TGt Meets... Lee Mulholland
To celebrate the Brunel's Independent Retailer Month, we've been chatting with Lee Mulholland, owner of independent gift shop Something Different.
Describe your business in one sentence…
Traditionally authentic, whilst being dynamically different.
Where is home and why?
Swindon, not only is it the grass roots for my business, it has been my stomping ground for over 28 years and many more yet to come.
Why do you think it is important to have a month celebrating Swindon’s Independent Retailers?
Independents are what drive people out shopping. Anyone can go to “Poundland” or “Costa” in any town, every person on this planet is unique so the shopping experience should match that. Chains only bring uniformity.
What inspired you to set up your business in Swindon?
Honestly, to make a difference. Having over 12 years retail experience, sales & management, you are always confined to “Head Office’s” rules & regulations. As per my previous answer everyone is different, so ultimately a one size fits all policy regarding customer service only has a limited lifespan before people become bored.
What have been your key challenges and how have you overcome them?
Where do I start!
One of the biggest challenges to date was the impending closure of the market, trying to grow and establish a business in a premises that has very uncertain future was a big hurdle to overcome.
What do you think attracts people to Swindon?
Independents & heritage. Simple. Independents having much faster stock turnover so have new products consistently. Plus the fact that it is livelihood for a family or small group of people, customer service is much greater because that’s how business grows. Great word of mouth is the best kind of advertising.
How do you like to spend your time off?
What time off!! This business is more than a day job for me, it is my passion. After the doors have closed, the brain never stops ticking, whether its searching for new stock, new layouts for the store or just the never ending search for the greatest gift, it never stops.
Where is your favourite place to eat in Swindon?
Home’s always a winner, but Egg-E-Licious is pretty damn good.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Aside opening and growing a business, I achieved a black belt at the age of 12.
Describe Swindon in 3 words…
Pride, Heritage, Potential