Aidan decided to trade one measuring tape for another

Within a few months, he had moved from Lavitt's Quay to a larger unit in North Main Street, expanding the business already.
Aidan decided to trade one measuring tape for another
Aidan Madden, owner, the Zip Yard, North Main Street.

It first opened in 2010 on Lavitt's Quay, and it came up for sale last year because the owner was moving. I was a self-employed carpenter for years. It was a very different job - a very different measuring tape. But there are similarities in the business in that you're working with the public and people from all walks of life. There are new types of people and jobs every day, and that's cool. 

Why did you move to North Main Street?

We have a lot more space here, but one of the big reasons was parking. On Lavitt's Quay, you were right out on the road. If you wanted to pick something up, or carry out a transaction that took thirty seconds, you'd have to park over in Paul Street and pay a few euro. North Main Street has on-street parking, which is great. I also have three floors of space here. It's a perfect rectangular unit. Lavitt's Quay was so small. When I was looking for places, initially people said they weren't sure about North Main Street. There was a lot of negativity, but I'm finding it great. There's good characters on it. I'm right next to Leaders. They are my landlords and they are great. I have Bradley's on the other side, and I have a good relationship with them. Either side of me there is great people. If you have a good service, people will travel to you too, but it's only a four-minute walk away from where we used to be - I counted it. So people are keeping their business with us.

What kind of services do you provide?

As well as alterations and repairs, we do a lot of upstyling and restyling. You can change something in your wardrobe into a totally different item, not just add a button or change a zip. A dress can become anything. We do a lot of that work for people. We also have the usual hemming and shortening and taking in legs. Men have become a lot more interested in that too. They have become focused on having proper fitting clothes, so we are getting a lot of jackets in. We do dry cleaning too, which a lot of people don't realise. It's actually the cheapest in the city. It's really good and it's next day, with a text service to let people know when it's ready for collection.

Tell us about your customers.

They are very loyal. That is part of the security in buying a franchise. We're not based on walk-ins. Coming to The Zipyard is a planned trip, unlike a restaurant or a shop. You need to be prepared and know what you're looking to get done. So we have to provide a good service to keep people coming and grow. Once people see the bridesmaids or the wedding dress and see that it's good, they will keep coming back to us.

Tell us about your staff.

We have four girls and another one at the tills with me. The are all experienced seamstresses. You're only as good as your staff, and they are unbelievable at their jobs. If you did a few bad jobs, word would spread and people wouldn't come to you, but they are great and always deliver.

What is it like to be part of a big franchise?

There are 27 branches of The Zipyard all over Ireland. I'm from Limerick, and that's where it started - that's where the master franchise is - so I knew about it before. I had got a few small jobs done there, and the work they did was unbelievable. It's great to have a reputation that people know. If I had opened 'Aidan's Zips' on North Main Street, I might have had five customers, because I would have no reputation. The Zipyard take's a portion of your monthly sales from your branch, but they invest part of that back into marketing, so you're getting advertising on things like Ireland AM and Expose. It's a great group to work with.

What's in the future for your business?

We have a lot more space here to do more bridal work and even things like curtains. Because of the space we have upstairs, we can give brides real privacy, and the space with the podium to get all their work done. We also have the space to layout curtains properly to work on them. So those areas are expanding. We can also do dry cleaning, and all types of alterations, so we are becoming a one-stop-shop for people.

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