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The Sarnie Business day 9 – A sarnie slip-up

The Sarnie Business has got an upgrade to a shop, and Lauren (@LaurenDouglin) and Scott (@ScottHudson) have some great ideas to expand the business – until disaster strikes.

Lauren: We got upgraded to a shop today, which was brilliant. So many possibilities.

Scott: And it’s on a site where the Earl of Sandwich once stayed. There’s a plaque and everything – what are the chances of that?

Lauren: We got in early because we wanted to decorate the new shop, and we felt that we could put up the prices a bit, from £3 a sandwich to £3.50 – still a bargain. We also got a large order for an office, 45 sandwiches, because we’d put the phone number on the window. So we had a plan.

Scott: But that plan went out the window in the first hour.

The Sarnie Shop opens its doors


Ground level marketing

Lauren: A pavement artist turned up and asked us if we wanted a painting outside the shop. So in exchange for the biggest sarnie we had, he did a really cool optical illusion drawing that made it look like you could stand on the giant sandwich.

Scott: That seemed to get a lot of attention. It made people pause, some took pictures and then some of them came in the shop.

Lauren: We also made some new displays and we’re in a prime location so we’ve been very eye-catching. And we’re offering free tea or coffee with a sandwich after 2pm. Initially we offered free coffee with cake, but then we decided to use it as a loss leader to get people into the shop. People seem to buy tea or coffee less later in the afternoon anyway. It may not be a sustainable thing, but as a stunt to get us known, it was working great.

Scott: We’re not filling a gap in the market. There are plenty of other food and drink places around so we’re competing. And that means we have to stand out.

Sarnie street art


The avocado lawsuit

Lauren: But then we had a problem.

Scott: It was our downfall. Or a fall down, you might say. A gentleman who happens to be an injury lawyer bought our signature dish, our Earl of Sandwich sandwich – cheese, ham, pickles and radish. But on his way out he slipped on a half an avocado, and said he was going to sue us.

Lauren: We tried to calm him down, make sure he wasn’t hurt, but he wasn’t having any of it.

Scott: He was in such a rage, he screamed at us, which left me very shaken. And then he came back in half an hour with a written notice that said we had to close the premises. So we’d literally just opened, and now we’re closed.

Lawyer slips up

Profit and loss

Scott: We’d already made a profit before we had to close and it was looking like it would be our best day yet.

Lauren: We haven’t factored in any overheads for rent or rates but it certainly looked like the profits would make it worthwhile.


Lessons learned

Scott: Know your market, and know what you need to do to reach it. The shop’s great for passing trade, but we had office orders today, and we don’t need a shop for those, we can make those sandwiches in our kitchen and deliver them, which might turn out to be more profitable.

Lauren: But it’s difficult when things keep changing. You have to be flexible. We’d have loved to have had a bit more time in the shop, even if just to see if any of the people who noticed us today came back tomorrow.

It’s all about the long game, building rapport with customers and getting to know them so that they like us and want to come back. That’s what makes the difference, it’s not just about the basic product or the price.



Lauren and Scott are back on the stall, but can they be flexible and bounce back as good as ever?



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