Steady growth for Helensburgh optical retailer

Sheena MacGregor

Four years after setting up shop, The Spex Store has moved into a bigger shop at Helensburgh seafront and has taken on two part-time employees to accommodate demand.

Sheena MacGregor set up The Spex Store with support from Business Gateway Argyll and Bute, and the opticial retailer has grown steadily, attracting a strong customer base, with many travelling over 30 miles to pick and choose their frames.

Sheena, a qualified Dispensing Optician, worked for large companies for many years before becoming inspired by the increase in people using their prescriptions to buy glasses online.

After seeking the advice of Business Gateway and attending a range of fully funded courses to make sure she was armed with the correct knowledge and skills to set up a business, Sheena launched, The Spex Store, offering dispensing optician services only.

Sheena said: “People are a lot more shopping savvy now and the increase in people using their rescriptions to buy affordable glasses online made me realise that I could offer a similar service of my own. Whilst buying online has its advantages, trying on glasses to see if they suit your face shape and feel good are really important factors in buying a pair and I felt that if I could offer this service I could attract customers.

“Although I had the idea if it wasn’t for Business Gateway’s help I wouldn’t have been able to set up The Spex Store. The confidence I gained from speaking and listening to my adviser as well as the things I learned from the free courses were deciding factors in me taking the leap.”

The Spex Store, on West Clyde Street, offers a range of frames including traditional, quirky and designer. With a tagline of ‘Bring us your prescription and see the savings’, the shop is attracting people from all over Argyll and Bute as well as Glasgow, Greenock and Renfrewshire.

Sheena added: “Our website and word of mouth has really helped us get known beyond Helensburgh which is fantastic. The key to our success is our customer service and the offering we have. I like to bring in new brands and offer customers a real choice so they can wear their glasses with pride and feel good in them. With Business Gateway’s ongoing help I’m now hoping to learn more about window dressing and merchandising so we can ensure our window displays are eye catching and bring in even more people.”

Ann Scott, Business Adviser, Business Gateway Argyll and Bute said: “Before officially setting up the business, Sheena spent six months learning about how to set up and run a successful venture by seeking our support and attending a host of our fully funded courses. With our help, she was able to gain essential knowledge and skills which she uses everyday as a business owner.”