Spotlight On: Misty Glen, Loch Lomond Shores
Our Spotlight On Series, focusing on local Loch Lomond businesses, chats to Sue Black, Owner of shop Misty Glen at Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch. Hi Sue, please tell us more about your shop, Misty Glen. Eight years ago I had just sold my restaurant and shops business, which was in the Loch Lomond area, as I wanted to concentrate on retailing. I was intrigued by the new Loch Lomond Shores and decided that I wanted to be a part of it –it’s such a beautiful setting and a must-see for every visitor to Scotland; the scenery is magnificent and I thought it would be lovely to work in such an awe-inspiring environment What’s your role in the shop and do you have such a thing as a typical day? My role in the shop is Manager: I do everything to keep the place running smoothly, including ordering stock, updating my website and online shop, covering shifts, working on displays, making signs, designing adverts and more. There is no such thing as a typical day and I am lucky enough to have wonderful staff to look after the shop, and great customers. My favourite part of the job is going to trade fairs to look for new stock. It is so exciting to see new things and to choose beautiful products to sell in Misty Glen. What kind of products can customers find in Misty Glen? We are probably best known for our range of jewellery, with about 30 different suppliers covering costume jewellery to silver with precious/semi-precious stones, and designs from Mackintosh-inspired and Celtic to up-to-the-minute contemporary designs. Our walls are adorned with mirrors and wall art, we sell a lot of hand-painted tiles by Skye Tiles and Benaya, and our new range of Kerry's Crystal Art is a huge hit this year – absolutely stunning pictures with mirror/coloured glass decorated with fused glass and Swarovski crystals. We also sell glassware and pottery, artificial flowers and vases – we make up a lot of arrangements especially for customers. Our luxury aromatherapy bath products are very popular and we sell a lot of traditional gifts such as pen sets, quaichs, trinket boxes. What’s it like being based at Loch Lomond Shores? It's lovely – you're always dealing with people who are on a trip out or on holiday, so they are relaxed and enjoying their visit. There is such a lot going on at the site that there's always something interesting to see, and it is so beautiful, even in the rain, with dramatic clouds enhancing the scenery. Where do your customers come from - what do you think they like best about shopping with you? You might be surprised to hear that most of our customers are local or semi-local, regular visitors. Obviously we do get a lot of tourists, and coach parties, in the main holiday periods, but most of our customers are people who just want a drive or walk – and to enjoy browsing through the shops and maybe a coffee or lunch in one of our lovely cafes. People tend to like Misty Glen as it has lot of products which you don't 'see everywhere else' – unusual and beautiful things. Also, as we are a small business, we can be flexible and give a personal service. We often do special orders for customers; sometimes it's something which they saw a week ago and now we've sold it – we can try to reorder, or match specific products such as earrings to a pendant for example, customers really appreciate this kind of service and it has helped us to build up a big repeat customer base. What are people buying at the moment – what’s popular? Do different types of customers tend to buy different products? In summer, with more visitors to Scotland, we increase our ranges which have Scottish themes – Celtic and Mackintosh designs, maybe with a touch of tartan, Scotties and “Westies” etc. We also try to sell quite a lot of Scottish-made products and this is popular not only with tourists, but with our local customers who want to support our own economy, or who are maybe sending presents abroad, so there is a lot of overlap in what different customers want. Many people are simply looking for something which they love or can't resist. In the run-up to Christmas we sell a lot of costume jewellery. All the sparkle comes out for the party season. This year we have introduced the 'Loch Lomond Bear' – a lovable teddy dressed in a hat and scarf made with authentic tartan and a woolly jumper with 'Loch Lomond Bear' stitched on it – these are exclusive to Misty Glen and are proving to be a big hit – the one in 'Spirit of Scotland' tartan is our mascot. Any news about Misty Glen that you’d like to share with us? Our website has just been totally renewed and now includes an online shop. At the moment our best-selling ranges of jewellery, and our Loch Lomond Bears are available on it, but most ranges will be included soon. We also have a Facebook Shop, so it is exciting times with us embracing the technology. Do you have any good tips for what’s on trend for the summer season? The combination of leather and crystal jewellery has been amazingly popular this summer, and I think it will continue into the autumn and winter – it's super as it goes well with casual clothes but, with being sparkly, it looks good with more dressy clothes too. Many thanks to Owner Sue Black for taking the time to chat with us. Visit Misty Glen at Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch, from 10am-6pm daily (10am - 5pm in Jan/Feb) Visit www.mistyglen.co.uk for the Online Shop or follow on Facebook or Twitter.