A few weeks ago I received an email from Calendar Club (CC) asking Barry and I to be members of their Retail Advisory Board (RAB). This entails CC sharing feedback and future plans with a select group picked from their ‘best performing’ Operators, who give their thoughts from ‘the shop floor’. It would mean travelling to CC HQ in Exeter, where we’d visited in January 2018 .
We umm-ed and ah-ed a little before making a decision. Having already booked a three night stay at a Youth Hostel near Snowdon in North Wales the same week, the first night clashed with the initial second night of the RAB. Also, due to a variety of personal factors, we hadn’t decided whether to apply for a CC outlet this year, so we weren’t sure if our contributions would be relevant.
We were immensely humbled to be chosen though, and decided to make it happen and say ‘yes’. Over the time we’ve been a small part of this fascinating company, we’ve seen it adapting and changing, and mostly loved the concept of working as Operators. To be given this chance to be able to give back we felt was a gift not to be turned down.
As it eventuated the meeting dates were brought forward by a day, so we wouldn’t have to miss our first night at the YHA.
Sharing Ideas to Support Ways Forward
There were just eight Operators in the RAB, out of around 270 2018/19 season CC outlets. It will come as no surprise to you that one of the main reasons we were chosen was for our ability to share our thoughts in what worked for us, and what we felt could be improved. Hats off to CC for welcoming such interactions warmly.
To our great (and delighted) surprise, Helen and Gav had also been invited! Gavin and Barry by the second day were referred to by one of the Board as ‘Ant and Dec’! They certainly make a comedic duo and kept the room amused frequently in between the seriousness of planning ways to continue CC thriving in the current precarious retail environment. There’s some big names struggling in the UK.
The two nights of the RAB experience were spent in luxurious surroundings at The Devon Hotel, Exeter, and the days at CC HQ.
One of the Operators spotted a brilliant business outside the building – a Smart Car Coffee Shop called ‘smartacups‘! This definitely made my days better, I love my one good daily caffeine fix. It was excellent tasting coffee delivered by an extremely personable woman.
The 48 hours at Calendar Club HQ was a whirl of meetings, tours, presentations, meals and drinks almost exclusively focussed on CC. I’d hoped we’d find an hour or so to see my sister Viv who lives five minutes away but it wasn’t to be sadly, there wasn’t a minute ‘spare. Fair enough we felt, as all our expenses were paid for 😉
From Exeter on the afternoon of Wednesday 20th March, we drove north to our next destination. Little did we realise how far that would be after two totally packed days. Thankfully the next itinerary stop wasn’t so intense …