According to United Nations World Travel Organization, from January to June 2020, international travel arrivals dropped 65%, which translates into a loss of 440 million less passengers and $460 billion in export revenues from international tourism – that’s “five times the loss in international tourism receipts recorded” during the global financial crisis in 2009.
One person who understands all too well the impact of Covid travel restrictions is Candice Divelec, owner of Bury, the luggage shop in the Centre Commercial.
Candice took over the store in 2007 from her folks, who were one of the first businesses in the Fontvieille shopping mall when it opened in 1992.
“My parents were established in the area because they had five maroquinerie (leather bags and goods). At that time, the concept of a grande surface was new in Monaco and there was no real competition between commerce here, everyone had their own trade – shoes, clothing, watches. Now shoppers want to buy a little of everything in one store,” says Candice.
Bury is well known for its selection of quality luggage – Samsonite, American Tourister (which was bought by Samsonite) and the Belgian brand, David – and has a loyal clientele, both residents and commuters to Monaco. “I don’t see many of my regulars because they are working from home and only here once a week.”
Although Candice’s boutique has been the most impacted in the shopping centre due to the health pandemic, she remains positive and forward thinking, expanding her maroquinerie to offer items other than luggage and handbags. (She’s also worked on her website and social media presence.)
“People are not thinking about suitcases right now, and so I have to try and sell different things. But as an independent business, there is no wiggle room as I don’t have anyone that takes back my unsold stock,” she shares, adding, “I am grateful for the financial aid I have received from the government.”
Residents of the Principality are frequents travellers, for business and pleasure, but not this year, not even for school holidays. “It has been a catastrophe for me, a total lost of revenue as luggage makes up 60% of my activity,” explains Candice.
Candice had to close on March 16 for lockdown and when she reopened on May 4, she had a stock of suitcases and handbags from last season.
“I had black leather bags at a time when people were looking for a panier more suitable for the warmer weather. The collection changes every season, so I had to try and sell the bags in July on promo.”
She faced the same problem with a large stock of last-season suitcases. “I had no choice but to reduce prices,” she says. Samsonite has also been massively impacted, and have offered support as they try to liquidate stock.
Candice points out that one of the biggest reason customers buy direct from her is because she offers after sales service and repairs. “Our luggage is guaranteed from 2 to 10 years and you bring it back to the store if there’s a problem. If it is a wheel, we change it in the shop, if it is a more complex repair, then we send it back to Samsonite for you.”
She says people who buy the cheapest bag often have regret when it is broken after one flight. “The most recent Samsonite features the shock absorbing Roxkin. We can’t say a suitcase is unbreakable but this is as close as you can get.” The material “easily bounces back into shape on impact.”
“When buying a suitcase, the most important features are quality, material and weight – a good solid bag that is light. For example, the Samsonite Cosmolite is rigid but weights only 2 kilos (€400). But American Tourister offers a decent selection, and you can buy a good bag from the David line (€145).
Two top selling accessories (ideal for stocking stuffers) are the digital luggage scale (€22) and protective suitcase covers (€27). “Some have a little message and different colours to help identify your bag at the baggage claim carrousel,” says Candice.
She has had to reduce luggage stock to add more handbags and bring in jewellery made of eco-friendly inoxydable – her rings and bracelets (€15-€25) and necklaces, some up to €40, are bringing passers-by into the shop and each person is greeted with a warm hello by Candice.
“As I have huge competition Naf Naf and Minelli for handbags, I carry brands like Lancaster and Guess that are traditional and sell well, but this is Monaco where people like original things, so I also have original handbags by unique designers.
“I have tried to create a welcoming Bohemian ambience at Bury, so when you enter you feel like you are on a journey. Travel may not be for tomorrow, but there is no better time to buy suitcase at 40% off,” Candice Divelec smiles.
Open Monday to Saturday, 9:30 am to 7:30 pm
Centre Commerciale Fontvieille
During Covid and confinement, let’s make an effort to support local businesses and services. Do you have a business or service to recommend for I ❤︎ MONACO? Email: GoodNewsMonaco