Wimborne’s popular independent cookware retailer Salamander Cookshop were celebrating last month, having won a prestigious Excellence in Housewares Award at a glittering ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.
Often described as a traditional ‘emporium’, Salamander stocks over 5,000 different cookware products. All have been carefully curated by owners David and Ione Crossley, who took over the shop in 2019.
There were seven other finalists in the category of Excellence in Retail Training, including Harrods and John Lewis.
‘We feel proud to be recognised alongside such an impressive range of leading national brands’ said the husband and wife team. ‘This award recognises our focus, our team really knowing the products we sell and us being able to share that knowledge and expertise with customers.’
It’s all in the training
David and Ione put the win down to their baked-in commitment to training. David said: ‘We came to the retail sector from education; we ran our own training consultancy helping to develop school leaders and teachers. Quite simply, as lifelong learners ourselves, great training is part of our DNA. With this background, a focus on learning about the cookware industry and its products was natural for us.’
All Salamander staff undergo online training with suppliers and leading cookware specialists, as well as attending workshops at places such as the Le Crueset kitchen in Andover.
Ione said: ‘We believe we best serve our customers by offering genuine product knowledge and expertise as well as great customer service. We’ve developed an induction manual and we take every member of staff through the shop in sections so they can really get under the skin of what we sell – how it works, where it comes from, its benefits and features.’
Salamander was also a finalist in the Retail Initiative Category for its innovative approach. The couple have in-store demonstrations for customers, and during COVID held virtual cooking competitions and personal Zoom shopping.
The couple are always looking for new ways to expand what they do, too. Their cooking events have proved very popular – one of their recent guest experts was Maggie Richardson from last year’s Great British Bake Off. Wimborne Food Walks is another venture which they jointly host with other businesses in the town. Ione said: ‘We’re delighted to partner with Dacombes of Wimborne, who allow us to use their demonstration kitchen. We love the town – the brilliant range of cafe and artisan food shops inspired us to run Food Walks where we showcase other local food businesses, such as East Street Deli, The Malthouse Bakery and Bells Fisheries.’
The cookshop also won Good Retailing Award in 2021 for its accessible website, effective use of IT and its creative newsletter which goes out regularly to over 800 subscribers.