From Edinburgh to Cornwall and everywhere in between, wherever I've spoken to customers at shows and events over the years, I've been asked this question time and again: "When are you going to open a store in [insert a place name]?"
Every time it happens, I have two equal and opposite reactions. Of course, it's an incredible compliment to be asked to open a store anywhere – for a retailer, that's an even more sincere form of flattery than imitation. On the other hand, whenever we have no plans, I always hate to deflate that goodwill so it frustrates me as much as the person asking when I have to say something enigmatic like 'well, you never know'...
The truth is it's a massively difficult undertaking for us to find the right building, in the right area, with the right costs, with the right planning conditions etc. etc. etc. When we've done it in the past, we've been able to get everything right and of course, it's hugely beneficial to us. We love being a part of the equestrian communities of Hampshire, Staffordshire and Glamorgan, as well as in our 'home' in the North West - and we'd love to add to that list.
This time we're asking for your help – and I'm delighted to say we've already had plenty of it! In early June, we posted this very question on our Facebook page and within 24 hours, it attracted over a thousand responses! Yet more people sent their suggestions to us via twitter and by email. I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to share their view – even the mischievous ones like 'Australia' and, my own favourite, 'Wigan'. I hope you were being ironic, Roxanne! J
As you might imagine, some areas seem to be suggested more often than others. Unfortunately, it may not be as simple as just pitching up in the area that is suggested the most often – we still have to go through the rather bothersome process of finding a site that suits our requirements. It does however mean that we start our searches in the places we're more convinced will prove to be successful.
I'm also conscious of the 'monster' of expectation we might have unleashed by doing this. Again, we're hugely grateful to have so much goodwill and interest that are behind any further questions like 'so go on then, where is it?' – believe me, they've already started. I'm not sure how quickly we'll be able to confirm anything and I'm quite sure that even when we are, the area we choose will only be good news to a small proportion of the country. Either way, all I can ask is that you don't lose patience with us. We'd like to start looking for another store location as soon as we've decided the next one!
So far, almost two thousand people have given their answer to 'that' question and between them, those answers cover almost the whole country. Believe me - and I'm not at all being enigmatic when I say this - that's exactly what we want to do as well!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned to our Facebook page to find out the very latest on our search for the fifth Robinsons store!