This week we take a trip to Belgium to chat with Christophe Verbeke from our wonderful stockist PIET Moodshop.
When did your shop open?
I opened my first shop in 2012. In 2013 we started our webshop and last December 2017 we opened our second shop.
Why did you choose to open in Ghent?
I was born and raised in Ghent, a very vibrant historical university city between Brussels and Brugge in Belgium.
When invited to a friend’s dinner party, I couldn’t find my kind of gift in my own city. So I bought all my presents online, but most of the time I was too late, remembering to buy a present just a few hours before I left to the party! I always had to buy flowers instead! So I thought there must be people like me who wanted nice quality design objects at reasonable prices.
Tell us about your favourite details of your shop.
My first shop is an old grocery store from the 18th century with wooden shelfs from floor to ceiling. The old interior is now filled with modern decoration items. We have a vintage tiled floor, and decorate a table in the middle of the shop. Everywhere you look you see vases and flowers. We love to create a nice, warm ambiance like a home.
Please share with us a special moment for your shop.
There was a customer, he came often to shop and once said to me: “Hi, sorry that I come here so often and never buy anything. I’m a student and don’t have the money, but every time I’m not feeling well I come here. It makes me feel better to walk around in your lovely shop”.
I said: “Come as much as you want, because making people happy is the main goal”.
I don’t care that people come in and buy nothing. If they are happy, I am too.
Have you had any surprise bestsellers?
Yes. There is a designer from Ghent, Helen B who has her own collection. We asked her to make our own cups with the alphabet letters she draws.
What’s next for you and your shop?
Last year we translated our webshop into English and since then we send 1 in 3 packages abroad. At the moment our webshop is good for 15% of our measurable sales. Currently the website is attracting many visitors to the shop but we want the webshop to grow to an fully-fledged shop.
For myself, I try to manage the new team, put the second store on the map, and search constantly for new products and innovation. It’s sometimes difficult, I can get lost in lots of paperwork and forget to be creative. My tip for everyone: relax now and then.