HER name is Mary and she can be quite contrary – but when retail guru Mary Portas gives you business advice you just have to take it.
And that is what happened in the case of Kara Chapman, owner of The Whistle Stop Sweet Shop in Rotherham.
The shop opened on the corner of the High Street in October 2010, but it was not until a visit by Ms Portas that the owner thought about getting a website – and Kara says she has seen a difference in trade since its launch.
She said: “I think the website has given people confidence in us as a business.
“They find us online and then come down to see the shop.
“We have more than 600 individual jars of sweets, but it is our special gift packs people look for online.
“We specialise in unusual gifts and when people come in the shop their faces glow at what they see on offer.
“The next stage of growth for the company will be when it moves next door to take over a unit twice the size of its exiting one.
“The new space will be used to house an expanded sweet shop, a sweet manufacturing area and a Temperance Bar, where customers can enjoy sarsaparilla and other special cordials.
“Over the past two years we have constantly been asked by our customers to find and stock sarsaparilla, as they remembered Rotherham’s three sarsaparilla bars.
Funding from UK Steel Enterprise’s Kickstart Fund allowed the shop to launch its e-commerce website.
The Kickstart Fund is a business finance scheme which offers grants of up to £500 to start-up businesses to purchase essential equipment and or services that can get them trading.
Allan Wood, of UK Steel Enterprise, praised The Whistle Stop Sweet Shop.
He said: “It is very customer-focused and with the combination of retail and manufacturing, I can see this truly niche business going places in the future.”