50 days of lockdown and 5lbs heavier, I’ve had a lot of time and more weight behind me to contemplate. I see other independent shops selling online, doing doorstep deliveries and wondering if I should be doing the same? Even prior to lockdown, I’m asked on a weekly basis if I’d post things out. I set up my website so I could, but it wasn’t something I ever really pursued.
When I opened my shop, I was still running my hire company. I thought I could do it all, in reality I couldn’t. We were one of the first vintage hire companies back in 2011 in the UK, Fiona Humberstone
called me a ‘trailblazer’ which was rather flattering. Along with Virginias Vintage Hire
, Poppy Trading
and Idyllic Days
, I’m not sure there was anyone else.
It was a very exciting time and I loved it, but over the years when more and more companies set up and emulated what we did, I basically lost the fire. When someone does the same thing, I don’t want to do it anymore. I think that’s why I like mixing vintage things into my interiors because the things are ‘one of a kind’.
So when I opened the shop, the excitement of that took over and my hire company fell by the wayside. I felt really guilty about it, as it was a great business and would earn way more than a small independent shop would. It was only when I went on the life changing Brand Stylist Retreat
that I had the confidence to do anything about it.
Organised by the brilliant aforementioned Fiona, she gave me the confidence to realise (and break the news to my husband who had just retired from the Fire Service!) that I didn’t want to do it anymore. Fiona made me realise that I didn’t love it any longer and I should sell it and I also shouldn’t be selling online as that's another business to run too! Katy, my good friend and roommate and I, did laugh one night, saying that by the time the Retreat was over, I’d be going back without a business at all!!
Fiona was right though. An online business takes time and energy, lots of stock, more staff, more space and wouldn't actually be that enjoyable for me! As I’ve said before, for me it’s not about making lots of money!
This sounds strange, but I wrote my husband a letter on the plane on the way back! I knew I couldn't explain everything that I'd taken away from the Retreat and if I tried, he would have tried to pursuade me to change my mind. We would end up arguing and I would stomp off up the stairs and slam my bedroom door like a teenager! One of the paragraphs I wrote:-
“My goal is that in two years time, when Toby (our youngest son) leaves for university or college (or just stays in his room like Alan from 'The Hangover'), you and I will have set up a fabulous destination shop, it will be run by an enthusiastic 20 something and we can go on buying trips throughout Europe, maybe even the world!”
Well those two years are up and Alan is still in his room and we can’t travel thanks to lockdown, but on Saturday 21st March 2020, our last day, the shop was buzzing and our customers made me cry they were so kind.
So I’ve decided that I’m going to concentrate all my efforts in making the shop the best it can be and a shop people will want to travel to. I know I do for other shops! Petersham Nurseries
in Richmond, Burford Garden Centre
in the Cotswolds, even when we’re on holiday.
I dragged my family on a two hour drive in 40 degree heat to see The Found shop in Fullerton (sadly now closed) owned by Jenni from Found Rentals
when we were in California. When my boys questioned why we were driving all the way from San Diego to 'the middle of nowhere' on our holiday just to see a shop, Jonathan replied “for your Mother, it’s like Elvis fans visiting Graceland!”
So I hope that one day I become your Graceland and look forward to seeing you all very soon. X