A North West retailer is celebrating 35 years in business proving that there’s still a place for local, independent specialists in a world of anonymous online trading.
Clocktower at Milnthorpe is the area’s biggest independent retailer of kitchen appliances, with a vast range of everything from kettles and blenders to free-standing and built-in washers, fridges and ovens.
But they have also built a 35-year reputation as experts who can advise, fit and repair electrical goods, trusted as an honest company with wide-ranging knowledge of what their customers need.
And now they are developing online sales as well, alongside the onsite store.
Clocktower is run by Tom Harvey whose parents began the business 35 years ago, initially at nearby Haverthwaite. The company moved to its current, extensive roadside home on the A6 at Milnthorpe 30 years ago.
In that time Tom, who is also a South Lakeland district councillor, and chairman of Cartmel Cricket Club, has seen the inexorable rise of online retailing while his own business has continued to grow, with a customer base that ranges from Grasmere to Lancaster, and from Barrow to Kirkby Lonsdale.
“It’s clear evidence that people want individual attention, genuine advice and knowledgeable service,” says Tom.
“For example, if a customer comes in for a new washing machine, we ask if their kitchen/diner is open plan, and help them select a quieter model. We can explain about the different kinds of tumble dryers and which might suit their needs best. That’s not something you can discover when buying online.”
The company does have an online sales department, which is appreciated by a younger generation of buyers, but Tom says that many customers like to call at the showroom knowing what they need – and finding the best advice to guide them to the best product.
“Our customers want advice,” he says. “They want to see items before they buy, and they want to talk to someone who has the knowledge to answer their questions.
“They also know that they can come here for spare parts and replacement parts, and that we can install their new washers and ovens.”
The company doesn’t build fitted kitchens, but can provide the appliances either built-in or free standing, as needed. Their best sellers currently tend to be Bosch laundry appliances, and refrigeration from the premium brand Liebherr.
Visitors to the store can enter a raffle for a bottle of champagne to mark the firm’s significant anniversary.