My name is Marcos. I’m a wheelchair user and have cerebral palsy, which affects my speech and movement. Two years ago, I had a dream to open my own tuck shop at the Sense Centre that supports me. I told one of my managers about my idea, and it evolved from there.
Making a business plan
Before I opened my business, I had to prepare a business plan. I started doing lots of research into job roles and descriptions, the prices of food and some market research, asking people at my Sense Centre (TouchBase South East) what snacks they would like.
My keyworker supported me to do some management training, and I put everything I had read, learnt and researched into my business plan. I presented my plan to the Day Centre Manager.
It outlined what I wanted to do, when, where and how much money I would need to borrow to get started. My plan was approved!
I ordered the equipment I needed and received a small loan to purchase the initial stock.
I booked a day trip to go shopping and asked for a volunteer to help me load the van.
A grand opening
Once I had bought the stock, I prepared price lists and some signs, and invited everyone to the grand opening.
We brought some red ribbon and some balloons. By the time we were due to open, a large queue had formed!
We trailed the tuck shop for two weeks and I managed it on my own, which was hard work every day. Once I knew it was working, I designed some adverts to recruit some volunteers.
I advertised for Deputy Managers on my day off and Tuck shop assistants to help stock and pack away every day.
We advertised at the centre and in the Sense supported flats across the road.
Once I had received interest from the volunteers I invited them for an interview. I booked the meeting room and asked the candidates why they would like to volunteer and what days they would be able to volunteer.
I was very happy to finally recruit a team of seven people to support me running my business.
We’re open five days a week
We’re now open five days a week, and have lots regular customers.
Despite my attempts to sell fruit, most people just want to buy chocolate, ha ha!
Since opening, I have issued a customer feedback survey to see what is working and what my customers want. I have paid back my loan from Sense and can now make monthly orders for stock, and all my profits go to Sense.
I have lots of plans for the tuck shop, I would like to make a promotional video, perhaps offer some summer smoothies and one day even open at the weekends.
The tuck shop is open from 1pm, Monday to Friday at Touchbase South East, the Sense Centre in Barnet.