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13 June, 2008

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Q I'm building up quite a collection of old corks. What's the best, and most environment-friendly, use for them?

A Why not use them to make noticeboards? If you manage to get the cork out cleanly (a bit of wine staining doesn't matter at all) you can build a rectangular frame from wood, tack on a hardboard backing, then glue the corks on to that. You can make them go further by slicing them lengthways and fixing the flat edge to the board. After you've made one for the shop and your office, you could give them away as gifts or, who knows - even sell them.

Marie, Philadelphia, USA

A If you have an open fire, or know somebody who does, corks make great kindling.

Bill, Cambs

Q Instead of hiding spirits bottles behind the counter, wouldn't it be better to put empty gift packs on the shelves so customers can browse? Has anyone tried?

A Yes, this is something we have done on occasion with the sturdier cardboard canisters. It does seem to encourage more browsing and customer interest, although the shelves need a lot more tidying as the packs are light and tend to fall over quite easily.

Michael, Wilts

A You don't need to hide spirits behind the counter. Invest in some security tags and put the best sellers on open display, somewhere near the counter and within obvious range of a CCTV camera. The limited "shrinkage" you will experience is more than compensated for by a faster rate of sale.

HG, London

Q How often should I send out email alerts to my customers? I don't want to appear too pushy - or unenthusiastic. Is once a fortnight about right?

Jay, South Yorks

Q I am thinking of putting a gravel floor into a small room at the end of my main sales area because it will be quick, cheap and maybe even look good. Is this a good or bad idea?

Jan, by email

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