Spanish retailer Gnomo, founded by real-life couple Esther Martín and Álvaro Zarzuela, specializes in “everything you need for your contemporary survival.” We talked to the duo behind the concept store to get an inside look at Gnomo and how Vend has made both business and life easier for them. Read on for the interview.
Tell us a bit about how you got started. What are you all about?
We’re Gnomo — a concept store in Valencia, Spain. We’re devoted to products rooted in quality design and creativity, from art prints and kitchenware to paper goods and jewelry. We like to say we offer objects absolutely necessary for contemporary survival.
Gnomo was founded by us: Esther Martín and Álvaro Zarzuela, a couple both in business and in real life. We met some years ago when Esther lived in London. We matched from the very beginning, and a few months later, we opened Gnomo.
Gnomo is about joy, design, and fun. We’re committed to helping our customers shape their own lifestyles.
What’s your local community like?
We work and live in Ruzafa, a Spanish Mediterranean city and a historical neighborhood in Valencia. We really love the place; Ruzafa has a lot of street life and a strong sense of community.
Valencia’s creative scene is very active, and it always has been. The city has a long tradition in this sense. And in recent years, many small initiatives have turned Valencia into a creative hub. We fell madly in love with the city because of this and felt it was the right place to open Gnomo.
What brought you to Vend, and how have you found it? Would you recommend Vend to retailers like you?
We looked for something like Vend six years ago — software capable of managing the POS and controlling the stock both online and in-store. Back then, we didn’t find anything like that, so we made it up ourselves. But let’s be serious: we’re into design and storekeeping, not code, MYSQL, HTML, and WYSIWYG (even if we really like the sound of it: WYSIWYG!).
So with the business growing, our Access tables proved to have more and more limitations. We used to spend the whole morning calculating very simple sales reports, and that was time we didn’t use to make the business grow.
We’d absolutely recommend Vend to other retailers. Vend is a super helpful tool in making buying decisions, designing proper budgets, making stock provisions, keeping the inventory under control, and managing the POS. We even fell in love with the support team!
Where does your passion come from for what you do?
We love working for ourselves, and we really enjoy working together. Even our child has his space in the store.
We also really like dealing with people. Being part of the urban life and the activity of the street put smiles on our faces every day. You fly high when you see your customers happy, especially because they come to Gnomo to enjoy and to wonder.
Do you have any advice for retailers that you wish you’d known?
Well, we’re not experts in anything. We just learned how to manage our business over the years — as anyone does with his own life, we suppose. Actually, we can’t really see the difference between our life and our business. It tends to happen when you work in your passion.
But seriously: just keep your feet on Earth. This is business, and you want to make a life of it. Take risks, and know what you can and can’t afford.
And on the other hand, enjoy what you do. It’s senseless if you don’t. It’s not an easy balance, but as Dr. Seuss said: “So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
What’s your best retail tale?
When we were moving to our new space after six years in the old one, an old gentleman walked in and asked us, “Are you leaving? What a pity! You’ve been the joy of this street. Every time I see your sign I feel I’m home.” He was a very serious gentleman, not a man we’ve talked a lot with in all these years. It reached our soul. To realize that you create emotions in your neighbors — that they count on you — is one of the best things about running a business in this community.
You’ve recently started using Vend to run your online store as well. How’s it going?
It’s super cool. Before Vend, our brick and mortar and online stores were unconnected, meaning we had to update our online stock by hand. In addition to taking a lot of time and mental effort, it complicated fulfillment and often led to broken-stock situations. As our sales grew, it became clear that this system was no longer efficient.
And then Vend came along. Vend connects seamlessly with our Shopify online store, keeping the stock updated and saving us lots of headaches.
Gnomo is inventory-intensive. How do you keep track of all your stock?
For us, tracking inventory accurately is very important because we’re selling both online and in-store. So if we sell something online and have broken stock, it’s not cool at all; we need to cancel the order, and we’re offering a very poor experience to our customers.
Vend turned this into easy work, allowing us to sell both online and in-store, as well as manage lay-bys and returns. For us, it means a new level of business.
As far as keeping track of our stock: stock isn’t just numbers. It’s a necessary tool to offer a great UX. And it’s full of decisions. Should we track air plants as a single product? Or as variants? Or as different products? Stock management affects online customer experience and in-store checkout, as well as buying decisions — which in our case is a key factor.
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