costing a lot of money.
'It's too expensive' - I hear this too much. From people who just are passing the shop, who don't even cross the threshold! Or from people browsing around the shop, muttering under their breath (I can hear you FYI). So I felt like I needed to address this misconception. I'm in no doubt that other shops similar to mine, who are pioneering craft and handmade products hear this too.
Handmade products might seem costly but here I want to try and explain why they are deemed pricey. I am talking about 'expensive' in regards to craft products.
When you buy something that has been handmade, you are supporting the person who made it. This product has a face (metaphorically) it is not mass produced, on a huge scale. The maker has made this with there own two hands, sometimes with the aid of a machine, or tools of some kind. Each piece they make is unique, they might be similar but they are never exactly the same.
When you buy a handmade product you are paying for the maker's time, their materials, their workshop rent, their passion, their skill. When you buy a mug from no name supermarket (that costs £2) it will be one of millions (resulting in very small production costs). Churned out by a machine with no human interaction. And no love. And NO skill.
If handmade isn't your thing, that's totally fine... but I really feel that this idea that something handmade is 'expensive' needs to be dispelled. It's all relative though isn't it. You could have a small income but if you really appreciate craft, you save up your pennies, so you can treat yourself. If people understand how much work goes into a product maybe they will realise why it costs what it does. It's not 'expensive'. Here's why...
When you buy handmade you are supporting the makers way of life. It's not always easy for small scale makers to earn a living, sometimes having to take on extra part time jobs to allow them to support themselves in addition to their craft.
That's one of the reasons for shops like mine, we are a platform for selling handmade products but also we are educating people. We are spreading the word for the craftspeople. Of course, the shop needs to make money too so buying through Independent shops is a great way to support makers and support the shops too. Otherwise we'll end up with no high street shops and just buying online. And that's just no fun is it?!
There is a huge surge on reducing plastic consumption, so let's also try to be more mindful about where we buy and who we buy from. Yeah? And maybe stop using the word 'expensive' when talking about handmade, traditionally produced items.
Anyhoo, rant over.
'Buy Less, Choose Well' - Vivianne Westwood
Here are some examples of direct comparisons of mass produced items, and handmade items...
I have been sent a selection of pictures from the shop through the ages, i'm not entirely sure of the exact dates but I thought it would be nice to share them with you all.
It seems that not much has really changed in the last 100 years. Shopfronts have been added to and taken away. The George Hotel still stands, and is undergoing work as I type. The monument/fountain (i'm not sure quite what it is) in the middle of the square is still a central point of the town.
The group of photos also include a couple of pictures of my pharmacist predecessors. I am the first shopkeeper in this premises not be in the pharmacy profession, so no pressure. I do get the odd person still thinking i'm the pharmacy!!
First image is of Ivor Reginald Phillips who was working in Axminster in the 30s and the second is of Jim Llewellyn who was his predecessor. I think then the pharmacy was kept in two generations of the Llewellyn family, subsequently being purchased by Ian Morton, which is who I lease the building off. He has moved the pharmacy across the road into the old bank.
I really need to go and find out more from the Heritage Centre which is the fountain of knowledge of all that is Axminster, which is just up the road from the shop itself. Just another reason to visit us!
When I decided I was going to open the shop I viewed the premises and signed the lease within a matter of weeks. It all went very smoothly and I was given the keys on the 1st of May 2018. I knew I wanted to open on the 26th... but I had to work out my notice until the 11th so that didn't leave much time! People were skeptical of my 2 week turnaround plan, they weren't convinced I'd pull it off!
But, on Saturday May 26th I opened the doors to my new venture with so much joy in my heart that I had finally arrived at my realised dream of being a Shopkeeper!
Here are just some pictures I took of the refurbishment, which I did mainly on my own with help from family & friends. It was very hard work! I restored the original floor. The shop has always been a chemist and the beautiful black & white floor had been covered for many years. And there was a lot of painting to be done. Two weeks hard graft really paid off and I am really pleased with the transformed space.
When I opened the shop I knew I wanted to use the space for more than just 'buying things'. My first event idea came even before I had even physically opened the shop! I knew i'd like to host a pamper evening.
An old school friend had decided to add to her repertoire and recently became a Neals Yard rep. Perfect! We discussed potential ideas and the rest fell into place.
The shop was styled my myself, using Grace Alexander's flowers (whose flower seeds are avaiable to buy in the shop). Grace is based only half an hour away in Corfe so I headed off to collect the flowers on the afternoon of the event.
The space was dressed and ready to go for the evening, as the ladies arrived they were greeted with a summery cocktail and seasonal nibbles including figs, as I had a glut of the delicious fruit from my tree at home!
The theme was a guided facial, everyone got to try different Neals Yard wares dependent on their skin type. There was a great range of products from cleansers, facial washes, moisturisers to masks. Ella discussed each item and how best to use them. It was an informative and refreshing evening, full of wonderful smells and it was a great atmosphere. And there was a chance to buy products at the end of the night.
It was a really fabulous evening, which I thoroughly enjoyed hosting. We are planning more pamper evenings, along with a variety of workshops... so watch this space!