08 Apr 2019

Behind the Scenes: An Interview with Mr Miles

Mr Miles, a tearoom based in Taunton, opened their doors at the beginning of the recession, nine years ago. They were originally solely trading as a café, but they quickly realised the importance of offering a full buying experience. A year after they opened, they expanded into retail, and they’ve been coming to both Spring and Autumn Fair ever since.

Collin Barrell, Founder of Mr Miles, Taunton, previously owned a McDonalds franchise that was coming to the end of its terms. He sought to do something different, but wasn’t entirely sure where that would take him. A conversation with a local lady sparked an idea, and Mr Miles came to life. Colin explained, “I tried to offer something different from all the international chains of cafes. I wanted to do table service, and have everything freshly cooked. The retail side grew from the customer’s enquiries. We stocked a few lines to start with, but it quickly became obvious to us that there was a lot of business still to come.”

buying experience

There’s a lot of talk about the decline of the high street, but Mr Miles’ sales are only growing. Colin puts their success down to the personal experience they offer, “We give our customers an experience when they come to eat and drink. Once our customers have eaten, and they’re refreshed, they amble around the shop. It also works the other way, we’ve got huge display windows filled with our products. People walking up and down the road may come in for a retail purpose, but once they’re in, they end up having a cup of tea and a piece of cake. The retail and the catering side feed off each other.”

Mr Miles, Taunton, stocks anything and everything that sits at your table during teatime, “We stock everything to do with tea and coffee, from fine bone china teacups to coffee machines. We do have a big range but there’s always room to expand, so it’s all about listening to what our customers want and not just reacting to it, but reacting to it quickly.”, Colin said.

mr miles

Mr Miles, Taunton, has  found some of their biggest sellers at Spring and Autumn Fair. He sources from both big and small brands, “Dunoon and Churchill are really big sellers for us, they have big ranges. There are smaller exhibitors that we also get products from like Two Bad Mice, they do mugs and greeting cards. They only have a small stand at the show, but actually, we do a lot of business with them.”

“Just like our consumers come in store to touch and feel the products, we like to go to Spring and Autumn Fair to do the same. Once we discover what products our consumers are looking for, we do our research online and find suppliers that will be exhibiting at the shows. Colin uses the fairs to talk to old suppliers and find new ones, “The exciting bit is seeing who else is coming along to refresh the offering in the shop, it’s always nice to offer something else to the customers.”

gift retailer

While the main reason Colin comes to Spring and Autumn Fair is to source new products, it’s not the only one, “Knowledge is power in this game, if you don’t make the effort to go to trade shows you might miss a trick, you might not latch onto a new trend that’s coming in. A lot of our competitors that don’t go to trade shows don’t refresh their products, we try new things and take risks. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong, but more often than not, we get it right.”

Looking to meet retailers like Mr Miles? Exhibit at Autumn Fair and start networking with the top people in the retail industry. Alternatively, you can visit Autumn Fair and source products for your retail store. 

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