Sunday, 26 May 2019 09:19

Barnet gift shop scoops up top prize

Written by
Louise Rolfe with her award for the independent gift retailer of the year for shops inside the M25 motorway. Louise Rolfe with her award for the independent gift retailer of the year for shops inside the M25 motorway.
After 18 years of hard graft building up custom for her Barnet High Street gift shop, former actress Louise Rolfe has won a top accolade for highly rated independent retailers.

The Present, the shop she opened in 2001 at the Hadley Green end of the High Street, has been named the 2019 London area independent gift retailer of the year by Progressive Gift and Home Magazine.

Nominations are judged on customer support and recommendations and the strength and impact of an online presence.

The aim of the award is to “recognise and reward the UK’s very best gift retailers from right across the retail spectrum”.

“I have been so touched by all the congratulations I have received from customers. It is a tremendous feeling to think my shop is so appreciated and that the Present has been rated the top gift shop inside the M25,” said Ms Rolfe, who as proprietor is supported by her shop manager, Louise Franco.

When Ms Rolfe opened the shop in 2001, in what had formerly been the Gorrod photographic studio, she was in at a quiet time in her acting career.

“I had always wanted to run a gift shop and I loved it so much, my passion for acting began to take a back seat.

“I still do voice overs – most recently for Transport for London – but my passion now is finding new ways to ensure that my customers get the best possible experience when shopping at the Present.”

When Ms Rolfe started in business, she sold some furniture and larger furnishing items, but over the years her offer has become more eclectic, a mix of gifts and small furnishings rather than home accessories or one-off large purchases.

“I have been rewarded with a very loyal and supportive band of customers and as every trader knows, High Streets have been shrinking so we all have to work harder to keep our customers.

“I don’t advertise much but I do use social media and want to build my trade on word of mouth.

“What I have learned is that you have to make sure your door is always open, and you offer a good customer experience. Here there is soft music, candles and the aim is to encourage customers to feel relaxed and look around.

“Barnet does have some fantastic independent shops. They are all worth a visit, and the High Street is more attractive than ever now that the heraldic banners are up for the medieval festival. They look fantastic.”

1 comment

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 26 June 2019 21:11 posted by Kathy Gilbert

    Warmest congratulations Louise, a well deserved award! Your staff are really helpful and attentive but never intrusive, and it is a relaxing and fascinating place to do a little bit of extra special shopping.
    All the best for the future.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published
All comments are moderated so there is a delay before you see them on the site
The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Barnet Society