Debbie and Kim are owners of The Shake Shop and winners of the 2015 WOBA micro business award. They launched The Shake Shop 4 years ago and their passion for their quirky little shop is very evident.
“Every day we still feel excited. We are always thinking about the business, new ideas, new flavours, new promotions. If we walk home and see one of our empty shake cups in a bin, we just get a surge of excitement”.
The Shake Shop is just on Market Square in Witney and specialises in ice cream shakes blended with your choice of favourite chocolate bar. Literally every chocolate bar (and cake!) you can think of is available to have blended into a creamy, cold shake. It’s the Willy Wonka’s factory of shake shops! Wispas, Snickers, Ferrrero Rocher, Crème Egg, Reese’s Cups, M&M’s, Aero mint, Aero orange, After Eight, Chocolate Orange, Bakewell tart – the list is pretty much endless! If this isn’t enough, there’s also a big list of exciting toppings to finish off your shake. The menu doesn’t stop there, frozen yogurts, fruit and vegetable smoothies, straight shakes and a shelf after shelf of old fashioned style penny sweets in jars. There’s also a very good coffee menu.
The original idea came when Kim visited a shake bar down by the coast. It was the first time she’d had a chocolate bar blended into a shake and she thought it was delicious. She and sister Debbie had been talking about starting a business together and this, they felt was the right direction for them. It took a further four years before the pair both felt the timing was right and after researching several different venues, they took the lease on the shop at Market Square, Witney. A beautiful, original Cotswold building – Kim and Debbie shaped the vintage look and feel of their business around the quirkiness of the building.
The minute you walk into the shop you are transported into a bygone era, 1950’s music plays constantly whilst interesting memorabilia adorns the walls and shelves – many of it found by Kim and Debbie’s mum. The shop is fitted with furniture which Kim and Debbie scoured the length and breadth of the country to find. The penny games machines are very popular with customers and every conceivable space holds an interesting object (usually found by Debbie and Kim’s mum!) – it’s a fascinating space.
The shop works like clockwork with 9 members of staff including two of Debbie’s daughters who work behind the counter. On a Saturday the team deliver over 500 shakes. Kim and Debbie generate ideas together with Debbie leading the way with social media.
“Our customers are largely secondary school children, so social media is a key part of communication for our business. We are on Facebook, Twitter and just getting into videoing and Snap Chat. I love it!”
The Shake Shop pride themselves on involving their customer’s in their business, with regular competitions, requests for favourite flavours, ‘Krazy Kim’s shake of the week’ and noticeboards for feedback in store. They are also a very active part of the community in Witney and show their support for charity and town events through displays in their window, donations through a special shake and they enter a float every year in the Witney carnival.
For them, entering WOBA took a couple of years. At first they were just too busy setting up the business, but this year felt different. Once they put pen to paper and filled out the form their initial reaction was “we have a really good business when you put it all down on paper! It really motivated us!” It also spurred them on to continue with their social media efforts and continue to push out relevant content to their customers – at last count they had over 3,700 followers on Facebook!
The evening of the WOBA awards was a really special night for them. They took their team and families and said
“we just had a really lovely night. Then when we found out we’d won, it gave us a big oomph! We felt genuine support from all the other businesses in West Oxfordshire that had entered. But what really made us happy was the response and warmth we got from our customers. We are just arranging to put our WOBA certificate and photos from the night up in the entrance to our shop.”