DIY expert realises dream with Heathfield shop
Six months after taking ownership of his first shop, Chris Cook hasn’t looked back and the business is going from strength to strength.
Chris struck up a relationship with the owner of Balcombes DIY in Hailsham Road, Heathfield, and then one day went home and told his partner that he would love to own the shop.
“Three years ago I bought a house in Harley Lane which I renovated. I went in to buy some nails and went back to the house and said there’s a shop nearby and I want to buy it. I knew I could do so much with it. I got to know Mark and one day he asked whether I was interested in buying the shop,” Chris explained.
Chris started working in DIY as a 16 year old at Payless DIY in Bognor Regis and admits that was when he “got the bug” for DIY and discovered that he really liked helping people with their queries.
From part-time helper, Chris climbed the ranks to store manager of Focus in Tunbridge Wells before managing the Sevenoaks and Crowborough branches. He left just before the company folded in 2006 and launched a construction company.
After taking ownership of the shop in January 2020 Chris has been on a mission to broaden the products and services offered and make the business the best it can be.
“I am a great believer of adapt, adopt and improve and if there’s a problem you can always find a solution,” he explains.
All four staff were kept on and Chris has recruited another member of staff to help at weekends, so he can deliver a high standard of service and customer care.
The changes so far have included new graphics and a new logo and a re-paint of the outside of the building. The inside of the shop has been re-arranged to improve safety, security and customer service. New services include a paint colour matching and mixing service using a hi-tech, on site machine. Customers can bring in a piece of card or fabric and paint can be matched to the exact colour.
“My hope is that people will continually pop in to see what the latest products on offer are. I am always looking for new, exciting ones – for instance I will soon be selling a new type of fire extinguisher that can be used on any type of fire whether it’s in the kitchen, a vehicle or a workshop.
Chris has also launched a weekday delivery service with a smart, sign-written van. Deliveries are contact free or goods can be left in a safe place. The shop is also now open seven days a week.
Chris’s philosophy is that he likes to do business with and support other local businesses. For instance, he has used Graffiti Design in Broad Oak for the new branding, although the new logo was designed by a member of his team and all of the store decorating has been done by Gemma of Lady Décor, a local painter and decorator. He loves to help and encourage people that they can do lots of things themselves as well as chatting and hearing stories from all walks of life.
Outside work Chris enjoys carpentry and building things. He also likes restoring classic cars especially VW Golfs.
Living just a few minutes’ walk away from his shop, Chris has no regrets about making the move to the town. “The town and people sold the area to us before we even saw the house. There is a lovely mix of businesses and a great community in this area of the town. I am so proud to have my name above the shop door.”