Fresh approach to Hamilton retail is a knockout
As a former Caribbean and Bermuda super heavyweight boxing champion, Sharrieff Wales knows a knockout when he sees one – and the new store he has opened with his wife, Jane, surely qualifies.
Fresh, at 28 Queen Street in Hamilton, carries 200 products, all of which are priced between two and six dollars.
On Wednesday, the shop’s second full day of operation, seven shoppers were waiting outside the door when it opened.
Five minutes later, some 20 people were browsing the aisles at the former location of Leisure Time.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” a grateful Mr Wales said. “Tuesday was our first full day and we think we are going to do well.”
He said the reaction from consumers had been “beyond positive”.
Ms Wales, an accountant, said the reaction has been “overwhelming”.
“On Saturday, we were still setting up … not quite ready to open, and people were still rattling our door saying ‘we want to come and shop’.”
She said one person said they had not been to town in a while and asked if another shop was closing.
Ms Wales replied: “No, opening up.”
Fresh started with four staff in addition to the owners but already more employees are required to handle the workload.
The store carries a wide variety of goods, including kitchenware, USB cables, wireless ear buds, hurricane supplies, candies, birthday cards, flip flops, children’s toys – and much, much more, including name brand items.
Mr Wales says: “Ultimately, we will have in the range of 500 products. We’re not quite there yet – we’re around 200.
“We wanted to see how we do before we went in that deep.”
The couple have a Canadian partner, Carey MacLellan, who has owned similar shops in Barbados and has relationships with suppliers.
Mr Wales said it was an approach from Mr MacLellan “out of the blue” that introduced them to the store concept.
The entrepreneurs are not retail newcomers; they have operated three Champ’s Variety outlets since 2018.
Mr Wales said: “I have always looked for a way to make prices cheaper in my stores and still make money.”
The couple said high unemployment, rising inflation and the increasing cost of food meant Bermudians did not have the disposable income they once had.
Mr Wales said: “The main idea of the store is that people can shop and get a lot of stuff they need not only at a reasonable price, but a fair price.”
He said the shop had “good quality products … at a price that Bermudians can afford. Bermudians need that”.
Mr Wales added: “We thought it would do well. We realised Bermudians needed a little bit of happiness, a bit of ‘people are listening to our needs’.”
Ms Wales said the product mix going forward would reflect “seasonal cycles”.
The store is open Monday to Saturday from 10am until 6pm, but Mr Wales said the opening hours were “fluid” while they try to gauge what the best times are.