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Chris Painton of Serendip in Lyme Regis
Chris Painton of Serendip in Lyme Regis

Business Questions: Serendip

Describe your business in 140 characters or less
Serendip is a Treasure House of books, cards and gifts where traditional customer service is provided in a spacious and tranquil environment.

How long has it been going?
The bookshop has been here for 40 years. We bought it four-and-a-half years ago.

Are you a family business? If yes, what advantages and challenges does this bring?
As a married couple, we bounce ideas off each other and thoroughly enjoy working together. There is no down side.

What was your first-ever job?
I worked for Barclays Bank DCO [Dominion and Commonwealth Office], their overseas branch, in London. I moved into the computer centre in 1970 and became a computer operator. Bee also worked for the bank, in Bristol, though we didn’t meet until later

How did you come to be doing what you do now?
In 1999 we both took early retirement from Barclays and founded our own consultancy company. In 2004 I met Chris Scott, then owner of the Archway Bookshop in Axminster, and when he retired we bought the shop. We later bought Serendip as a second string, but have now reduced our workload by selling the Archway shop.

Serendip is a treasure house of books, cards and gifts

What are the biggest challenges of running a business in West Dorset?
Lyme is predominantly a visitor destination. You are appealing to impulse buyers and you have to look at different times of year, for example in August it’s families with school age children. We have to constantly adapt the stock and display. Greetings cards and gifts are significant.

And the benefits?
Footfall. We are in a prime retail location. And the Lyme Regis Business Group seeks to make the town as attractive a place to shop as possible.

Who has been your biggest influence?
Probably my wife. She has an eye for display and advertising, and she understands what people like.

Three key words to describe the way you do business?
Service, service, service.

Anything you would have done differently?
If we’d been able to take on Serendip earlier, we would have.

Best piece of advice to anyone setting up their own business?
Look very hard at the cost and potential income, the business case, and don’t be too optimistic.

In an ideal world, what will your business be doing in five years time?
We’ll still be selling books. They have a long-term future. But we’ll be diversifying a bit. We have to be relevant to the times and we are prepared to evolve.

Serendip Book Shop, Lyme Regis

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