Noun Finds Ways to Adapt to Crisis

A Smithton retailer is finding that adaptation is the key to surviving and thriving in what has been a difficult trading period.

“When COVID hit and we went into lockdown I was so sure this was going to be a very tough year,” said Nicole Smith, owner of noun: A Place For Things. “Now though, I am so encouraged at the support we’ve had these last few months and I’m excited for the coming Christmas season.”

“2020 has been a challenge. We are in the north-west corner of Tasmania that went into full lockdown in April and had to close our doors.”

The bricks and mortar store is open again, but there was a period where the business with eight employees was relying on online sales. They had to build an website very quickly and to learn how to effectively manage an online business.

“We’ve changed direction a little and I can only see good things into our future. Tasmanians really do look out for each other and we’re feeling that in the support we’ve received.”

“We are finding now though that we have a following all over the state and on mainland Australia that we have gained in the last six months.

We’ve had to learn very quickly how to parcel up objects of all sorts of shapes and sizes.”

Smith said in person sales are still outweighing online sales ‘by a very long way’ and that locals like to use their website to guide their choices. “We have much more traffic coming to our website daily, since COVID hit our shores; often our customers have found what they are after on the website, then come in store to purchase.”

She opened her original store in September 2014 and then noun in February this year. Noun offers fashion, accessories, gifts, furniture, homewares, lighting and more.

According to Smith, signing up to wholesale ecommerce site Trada was a move that helped keep them going in 2020.

The platform helped her gain access to a number of smaller brands that previously would have been missed.

““We traditionally get our products from gift fairs or order from catalogues,” she said. “We had been looking for candles with beautiful sayings on them for many months and we found them on Trada.”

So far 89 Tasmanian retailers have joined the platform to buy stock items, while seven state brands are sellers.

Smith said that despite the difficult times, there were some items that were moving very quickly.

What has been the most popular? “Homewares! With everyone home more we’ve found our customers are redecorating at home. And we can’t keep pots on our shelves, they disappear almost as soon as we unpack them.”

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