Meet the Seller: Out of the Woods

01 November 2016

Hollie Cichan-Bali takes great care in listening to what her customers want, finding quality children's clothing that is traditional, practical and lovely to wear. We paid a visit to Out of the Woods in New Market Hall, Louth, to meet the seller.

How did Out of the Woods begin?
My family have always been involved in future, so originally I had a furniture business and alongside that, as an everyday seller, I put some wooden toys in. Then a lady approached me with some handmade dresses and I thought they were really lovely, so I put them out with the toy section. They seemed to be what the town wanted so all of a sudden I turned into a children's toy shop, and then clothes became popular. My lease came to an end at my old shop so it gave me an opportunity to change and give the town what it wants. There's no point in having a business if it's not what the town needs or wants, and there seemed to be a gap in the market for children's wear, so that's how I ended up doing what I'm doing. That was three years ago now.

And tell us a bit about the clothes that you stock.
Well there's everyday clothes and some special pieces, I try and make it so that there's things for everybody. I do try and keep in with high street prices, my most expensive dress is £22.99, my rain macs are £24.99, which are my most expensive items of clothing. I'm away from the designer end but more in the middle with unique, difference and quality.

How do you pick what clothing you sell?
With Prince George and Princess Charlotte being born, a lot of the traditional pieces are already coming back. I personally like traditional style clothes; I think children should be children for as long as possible, they have plenty of time to be adults and to dress as adults.
A lot of the pieces are made in Britain and are organic cotton, very eco friendly. Again, listening to my customers and listening to what they want, what they don't want, what they like, what they don't like. I'm always looking for something unique.

What do you look for in your suppliers?
Finding suppliers is hard work, and I tend to go to companies that are exclusive so we don't end up with three shops in Louth all selling the same thing. As soon as I've found one new company, I'm looking for the next to keep it different. It's only a small shop so I like to get new things all the time, try new companies and see what the town likes and wants.

What are your best sellers?
My best sellers are my rain macs, and they have been through the summer which has really surprised me! We have lovely pink pony ones for girls and another that's The Owl and the Pussycat so that's very cute. The boys are tractor mad, tractors and dinosaurs. But being in the area that we're in, if I can find something with a tractor on, it's coming in! My tractor jumpers are really popular, and for the girls a lot of people come in for the traditional style dresses because everyone is looking for something unique, they don't want what everyone else has got.

Tell us a bit about your shop.
Because the clothes and the toys are so colourful, the shop needs a white background so each item can pop on its own, and I don't like it too jumbled either as it's easy to miss things. Quite fresh but still a lot of colour from all the clothes. I like to do things a little bit different so I look for new ideas for my window displays. I'm already planning Christmas (and I love Christmas!)
I look far and wide for things too, like my little car in the window display. They are something that unfortunately we don't make in England so they come from Germany, it's very traditional but with a modern twist, and that's what I like to say about my shop.

And what is a typical day like for you?
Well, it depends what type of children I have in the shop for a start! Children do generally set the scene when parents are trying to look. Throughout the summer holidays, you do have to think of different things for the kids so that the parents can have that opportunity to look around. When I have got a lovely family coming in, it's like a sweet shop to the children because everything they see they can touch, so we have a little table set up for them so they can play with puzzles and games or some building blocks, try and distract them a little bit so the parents can have a look around.
And I have things like the hidden mice. I have a few hidden round the skirting boards and up the table, children can go around looking for them and counting them, but generally I'm just here to help people. I get people who come in and don't quite know what they're looking for, sometimes for a Christening or a new born and that's where I really like to get involved because I know my stock inside out. I like to be able to help people find the right thing. If I don't stock something, I will try and find it and keep everybody happy. And then just paperwork, the usual paperwork!

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