Monday 19 August 2019

Looking for a deal on Black Friday? This clothes store is selling gift vouchers which increase in value the older they get

Eamonn Cunningham
Eamonn Cunningham
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Looking for an actual deal in the Black Friday frenzy can sometimes be a difficult task - but this store is offering something unique for its customer base.

EJ (Essential Jeanswear) Menswear has always issued and honoured its gift vouchers with open end dates, and owner Eamonn Cunningham believes that set expiry dates are "theft".

"They never go out of date. Our view here at EJ’s is that it’s no better than theft to put an expiry on a gift voucher. A shop may as well take the cash out of your wallet," he told Independent.ie.

Recently, the Sligo town shop paid out on a 1999 gift voucher to teen Richie Mulligan (18), who received it from his grandmother, and he wasn't even born when it was first purchased.

"When Ronan came into the shop, we were only delighted to honour the voucher – his granny Noreen had spent her valuable money all those years ago and it’s only right she gets a return," said Eamonn.

"Once you have the customer's money, it's not fair to tell them that the voucher is out of date. In the good times, before the recession, people weren't too bothered with their vouchers, but in the last few years, a lot of the older vouchers have been turning up.

With pre-Christmas shopping season in swing, the innovative businessman has decided to push the value of the gift voucher even further - by applying 5pc annual interest on all vouchers bought from this month.

"We see a customer buying a voucher as someone making an investment in our business, taking a stake in us. In awarding them interest, we give them something back," said Eamonn.

"Not only for Christmas, but if you wanted to buy a voucher for a christening or a confirmation, you've invested in our business.

"Of course, 90pc of vouchers that are sold over the next month will be used but that other 10pc can be kept for years. If you buy a €100 gift voucher this year, it would be worth €115 in three years time. We're going to honour that deal - and we're going nowhere."

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Founded in 1994, EJ's has built up quite a dedicated client base nationally, with customers over the years including UFC fighter Conor McGregor, Westlife's Shane Filan (a former employee) and country singer Nathan Carter as well as a numbers of GAA and other sports stars.

Its strong social media personality and a €150,000 investment in the store's online shopping platform and website this year is helping the bricks and mortar business transform into a retail force to be reckoned with.

Just in time for Black Friday too, a day on which Eamonn's team will not only man their screens for orders online, but the doors of the former Bank of Ireland building in Grattan Street will be open for 24 hours.

"The doors open at midnight on Thursday and will stay open for 24 hours; every single item will have a 24pc price cut," said Eamonn.

"It will be busy until 3am before it starts dying down again but we'll always have someone dropping in. Last year, we had a postman from Donegal who came during the night!

"But there’ll be no fighting; all the online customers will have the same chance of landing the same Black Friday bargains as those who turn up at the shop."

Eamonn intends to adopt the 'personalised' shopping experience EJ's to its online store after the site and platform revamp, a project which was overseen by Newry-based Ryco Marketing (which built the Olympic merchandising website for Team GB).

"Becoming more visible on search engines is essential and this means we can present our offering to a larger market. We believe that ejmenswear.com can compete with the major players, but to do so investment was required," said Eamonn.

EJ's sells suits, jeans, casual wear, formal wear shoes, ties and accessories with brands such as Paul & Shark, Farah, Ted Baker, Barbour, Ralph Lauren, Lyle and Scott, Magee, Gant, Bugatti, G Star and Superdry.

In 2004, Cunningham scooped the Drapers Award for Best Independent Menswear Retailer of the Year in the UK and Ireland.

"We have become a one stop shop for everything a fashion forward man could want. Our new site will follow the same trend and over time we intend to further develop our online offering, making it a one-stop lifestyle destination where a man can go for all his fashion and daily essentials."

Online Editors

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