enquire. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Why did you decide to operate from a self-storage unit at Store First?
“From the first moment that we made contact with the staff at Store First, Barnsley, our experience has been really positive. We were immediately made to feel welcomed and important and the staff seemed really competent, friendly and professional.
“The self-storage units we were shown offered us the space that we needed, with the additional knowledge that we could add to our space, or if necessary, downsize, as and when we needed, without a lengthy notice period. At Store First, we pay for what we use, and nothing more. It’s perfect for us, really.”
So, how long have you been at Store First?
“We moved in at the beginning of August 2016, and we’ve been here since.”
How big is the self-storage unit you’re based from?
“We started out with a 475 sq ft unit. But already, in the eight months we’ve been here, Store First has helped our business to grow, and we now have another unit, as well, which is 250 sq ft. So, all told, we’re operating from 725 sq ft.”
So, what exactly do you use your self-storage units for, just to store equipment or do your business operations take place there, too?
“Everything. We store our stock and equipment in our self-storage unit, we also carry out of all our business activities from here.
“We literally run our entire business from Store First, Barnsley.”
What additional benefits do you get from operating from Store First?
“The self-storage units are accessible 24-hours a day, and importantly, they feel safe and secure, even at night when no-one else is around.
“The security is fantastic and contents protection is included in the price we pay, which provides us with great peace of mind. We also have the benefit of knowing exactly how much our running costs are going to be each month.
“In addition, the Store First staff are all forklift truck qualified, so when we have larger deliveries they’ve been on hand to unload them for us. Then, the fact that there is a freight lift right in the loading bay makes it really easy for us to take our merchandise up to our self-storage unit.
“Finally, but no less importantly, the Store First staff are always on hand and happy to receive any post that needs to be signed for on our behalf, which means if for any reason we aren’t around, there’s always someone there to make sure we never miss a delivery.”
Do you make use of the free facilities that are available at Store First?
“Yes, we used the free pick-up service to transport all of our stock and equipment when we first moved into our self-storage unit.
“We regularly use the free gym after work. We also use the breakout area at lunchtimes, and it has to be said, we enjoy taking full advantage of the free coffee, too!
“On top of that, we regularly use the free boardroom facilities for meetings with clients and suppliers.”
How has being based at Store First helped you to run your business successfully?
“Right from initially making an enquiry about running our business from a self-storage pod, here at Store First, the staff have been more than helpful!
“We explained what kind of business we are and what kind of facilities we need and asked a few questions about what size storage unit the staff thought we would need and whether the free Wi-Fi signal would be accessible in the unit. All our questions were answered professionally and knowledgeably, and we were impressed by the suggestions we were given, too: we weren’t immediately offered the most expensive options, we were given advice that we felt was bespoke to us, and that was actually best for our business. We were also offered several payment options so we could work out which would be most suitable for us.
“On a day-to-day running of the business kind of level, the Store First staff have helped us overcome some of the practical difficulties that we could’ve faced without their help. For example, getting electricity to our unit and giving us a unit that was as well-lit as they come, as we generally spend all day in it.
“They also gave our electrician access to the unit ahead of our move in date, to ensure it was ready for when we moved in, allowing us to continue our operations with minimal disruption and enabling us to miss virtually no working time, even during the move in.
“Also, Store First already has fire safety protocols, fire extinguishers and signage in place, which gave us one less thing to worry about during our move in.
“Finally, the reception staff, as we’ve mentioned, but can’t stress enough, are always friendly, helpful and professional. This, in turn, reflects well on our business. Likewise, having access to private boardrooms for meetings with clients, reps and suppliers has helped our business to look more professional.”
What would you say is the best thing Store First has done for your business?
“We’d probably say two things: Basing our business from the self-storage centre has provided us with a unique space, that Store First has allowed us to completely customise so it’s specific to the needs of our business. And, the staff. We’re repeating ourselves, but they’re always helpful and will happily go out of their way to help in any way they can.”
Would you recommend Store First to other SMEs?
“Yes, absolutely. Without reservation, you’d having nothing to lose and everything to gain!”