Walking through the side entrance of Kingswood Caravan and Camping Centre to the pleasant soundscape of the owners’ birds, the first sight is the abundance of sweets on offer for the children when they arrive and the young girl who is talking with general manager, Kay Ralph, about struggling to take out pegs while camping.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Kay explains. “The customers make it.”
Kay started working at the shop 34 years ago as a cleaner, just one year after it was taken over by current managing director, Richard Evans. She explains that she wanted the job because it was in school hours and it was just over the road from her house, but now she will work whenever she can and loves it.
The shop has grown with her, becoming a very successful camping shop filled with every piece of equipment and gadget a camper would want, from portable showers to barbecues to shampoo.
They pride themselves in being Bristol’s largest stock of camping gas and they “never run out of gas” boasts Kay.
After 11 years of successful experience in the retail trade, current managing director Richard Evans wanted to start his own business, opening the shop 30 years ago.
Richard and Kay both find that selling caravans can allow families to “socially bond, especially now with social networking as young people are not as involved with their parents”.
Both Richard and Kay agree that selling caravans is their favourite part of the job because they get to sit in a caravan for an hour with coffee and biscuits and talk with customers about their lives. “People know they will get what they want,’ Kay says.
Workers here are very efficient, kind and the stock is always full. The internet on the other hand can be “misleading” and has affected their business in the past as customers increasingly turned to internet shopping for convenience.
However, their shop is still doing well and they have adapted to recent changes in shopping habits. Kay and Richard have a positive mindset, and know that although the internet can affect their business, they have loyal customers and because of their friendly, helpful and caring approach to sales, they will strife through to many more years of business.
Kingswood Caravan and Camping centre, 137-145 High Street, Kingswood, Bristol, BS15 4AQ
Read more: Shop of the week: Piglets Vintage