Blogging off

September 9, 2008 by

This is the last Somerwood blog, at least for a while.

 

Thanks to all of you who have followed the blog week by week for the past eighteen months or so.

 

Goodbye from Leah, Graham and Lara.

The tradition of hand-carved walking sticks

September 2, 2008 by

I was fascinated to watch the BBC Television programme “Who Do You Think You Are?” on Patsy Kensit as it turns out she is descended from a family of walking stick makers.  The family ran a business in London in the middle of the nineteenth century crafting their own walking canes and sticks.

 

It’s a tradition that we have tried to keep alive in a small way.  On our website, in addition to the kinds of everyday walking sticks that are generally available, we also sell hand-carved walking sticks.  Our supplier lives in Turkey and uses Cornelian cherry wood to craft individual, distinctive sticks.

 

It does seem important to encourage traditional cottage industries like this.  Fortunately, many of our customers think so too, and we sell a small but steady number via the website.

When in Wales . . .

August 27, 2008 by

Graham and I have been taking a short summer break in Wales and left the business in the safe hands of our assistants.  As someone who is Welsh by origin but has spent most of her life in England, I really enjoy visiting Wales, and we hope some day to retire there.

 

That of course is why we proudly include our hiking sticks with the Welsh Dragon design in the range of walking sticks on our website.  You don’t have to be out walking in Wales to use one, of course, but that’s where they’re most at home!

 

We managed to fit in some walking during our break, and needless to say we made full use of our Welsh Dragon hiking sticks.

Walking in Germany

August 19, 2008 by

Julie and Richard, who administer our website, have just come back from a few days in Germany.  They stayed in a small village in the Mosel valley, and said it’s a very pleasant part of the world: an attractive river valley with green, vine-covered hills rising above each side.

 

It seems it’s also good walking country – either along the valley or, if you’re feeling more active, up into the hills.  Julie told us she’s seen various people out with their trekking poles and their hiking sticks and their stout walking boots.

 

I was immediately interested because our business is selling walking aids – including walking sticks and sticks for walkers.  In fact at one time we ran a German version of our website.  We still have some loyal German customers – so Julie and Richard may well have seen some of our walking sticks in use in the Mosel valley.

Illuminating the way

August 13, 2008 by

We’re really thrilled this week because we’ve at last made our Somerwood VizCane available to customers via our website.  It seems to have taken so long from when we first devised the idea of the VizCane through to actually getting the product to market.  But now it’s happened and we’re over the moon!

 

The VizCane is an illuminated blind cane or white stick.  The idea is that it looks white during the daylight, like a standard blind cane, but shines with a bright, white light during the darkness, or whenever the lighting is poor.  It’s a fairly simple idea, but deciding on the appropriate technology and getting the product manufactured have taken time and effort.  And there’s still more to do: for instance we want to produce the stick in different heights.

 

But it’s all been worth while.  And if you want to see what all the fuss is about, well of course it’s now on the website!

Never mind if it’s muggy – enjoy the sun

July 30, 2008 by

It’s been a hot, sticky week with high temperatures and uncomfortably high levels of humidity.  Clammy, muggy, oppressive, sultry . . . the adjectives are almost endless. 

 

One of the strange things about this kind of weather is that, on the one hand you want to get out in the sun, but on the other hand that can make you feel just too hot – and then you crave the relative cool of indoors.

 

We wondered how this might affect sales of walking sticks, which of course are all to do with getting out and making the most of good weather.  We’re in the right position to judge because we sell walking aids (such as walking sticks, hiking sticks and trekking poles) mainly through our website.

 

Well, people seem as interested in walking sticks as ever.  That’s obviously good news for the website and for us personally, but it also means people are doing their best to enjoy the weather – and not allowing a little inconvenience like humidity to spoil their summer.

The only way to test a walking stick

July 22, 2008 by

I may have mentioned Lara in a previous blog.  She is our additional helper at Somerwood, though since she’s a dog you won’t see her name mentioned on the website. 

She has a variety of duties, like making sure any new type of walking stick we sell on the website is properly tested before we market it.  This necessitates Lara escorting us round the village.  The best way to test a walking stick, after all, is to take it for a walk.  

At this time of year, especially when the weather is dry and sunny, we don’t need much persuading.  In fact, Lara seems to think she should take us for a walk even if there are no new walking sticks to try out.

 

 

 

LARA

LARA

Not a walking stick in sight

July 15, 2008 by

This weekend we attended our local Village Day, which is held every summer in the village where we live.  It’s always a super event, but somehow it seemed especially good this year.  The wonderful weather helped, and there was a fabulous atmosphere.

 

Events like this where various local traders display their wares is of interest to us in a professional way too, as people often sell walking sticks, hiking sticks, trekking poles and the like.  The business we run sells walking aids – including walking sticks and sticks for walkers – mainly via our website.  So it’s always interesting to get an opportunity to check the opposition.

 

Well, there were no walking sticks in sight.  Great an event though our Village Day was, this was an occasion the opposition had shunned.  I must say that in many ways we felt quite relieved.  It meant we could enjoy the day to the full without having to compare our prices with other people’s or see what range of walking sticks someone else was selling. 

 

Yes, it was a great day!

Walking aids and good customer service

July 8, 2008 by

One of the best things about selling walking aids is the interaction with our customers.  Keeping our customers happy is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job.  I suppose we might achieve it by giving everything away free, but unfortunately we wouldn’t survive for long on that basis.  There is one thing however that we do try to give for free – and that’s good customer service.

 

Generally customer service seems to be pretty bad these days.  It almost seems as if the customer isn’t important enough to care about..  And all too often any service we do get is faceless.  Nobody answers your questions. If something foes wrong, nobody ever says they’re sorry.

 

At Somerwood.co.uk, even though we are selling through the relatively impersonal medium of a website, we try to treat each customer as though they were our only customer. If someone has a query, we attempt to answer it promptly and honestly.  Because we supply walking aids (such as walking sticks, hiking sticks, trekking poles, rollators, etc.) it’s very important we provide each customer with exactly what it is they need.  If for any reason we can’t, we quickly let them know so they can make other arrangements. 

  

There’s no reason, we believe, why every business should not take this approach to customer service.

Somerwood Garden Party went with a swing

July 2, 2008 by

In the Somerwood team we’ve just held our annual Garden Party.  It’s something we do each summer, and in effect it’s instead of a Christmas Party.  Luckily the weather was good and I think everyone had a really great time.

 

The business we’re in is selling walking aids such as walking sticks, hiking sticks, trekking poles and rollators, mainly through our website.  In a strange way it makes us very aware of the great outside, and often as we pack the walking canes we think of the open spaces where they’re going to be used.  So it’s nice once in a while for all of us to leave the website behind and get together in the open air and have a good time.

 

What’s more, midsummer seems to us like something worth celebrating!


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