In a time when small retailers are often facing the business dilemma of having to refocus or die, it's warming to hear of one such trader finding there is still a place for expansion.
After starting with one store in the Adelaide CBD, Cherry Computers has grown its computer hardware and software retail operation to three stores and is planning to add a warehouse to its infrastructure soon.
The original city operation has been around for eight years, according to its store manager, Nick Hart, who said that opening further plaza-based stores in the northern Adelaide suburbs of Modbury and Salisbury has been a booming success.
Cherry also runs an ISP operation called World Link which has a point of presence in Adelaide and Sydney. Hart said it has been a very successful leverage for PC sales and that being able to throw in 12 months free Internet access has been a great clincher in selling.
Hart pinpointed the core competency of the Cherry organisation as satisfying the needs of customers and selling "brand-name, high quality componentry".
"We sell absolutely everything but try to avoid the cheap and nasty stuff," Hart said of the products it stocks and the components it builds into the systems it sells. "We may offer a less expensive alternative but usually only if it is in a retail box and looks presentable."
Hart said staff try to get into the heads of their customers, find out what they want and then recommend whatever is the best solution for them.
"We sit down with every single customer," Hart said. "If a customer asks for a low-cost system, then we will supply it for them but we will also advise them of what we think the consequences of that decision will be. So, while we may have something inexpensive in stock, we will also always have something to sell up to."
While praising the merits of brand-name componentry, Hart said Cherry avoids brand-name systems as they are usually "very limited in what you can supply.
"Usually they [brand name computers] are not upgradable or very expensive to upgrade," he said. "We can build better systems for less money."
The customer profile for the city store is much different to that of the suburban ones, according to Hart. He said the city store attracts a very corporate market including small and large businesses, government departments and educational institutions. Out in the suburbs, there are far more "mums and dads" coming into the store. The software inventory is also necessarily far more extensive in the suburbs.
"We do a lot more upgrades at the suburban stores," he said, adding that "customers tend to want an over-the-counter solution. They want it now and they want it cheap."
When asked what the hottest-selling products were at the moment, Hart said there was a lot of activity around CD burners and blank CD-R and CD-RW discs, suggesting the organisation is moving as many as 30,000 blank CDs a week.
"It is unbelievable the amount of CDs we sell," he said. "The Modbury store would sell 10,000 blank CDs alone on a Saturday."
The future focus for Cherry is in technology and electronic convergence, according to Hart. He said that one of the showpieces of his store display is a home entertainment system.
"It is not just a computer," Hart said. "There are DVD drives, powerful sound cards and incredible quality speakers. We want people to understand that they can be completely entertained by the computer as well as using it as a tool for business or education.
"One day everything will be controlled through your PC - television, video and the Internet. That is where we want to be when it happens."