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Q&A: Jennie Kane, manager at Keepsakes Inverness is excited to see the city centre come alive

By Andrew Dixon

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Jennie Kane manager of Keepsakes High Street. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Jennie Kane manager of Keepsakes High Street. Picture: Gary Anthony.

Q How would you describe your business to a stranger?

A Keepsakes is an award-winning, modern gift shop in the High Street which offers locals and visitors a wide range of high-quality products including jewellery, ornaments, artworks, homeware, cushions and cards.

We are a family-run business and pride ourselves in having a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for our regular customers and holidaymakers. Our focus is on customer service because it is so important to have a pleasant experience when you go into to a shop.

We opened in Inverness in April 2021. We thrive on our uniqueness as well as supporting local artists which offers something special in Inverness.

Q What inspired you to start the business?

A Brothers Stephen and Scott Nicol had a passion for retail and decided to pool their experience and work together. Despite having worked in other retail sectors they chose the gift business when they saw a gap in the market for a modern gift shop that focused on locals as well as tourists and they formed Keepsakes. The first shop opened in Pitlochry in February 2020 where the family had visited each year for holidays.

It did very well despite being closed by lockdown just a month after opening and, as I was working in Inverness, the family decided to open a shop here last year with myself as manager and my daughter Cayley as deputy manager. It gives a family feel and homely atmosphere which we believe is very important.

Q How has your business developed?

A All the family is now involved and Keepsakes has expanded rapidly. Two young men starting a business and opening five shops in two years through the pandemic restrictions is incredible. After our flagship store opened in Pitlochry, we were able to open another shop at Loch Lomond Shores later in 2020. Inverness came next in 2021 and in February this year we opened in Stirling and another shop will open in Ayr this summer.

The quality goods we stock are very popular and the timing for new business leases was good for us as towns are keen to get people back into their centres. Also, with the Covid restrictions many people have chosen to holiday around the UK, which has helped businesses like ours.

Q How are you moving forward post the Covid-19 pandemic?

A Even though the timing of our openings during the pandemic was not in our favour we survived with positivity and recovered. Adapting the website helped capture interest ready for reopening with a fresh outlook for the future.

Local trade is very important. Last year 75 per cent of our sales in Inverness were to locals, especially at Christmas which was amazing. Now there are also encouraging signs with foreign tourists coming back.

Q What lessons have you learnt from your time in business?

A The behind-the-scenes workload of running a business hadn’t been anticipated. It was a whole new experience for Stephen and Scott and incredibly challenging, but teamwork and communication were key. We all helped to set up the stores and learned together.

Q What’s your vision for Inverness city centre?

A We are excited to see the city centre coming alive again. There are more people about now and greater hustle and bustle. In future we would like to see more for teenagers in the city centre as they are the future.

Q Tell us something interesting about yourself?

A We make some of the products we sell in the shop ourselves in our spare time in the evenings – mini-pebble art and floral art which can be personalised for customers.

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