A Hale lingerie shop celebrates 25 years in business this week – and puts its success down to the customer service that has won it a loyal band of customers.
See-Saw Lingerie has been a fixture of the high street in Hale village since 1991 and will mark its quarter-century this week with a special celebration for customers.
The shop had previously been a traditional corsetiere shop for nearly 50 years but after a major refurbishment Penny English, and her sister Sally, opened selling bespoke bridal wear and new brands of lingerie including Marie Jo, which is still one of their most popular brands.
Penny said: “The experience of selling beautiful wedding gowns and making sure that the undergarments fitted perfectly soon made us realise that the majority of our customers were wearing the wrong size bra. This prompted a change in direction and a few years later we introduced swimwear and nightwear to replace the bridal wear, as well as increasing the lingerie side of the business, and we have never looked back!”
She added: “Over the years we have built on an initial stable of brands; in November 2012 the shop was chosen to be the first independent retailer to stock the new brand ‘Kinky Knickers’ introduced by Mary Portas, and in 2015 the shop was chosen to be the only independent retailer in the North to stock the debut Simone Perele swimwear collection.”
Now 25 years on the shop has gone from strength to strength and stocks prestigious and good quality brands including Chantelle, Seafolly, Empreinte, Anita, Maryan Mehlhorn, Maison Lejaby, Gottex, Marie Jo, Fantasie, Roidal and Simone Perele.
And as the shop marks its milestone this week, Penny paid tribute to the customers that have ensured See-Saw’s longevity through thick and thin.
“It’s our customers that have kept us going through recessions and downturns,” she said. “Without them we wouldn’t still be here.
“But it works both ways – you attract more customers because you give something in return. It’s all very well buying something on the internet, but there’s nothing like going and seeing a beautiful product, choosing it and trying it, and getting somebody who knows what they are talking about.”
It’s See-Saw’s highly personalised customer service that has allowed it to withstand the emergence of online shopping, something more and more customers evidently now appreciate.
“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and See-Saw continues to be a destination shop for a wonderfully loyal customer base.” Penny added. “We’re also now seeing an increase in new customers who want the personal service we are well known for; good, honest and professional service, quality products in a caring friendly atmosphere. Our business is all about helping people look and feel their very best; we want our customers to feel amazing when they leave the store.”
See-Saw’s mission is to make shopping for beautiful lingerie and swimwear a hassle-free and enjoyable experience, and their knowledgeable and friendly staff make sure that customers are well looked after.
Staff, for example, have access to a customers’ full buying history allowing them to deliver exceptional customer service based on an intimate knowledge of their needs.
It was this level of service that last year saw Penny asked to assist journalist Angela Epstein with a Daily Mail feature on the effect of breast reducing creams, and for a second successive year, See-Saw is a finalist in the Personal Touch category at the Stars Best Shop Awards 2016.
See-Saw also takes its role in the Hale business community seriously. It has an events programme in place for its chosen charity, Prevent Breast Cancer (previously Genesis), and next month will help with a fundraising initiative called ‘Paint Hale Pink’.
It’s also actively involved in the Hale Business Association and last year led a campaign to raise £7,500 for the village’s Christmas lights.
“What is so lovely about having a business within a village is that you are part of the community, and your customers become friends. You can’t beat that,” said Penny.
As it embarks on the next chapter, Penny and her staff are determined to stick to the values that keep customers coming back for years, and in some cases, decades.
And to help Penny take a step back from the business and embark on a new adventure, she has handed the management reins over to her friend and colleague Johanna Bolhoven. Johanna, a fashion writer, personal shopper and stylist, said: “I’m delighted to help continue the great work Penny and her team are doing, and I regularly talk to my clients about the importance of well-fitting lingerie.”
So if you’re in Hale on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week, pop in to See-Saw, raise a glass of birthday bubbles and help the team toast 25 years.
See-Saw Lingerie, 186 Ashley Rd, Hale, Altrincham WA15 9SF. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 5.30pm