Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Moving On

So, what I was talking about yesterday really threw me for a loop (that's a term, right?) and I really wanted some time to just think and regroup but after only a couple of weeks I had a phone call from a woman called Sue.

She'd come in a couple of years ago when I'd only just started about getting a bigger shop. It was a pipe dream back then. I like to do one thing at a time or I end up worrying, thinking too far into the future is a big problem for me. So at that point I was still thinking of buying the business partners out and I couldn't see a way around that to get to the point where I would be ready to buy a new shop. Of course, I could have moved whilst still having business partners but I was aware that every minute that I spent doing work adding value to the business would mean that I would be losing out in terms of having to pay them more.

To be clear, I'm not money grabbing, there's been a lot of talk about money and how not to spend it on these last two blogs, I wish it weren't so but the reality of running a business is that that's what it comes down to. My aim for this shop is to provide me with a reasonable living, whatever that might mean at the time - I'd like to own a house, be clothed and fed, afford a coach trip holiday every year and perhaps support a few other people to do that too with my business. But I have to stay in business to do that. I really enjoy spending the shops money - on wool, obvs, but also there's a sense of pride that I have when the shop buys brilliant things like the stuff I bought at Ikea at the weekend. It was only £60 (although we spent a further £30 on screws and bits and bobs) and it applies to things like the computer, or, hell, anything I buy as a shop. All of this adds value though; it's an investment. Giving money to people just so that they're no longer part of the business isn't adding value as far as I'm concerned, it's wasted money and I'd like to do as little wasting money as possible so that I can put it into the good stuff.

Anyway, I really am tangenting these last couple of days aren't I?! Hmmm.

So, Sue rang me and told me about a shop that was shutting next to hers. The shop is Vintage to a Tea which has already closed. I'd heard about the closure, lots of my friends are into vintage and were very sad. I'd never been, vintage doesn't really come in my size ;), but I knew it was a bigger shop and Sue seemed so positive about me and the shop and the landlord. I was absolutely amazed that she'd remembered me from that long ago! Amazed! So I knew that I had to ring the landlord. I left a message on his phone and then went about my day.


Readers, he rang me back! This just like doesn't happen. I don't know whether it's me or the times that I'm able to ring (i.e. when the shop's not open) or what, but people just don't ring me back. He had to leave a message and then I was going out and didn't have time to get back to him but I was going to in the morning apart from then the morning was busy busy busy and then I forgot. But, he rang me back again! And I got to speak to him and he sounded lovely! I mean, it helps that he sounded lovely but what he was saying about what he provides as a landlord was just incredible! I mean, not really incredible, but reasonable and fair and in relation to landlords (especially commercial landlords) that really is incredible. Ha. I got in contact with my surveyor, the same one, the previous shop wasn't his fault, just to let him know and arranged to go and see the shop.

Just so you've got all of the info, it's on Trinity Walk which is a little cut-through between Upper Parliament Street and Trinity Square. There's another walk called Kings Walk which is bigger and has Long Tall Sally on it but this is the smaller one, packed with little independent shops but there's some fancy new signs been put up and over Christmas they'd fought and won the right to have Christmas trees. Lovely. It's the one, if you know it, that has the pet shop on it which has been there for like ever. I've helpfully made a little map for you:

The current shop is much much further off the map. Look how close the new shop is to the Victoria Centre! Genuinely, like two minutes away. I do know that the John Lewis staff often send people our way but I can only imagine that people begin to peel off as they realise that they have to walk up a hill. I feel like that sometimes too. Haha. My main problem with the spot is that it's not on a big main road. One of the things that has really benefitted us is that we're on so many bus routes and even have a bus stop right outside. You can park on the street, not for free, and constantly changing charges (thanks Nottingham City Council) but at least you can park. In this new shop, there is parking just around two minutes away at the Trinity Square car park, or at the Victoria Centre although it seems like more of an effort to park in one of those than to just nip in off the street. I suspect though, that people in cars will start to see the shop as somewhere that they can go when they're in town shopping so they won't be parking just to see us. People on buses are generally closer to us anyway, most of the buses that go past the shop now go down Upper Parliament Street so we don't lose those, we're barely further way from the Victoria Centre Bus Station just the other way down and we're definiteley closer to the buses on the square and Broadmarsh. In terms of people on foot, I reckon most come from town end so they're in for a treat. Also, the less exercise my customers get, the fatter the get, the more wool they get. Brill!

I've done a lot of thinking about this, I've taken a lot of advice (nobody asked if I wanted it, I asked and they gave ;) ), I think I'm happy.

Now, in terms of the shop. I didn't step in and love it. I see this as a brilliant thing. If any of you have heard about how me and Chris met, it was a blind date and I was so unsure of him in the first instance that I was about to run out the door, haha, but I didn't, I saw a little spark and stayed. I saw a little spark in this shop. It's a strange shape which I can work with. It was a little bit dark which I think I can sort out. It's a little dilapidated which I'll either sort out or keep because I like it. The vintage shop has had a lot of trouble with leaks. I've researched as extensively as I can, my surveyor has talked to the business owner involved and I've spoken to other business owners on the street and the landlord as well as scrolling through countless facebook pages. Most of the leaks were like freak accidents (I liked when the landlord said 'that can't be legislated for', whilst I agree with him I loved the fact that he used that word and used it correctly!). The couple that weren't, I'm happy that the landlord dealt with appropriately. I also think we're in a better position to stand that because our stock can be replaced if needs be, beautiful Victorian gowns can't. I feel so deeply for the vintage shop, she'd built a beautiful business with a loyal fanbase but sometimes, life does just doesn't pan out how it was meant to and I hope she goes on to do something that she loves and it works out. I can't shake the feeling of being a vulture but.... business has to go on and in this market, you snooze, you lose.

So, whilst being aware of some issues, and side-eyeing my savings pot, I told my surveyor to go ahead with an offer. We got the offer in before Christmas because I was aware that there was another party interested in the shop. Happily, the landlord owns the rest of the street so he's aware not only of what would or would not work but also his duty to 'curate' the street so that every business works. This was a little bit hanging over me over Christmas but mostly it felt like the right thing to do and I started to allow myself to think about how I would work with the space. I have ideas and they involved shelves, many many shelves. The offer has been nominally accepted as of last week although there's still time for it to go pear shaped. I'm meeting with the landlord, his agent and my surveyor on Thursday and if that goes well it's a case of getting the terms over to a solicitor and let them deal with it.

For now, there's very little I can do. I'm still saving the money, I've rebranded the money box that we've had in the shop since the beginning as the 'new shop fund':

It's kind of been the new shop fund for a while, I have no idea how much is in there, but it will be opened in order for me to buy stuff for the new shop. I'm also mulling around in my head some sort of crowd-funding/kickstarter thing inspired by what Amy did with My bank keeps offering me money, I'm saving like a little save-a-tron, Chris has offered me a loan and I'll do my best to keep costs reasonable but this has come more suddenly than I was expecting and I'm still not sure of how much I'll need so it's all very scary. I like the idea of different levels of stuff that can get that different amounts bring, does that make any sense? So for like £1000 worth of support I can move into the shop without going into debt, for £2000 I can do that and redo the lighting for £3000 I can do all of this and go on a coach trip. Haha. Not really, there'll be no holiday for me this year! But you get what I'm saying? Although, I haven't worked out the levels yet. I'm also aware that not everybody has spare money even though they might support the shop if they did so even though I'm musing about this, please be aware that the best thing that you can do to support the shop (in this place or the new one) is buy from us and talk about us to anybody that might be interested. Anything like putting money into the shop fund or a crowd funding type thing is extra - we appreciate you all, even the skint ones. :)

Again, I feel like I've jibber jabbered so I'm going to put this here and write some more to be posted tomorrow. I will get around the summing up last year, maybe?

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxx


  1. Run a Patreon! It's a great idea! xoxo

  2. I am a teeenie bit sad that you are not in the old shop I 'fell into' one day but knowing all the details about the new shop and the process involved makes me feel excited for you! I definitely relate to trying to find you after getting directions from John Lewis and an art [?] shop! Especially as I was wandering around a very foreign town let alone country! Keep up the great work you are doing and may you have every bit of the success that you deserve!!

  3. This sounds really exciting. A kickstarter is a great idea.

  4. Exciting, and Kickstarter a great idea!