Ron Campion, The Interiors Store, based in Brixham, is 50 years old this year but the store has hardly had time to celebrate, as it’s been as busy as ever. With the business growing well, it’s also been steadily refurbishing its showrooms and has done much to move the business online. Ron Campion has been running the store for more than 30 years. His father started it with a small showroom (on the site it still occupies to this day) on July 9th 1965. Then it was called E. Campion (his father was called Elbirt but was also known as Ron), later changing its name to E. Campion & Son and now, after a rebrand earlier this year is known simply as Ron Campion, The Interiors Store.
Ron started in the business straight from school in 1970, initially as a carpet fitter and delivery driver, before moving onto the ‘shop floor’ in 1975. Following the unexpected early death of his father later that year aged only 56 years, Ron took over the business, for a few years running it with his mother, and then for the past 35 years by himself. The business was rebranded The Interiors Store to better reflect its expanded range of products, which now encompass most elements of furniture and furnishings – e.g. carpets, wood flooring, beds, bedroom furniture, dining furniture, upholstery (sofas and chairs) and, now bed linen, mirrors, pictures, lighting etc. Although the business has expanded laterally and vertically on its Bolton Street site, its available product range cannot all be displayed. Hence the importance of its website www.roncampion.co.uk on which are listed the full range of products available as well the facility to browse the relevant brochures from the store’s main suppliers.
Ron and his team encourage a customer to browse the website but then phone or visit the store so that they can be offered the appropriate product advice which will ensure they choose the item that best suits their needs. Ron says, “we are often surprised by how many potential customers will go first to our site and then call us to discuss their requirements in more detail. With our many years of experience of this industry, we can pretty much answer most questions and pride ourselves on how many of these calls we then
convert to actual paying customers. This type of service and trust is of particular value to someone who lives at a distance, perhaps is moving into the area, or has a holiday home here or is possibly purchasing on behalf of their elderly parents who live in the area. They are frequently surprised by what we can offer.”
Brixham and other parts of South Devon can be physically challenging – either because access for deliveries is awkward or it’s not easy for larger furniture items to negotiate difficult access with in the properties themselves. Ron’s team will often visit a customer’s home to measure up to see what furniture will best fit and ensure delivery works efficiently. “We’ve seen plenty of examples of goods being bought online;’ says Ron, “and then left on the garden path because the delivery guy can’t or won’t overcome any difficult obstacles:’ Ron Campion’s is the only major interiors store in Brixham. But with basically one main road in and one road out, the shop doesn’t get as much passing traffic as it normally would in other towns. Despite this, it successfully attracts customers from all over South Devon, which it does by focusing on providing value for money and an above average attention to customer service.
Ron says; “When its real value you’re looking for, we offer the very best product for you at a competitive price with efficient delivery and the best back up service available. We believe that increasingly, people like to buy locally, want to be sure it will be delivered when they are there and have someone to talk to after their purchase should there be any problems. They like to see a face behind a name and have trust in our knowledge and skill. Buying over the internet can sometimes be too impersonal. Customers want to be confident that something they have bought will actually provide them with what they need.’
That said, Ron is still very keen on exploiting the internet to its full off the back of the business’s excellent local reputation. A new sister website www.roncampiononline.co.uk was launched last month to allow customers to buy online. For the moment, the site offers mostly bed linen. As Ron explains, “we can’t easily fulfil the delivery of large items of furniture from the web to far flung parts of the UK but we can do so with such smaller items. We are treading along this path cautiously for the moment but we hope it will provide added value to current and new customers.
The fact that Ron and his team will go the extra mile is illustrated by a part of their business that is showing strong growth amongst the area’s more elderly demographic i.e. sales of the ‘lift and rise” chairs. Ron explains; “these chairs have for a long time been sold at ridiculously inflated prices often by high pressure salesmen. We’ve a large choice of such chairs at great prices, significantly less than £1,000, and can even custom fit them to a client’s specific needs. We sell chairs ranging in size from petite to large and will often arrange a home demonstration to which we will take along two or three alternative chairs so the customer can choose what’s right for them without even having to leave their own home:’
Despite being in the business for more than 40 years, Ron Campion’s enthusiasm and energy for it remains undiminished. “I have a few more years left in me:’ His outlook for the business is matched by his confidence that, at long last, Brixham is also seeing the regeneration it deserves with new investment in the town, its restaurants and its shops. “I am determined that Ron Campion, The Interiors Store, will play its part in driving this forward:’
Original story by Mark Simpson in the August 2015 edition of the TQ magazine. Reproduced by kind permission of author/publisher.