Alteration franchise tailor-made for downturn
MAKE do and mend is proving a useful motto for some retailers who are cashing in on our gloomy economic forecast.
One clothes alteration service, which was set up just two years ago, now has 10 outlets around the country -- and it has plans for further expansion.
The Zip Yard franchise owner Don Wallace said he now aims to open 25 clothes repair outlets within the next three years to take advantage of thrifty shoppers who are repairing and altering clothes rather than buying new garments.
The Limerick businessman said his franchise business providing signage and nametags for the hotel and construction industry was badly hit by the downturn, so he had to come up with a plan B.
He decided that clothes repairs would be a good option and has now opened a string of profitable premises.
"We decided to offer a modern high-street take on it, getting away from the dingy premises up a flight of rickety stairs image," Mr Wallace said.
Juliette O'Connell, who won the Ulster Bank Franchise of the Year award for her Zip Yard outlet in Dun Laoghaire, said business was split 50-50 between men and women, ranging from hemming and taking in to complete restyling of treasured old garments.
"We get people bringing in 'Miami Vice'-style blazers from the 1980s that they want remade, or dresses that are way too long that they want a foot off to make them fashionable again," she said.
Shoe repairs, however, are not seeing the same boost, according to Tom Dwyer of The Cobbler Leather Shop, which has two outlets in Cork.
"Thirty years ago when we started we did nothing but repair shoes, but a lot of the modern ones you can't do anything with and girls just wear them a few times and throw them out. We've had to diversify into key-cutting, engraving and bag sales to survive," he said.