A bank manager who has helped countless local businesses has followed her own advice and set up her own venture.
Barclays local business area manager for Shropshire Jo Woodhouse, who has more than 30 year’s experience advising local businesses on how to start up and grow, is now in business for herself.
She took over The Learning Ladder toy shop in Perton following a chance meeting when she was shopping for a gift for her grandson.
Ms Woodhouse said: “I went into the shop to buy a rattle for my seven-month grandson who was staying overnight with me for the first time.
“I began chatting to the previous owner and decided to make an offer for the business.
“It is definitely the most expensive rattle I have ever bought.”
Ms Woodhouse is still working for Barclays – she chose to purchase the business as an investment for retirement and has employed the previous owner to manage the shop.
She added: “I think I’m a good example of someone using personal experience followed up by research to spot a business opportunity.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Ms Woodhouse turned to Barclays for financial and professional support throughout the initial stages of the business.
She said she enjoyed the freedom of picking her own product ranges and was looking forward to Christmas in her own toy shop.
“Running a business is very demanding but having the freedom to pick your own product ranges and experiencing the magic of Christmas within your own toy store is very special,” she said.
Ms Woodhouse said there are no other specialised toy shops in the area and customers often want somebody with knowledge and experience, so she believes she has found a perfect niche in the market.
The shop aims to be a part of the local community, with close links to local schools.
It offers a range of toys which many high street stores cannot even provide, but specialises in educational toys.
She added that her future plans for the business included diversifying into balloon decorations for weddings and parties.