For 30 years, Anything Left Handed has sold left-handed gadgets from its two London shops and built up a mail order database of 70,000 customers.
But in late 1999, husband-and-wife team Keith and Lauren Milsom invested pounds 3,000 in an AnythingLeftHanded web site. The response has been amazing.
They had hoped to recoup their investment within 12 months - it took just six. Thirty per cent of their total business already takes place online, and this is expected to rise to 50% by the end of the month.
'We set up the web site primarily as an information source for left-handers,' says Keith. 'But we've found that it's creating a worldwide community of people with a common interest.' It's also attracting substantial overseas orders and he is leaving his job as commercial director of a chain of sports centres to concentrate on the site. 'The average spend in the shop is pounds 10, and pounds 15 for mail order items. But online it's pounds 20 - twice as much as in the shop.'
AnythingLeftHanded.co.uk has a loose target of 250,000 subscribers by year-end, though the figure could be much higher. A major site relaunch is planned for September, following the annual Left Handed Day in mid-August. 'Schoolchildren still get a hard time for being left-handed,' says Keith, who, like 10% of the world's population (including his wife and son), is a left-hander. 'We're aiming to create an online community that caters for all of them.'