The significance of knowing customers' wants + needs | An interview with Sally Hemming, co-owner + founder of Thyme & Tides Deli, Bistro + Fishmongers
Posted on 01 May 2016
Hi! and hello May! Time is truly flying!
This week’s blog is the second in a series of interviews with businesses and brands whom we admire.
This week we’re talking all things food with Sally Hemming, co-owner and founder of Thyme & Tides.
Thyme & Tides is a vibrant deli, bistro and fishmongers situated along the pretty high street town of Stockbridge, Hampshire, which opened in 2010. This unique concept was a fantastic addition to the Hampshire town and continues to be a much loved, positive destination and experience for locals and those further afield.
The ever evolving bistro offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, Friday night fish & chips (we recommend al fresco dinning in their courtyard during the summer months) and occasional, worldly inspired supper clubs.
The daily changing bistro menu is shaped with locally sourced, seasonal produce (always gets our tastebuds tingling!); the deli is vibrant with artisan delights and the fish counter is consistently stocked with a variety of fresh fish, direct from the Cornish coast.
This thriving high street hub is frequently bustling with cheery smiles and a constant array of mouth watering goodies to tempt regulars and passers-by back, again and again! It's so nice to have a buzzing community just on our doorstep which offers that customer service smile we all know and love!
Thyme & Tides is a stone’s throw from Hero shop meaning we’re never too far from sustenance and delicious treats from the likes of Hoxton Bakehouse and Ginger's Kitchen, but most importantly. . . our morning caffeine fix via Mozzo coffee to kickstart our day (along with the occasional pastry!).
Prior to opening Thyme & Tides, Sally dipped her toe in the water with a few forays, including that of owning and running a successful catering company.
How do you feel working in the catering industry, influenced your decision when setting up a new business? Had opening a Bistro/Deli/Fishmongers always been a dream of yours, or was there an influential moment when you suddenly thought, ‘it’s now or never?!’
Private catering in London was definitely a great way to test out my passion for food and to start my career but on a smaller scale. It enabled me to build the business and grow in confidence at my own pace. Opening a deli/bistro was something I had always thought would be a great way to continue within the food industry but to do it on a different / larger scale ... luckily it worked out!
When curating the selection of Deli produce on offer, how do you balance your
own creative vision with the day to day needs of Thyme & Tide’s customers’?
I think as a shop you have to recognise the needs and demands of your customers but also look to stock the luxuries and treats. We aren't trying to replace everyone's weekly shop but we do want to offer something a bit different. We are lucky to have so many fabulous suppliers who are really passionate about what they make and that comes through in the products we offer.
Thyme & Tide’s sister restaurant, Woodfire (Pizza Mezze) opened in 2014
and is a fantastic addition to Stockbridge High Street. What factors influenced
your decision to open a secondary business in a similar sector, down the road
from Thyme & Tides?
Thyme & Tides has been extremely busy since day 1. I will never forget the queue outside the door on our first day in July 2010! I think we felt there was room for another site in Stockbridge to serve great coffee and food as our bistro was so popular, with customers often saying to us 'you need a bigger shop!' Putting in the wood fired pizza oven was definitely a USP and something fun and different! It enabled us to offer a Mediterranean feel and the mezze sharing plates are hugely popular.... sociable food.... The best way to eat.
We love Thyme & Tide’s ‘new look’ and latest additions ~ tell us about the
thought process behind your commitment to introduce new products.
Thank you! We're really pleased with the refit and new layout - customers have been extremely complimentary which is great to hear too. By taking over the fish section it enabled us to have a rethink of the layout and what best would work for customers and staff. Something as simple as moving the cheese counter has enabled us to define the retail / deli area and has given us the space to introduce a charcuterie offering with an emphasis on British, something we have been keen to do for a while. The fish has become such a huge part of the business in the last 6 years we are thrilled to be able to continue it with all the same suppliers mainly from the day boats in Looe, Cornwall. Having said that, we have had great fun sourcing some really wonderful new products including organic Cornish Seaweeds and designing a new range of seasonal recipe cards using recipes by food writer Valentine Warner.
With the success of Thyme & Tides in mind, do you have any future plans to open a Thyme and Tides elsewhere?
As for another T&T I think at the moment one's enough!
Just for fun...
How do you take your coffee?...
Hemsley sisters good + simple
What's on your wardrobe wishlist right now....
Anything by WYSE London
Favourite Instagram account...
Most excited about…
Summer .... sunshine please!
Best piece of advice you've been given...
Life is what you make it
At Hero we believe it’s imperative to provide excellent customer service and essential to remember that customer loyalty is not a given. We thoroughly enjoy nurturing relationships with our customers and seeing these develop over time. The relationship has to be reciprocal...we make every effort to understand the needs and wants of our customers, as do Thyme & Tides with theirs. We are proud to be located on a popular high street where by other independent shops and eateries share similar values and beliefs to us.
TOP FIVE CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS THAT WE'VE FOUND MOST IMPORTANT (SO SIMPLE YET SO TRUE!)
1. Make customers feel welcome; smile and make them feel immediately at ease.
2. Listen to what the customer is saying.
3. Be honest ~ in the long run this interlinks customer loyalty and trust.
4. Be memorable ~ there needs to be a balance.
5. Be an expert and 'know' your business ~ customers need to have faith in you, to make the informed decision and commit to a service/purchase.
A big thank you to Sally for sharing an interesting and thought provoking insight into Thyme & Tides and Woodfire. We adore having these two fantastic eateries near by and know that you too, will enjoy these foodie hotspots.
Enjoy the extended weekend!
Team Hero xxx