Here at John Hanly, we manufacture accessories and fabrics for top brands, designers and quality retailers around the world. In our latest series of blog posts, we have been highlighting our Irish customers that bring our products to you. This week we feature Alan Foster from Skellig Gift Stores, County Kerry who operates stores in Cahersiveen and Waterville as well as a very successful online Irish gift business, skelliggiftstore.com.
Located seven miles off the beautiful Kerry coast lies the majestic Skellig Island recently made famous by Star Wars. The name ‘Skellig’ comes from the word Sceillic, which means a steep rock. Fifty years ago Noreen and Alf Foster opened their new store in Waterville, County Kerry overlooking the Skelligs. The shop was originally called the Waterville Craft Market after the local craft workers from the Skellig region. To this day Alan still places a special emphasis on Kerry craft and over 50% of their suppliers are of Kerry origin.
Over the years the business has undergone many changes, expanding to three stores and introducing an array of quality Irish products. Ranging from jewellery to pottery and of course, a selection of John Hanly products. Speaking to Alan, he highlighted the importance in keeping the store authentic and true to its origins, stating “everything we sell in the Skellig Gift Store must be 100% made in Ireland, this is something that I am particularly proud of.”
Alan has had to adapt to the changing times and has been constantly looking to improve his online offer. “For a couple of years now we have been investing in our website mainly due to the short tourist season. This year due to COVID 19, we are planning on moving up a few years and will be investing greatly in our online offer.”
Domestic tourism has been vital to Kerry as it is constant and helps extend the season. This market is important now ever before to businesses such as the Skellig Gift Store. “The Irish have always been great customers’ states Alan “with staycations on the increase, we are looking forward to welcoming everyone to the Kingdom this summer” he adds.
Alan has great respect for the John Hanly Brand adding “John Hanly has a huge range of products. All items are of very high quality. They have a very low return rate for website sales. their online sales platform is excellent and is very easy to order. Cashmere merino mix are the best sellers in store as people can feel the quality. Bestsellers online would be pure wool mainly due to its competitive price.
In these extraordinary times that we find ourselves in, where the future is so uncertain, Skellig Gift Store is an excellent example of a family business that has adapted and will go from strength to strength.