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contact was invaluable in helping us to comply with products standards, but otherwise, no.


Were there any times when you thought that it was all too hard? Liz: Oh yes, often! With two young children and a mortgage that seemed to increase monthly, working very long hours was tough. Peter: Yes. Especially in the winter when we went to craft fairs and had to unload and load the car in the rain and snow! Sometimes coming home with very little takings


How did your son Sam and Tom become involved in the family business? Liz: Actually, it started the minute they were capable of testing the product! Sam knew from an early age that he wanted to become involved, Tom needed to experience university life before he committed to a decision. Peter: The boys were with us at fairs


and later at agricultural shows.They always helped put up the tents we used or helped deck out our mobile trailer shop. They would also help out serving customers when we were busy.


Are there any other family members involved? Liz: Sam's fi ancé, Imogen is very much part of the business and our almost two-year-old grandson, Arthur, is yet to tell us his decision on joining the business.


Peter: Arthur is,


of course, already employed as our chief in-house toy tester!


What are the advantages of being a family run business? Liz: We are a strong family


unit and it is the family that runs the business on


a day-to-day level – we are all there making decisions on a daily basis.


–we are all ther


What are the disadvantages? Liz: The business can be very consuming. There are always options to consider and decision to be made – we have to remind ourselves to keep that process at work and not allow it to infi ltrate home life too much.


What are your current staffi ng levels?


Liz: Outside of the family we employ 18, then top up with short-term contract employees at peak times.


What’s been the funniest thing that has happened at Bigjigs? Liz: We have an offi ce dog called Archie, and from time to time he likes to wonder around (and sometimes escapes!) We received a call one day from our Sainsbury’s to say that they found him wandering around the shop (obviously browsing to see


were capable of testing the product! Sam knew from an early age that he wanted to become involved, Tom needed to experience university life before he committed to a decision.





what he wanted to eat that night). Customer services gave us a call to say they had found him. We thought it was hilarious, but was also glad he was safe as Sainsbury’s is quite a way!


It started the minute they


Which companies do you look up to and hope you to emulate? Liz: Levels of service are what we prefer to look at, and when we were awarded Independent Retailers Best Supplier Award at the end of 2011 we knew we were a preferred choice and therefore getting it right.


What are your plans for the future? Liz: To continue doing a good job and supporting the independent retail sector – in products, price, quality and service.


What advice would you give to other families starting out in business? Liz: Stick with it – the challenges are enormous and the rewards are not always as swift in coming as you might like, but the satisfaction of having achieved something together is great!


43 Family Business





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