Nafra :: Kousen :: Handwerken :: Breigarens


The clearance sale of knitting wool is over

totale uitverkoop breiwol
For stitchery kits

Santa Claus - borduurpakket met telpatroon Luca-S |  | Artikelnummer: luca-b563

see our new website:

NafraHandwerk.be
English version coming soon...
 

Who are we ? 

 

The start:

In May 1986 Nafra is founded as a small retailer in knitting yarns and knitwear (socks, tights, sweaters,…) under franchise agreement, with a large and well-known knitting yarn manufacturer.

 

The independence:

In 1989 this supplier decides to terminate all franchise contracts.  Over 300 shops, all over Belgium, are closed down, one by one, or take the decision to go on independently.  We also, choose the latter option and continue with other suppliers.

Our collection is expanded by several brands, in different price ranges and styles, so that there is something for everyone.  In the years to come, we also add needlework articles to our collection and other brands of tights and socks are added too.  That way leg-wear becomes one of our specialities.

After all these expansions, a few times accompanied by a move, we land in the shopping street of Bornem and also at this new address, the expansion continues.  With top-brand "Falke" we are now becoming known far beyond the borders of Bornem as specialized leg-wear shop, while we are the wool- or needlework shop to the creative souls.

 

The virtual department:

With the Euro coming, in the year 2000, the shop is automated and the first website is created.  From that moment on, especially our knitting yarn customers are able to make a first choice as to what to purchase, in the comfort of their own homes, by means of the photo’s and the already very large collection of yarns that is now to be seen at the website.  More and more we experience that customers enter the shop with a picture of the sweater they would like to knit, along with one of the type of yarn and the color of their choice.  At this point, we once in a while, receive an order through the website, placed by someone we do not know, and who lives somewhere in Flanders, far away from Bornem.  They turn out not to have a knitting shop in their neighbourhood, and for the first time in their lives, they take the risk of buying something on the net.  Apparently they like it, and slowly but surely, we are building a circle of satisfied customers, whom we only know through e-mail  contact and the sporadic phone call now and again.  From that moment on, it will be our website, that will undergo the most significant expansions. 

During the following years, our entire needlework kit collection is placed online. Countless hours of work, but all those efforts are clearly appreciated a lot by the online customers.  Our website is now also provided with a shopping cart system, which makes it a lot easier for people to place their orders.

In 2004 we invest largely in national publicity and make our small family business known as online shop for all kinds of needlework art, by means of advertisements in some of the most popular weekly and monthly magazines, that are sold all over the country.  We continue on that same path in 2005 and 2006. By now, we are also placing our entire leg-wear collection online.  And then, all of a sudden, we find ourselves growing across our national borders.  Although our website is still only built in Dutch, more and more orders from our surrounding countries come in.

And then, suddenly, we are faced with the inevitability to take a very difficult decision...

Through the increadible amount of time it takes to keep the website updated, and to process all the orders, and all that needs to be done between receiving the orders and shipping them, we diminish the opening hours of the shop, starting January 2006.  By now, we are playing with the idea to – perhaps – in 5 or 6 years, consider a drastic turnaround from “normal” shop to online shop entirely.  But destiny has other plans for us.  Things are now developing at such a high pace, that already in August of that same year, we simply have no other choice but to take the plunge immediately.  We will make the transformation on 1 January 2007 and shut down the shop in Bornem completely.  It is no longer possible to combine the two.   

We are a small family business, with only 3 partners.  In our opinion, that is exactly our strong point, an advantage we have over the large mail-order and online businesses, where the customer usually is nothing but a mere number, and at the least sign of a problem, they have to tell the same story, over and over again, to several people, before the problem gets solved.

In our small company, it is always the same people who are answering the customer’s e-mails and ship the orders.  The customer is always in contact with that same person, who addresses them on a first name basis.  And that is exactly the way we like it!  We do whatever we can, to answer every incoming e-mail a.s.a.p., and process the orders straight after receiving payment, so they can be shipped within 1 day.  That will become an impossible mission should we also have to keep the shop open.

In the 20 years of our existence, we have never taken on employees, but only worked together with self-employed people for those tasks we could no longer handle ourselves.  We want to stay small enough to prevent losing contact with our customers.  

When we got started, 20 years ago, we never would have suspected to celebrate our 20th anniversary online.  The virtual world did not exist back then.  But now things are changing fast, we choose...

 

The future:  

November and December 2006: the conversion to online shop takes up a lot of work and time.  The entire stock is moved to a new warehouse, of which we will not make the address public, to prevent people from needlessly going there in an effort to buy things on the spot.  In Belgium, people are still far from accustomed to use a computer for their purchases, instead of going to the shops in person, to choose and pick up their stuff.

We do announce a new contact address, which is a postbox address, as well as a new phone number, which is a pay-line, so that customers are stimulated to use the internet as much as possible when they want to contact us, and keep phone calls as short as possible.  That way, we can save a lot of time, which will in turn, result in faster processing of all the orders.  That way, everybody wins !

By Januari / Februari 2007 this whole operation is completed, the turnaround is now a fact, and the further expansion of our online activities takes…

A brand new start !

We did not have a clue what it would feel like to, after 20 years “behind the counter” keep the shop closed.  We now know it feels very strange, and we need a bit of time to adapt to this new situation, as do our customers.  In any case, it is very heart-warming to receive so many cards and other messages from customers wishing us well.

The new situation grows upon us surprisingly fast, and the development of our business now takes...

 

The European turn:

2010: we have outgrown our Belgian website and we start developing a brand new, European site, of which we hope that our foreign customers will feel even more at home with us at, now that they are able to read the article descriptions and all the other information in their own language.

It takes a lot of thought and worry, and a head-ache now and then ;-) but in April 2011 our EU-website is finally up and running.  And it is right there that you have now found us... 

We will keep you updated on the further development of our small family business by means of the monthly newsletter, and the novelty page on this website.

 

Nancy Callaerts,
Business manager
NAFRA ltd.

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