The continuing adventures of a small enterprise
5.06.2013 | Makepiece arrives in Buxton
We've been thinking for a while that we need to grow. It's a bit of a mystery how to do this in these straightened times - there are no straightforward routes - so we had to look at what's worked best.
Our shop in Hebden Bridge was definitely the best thing we've done so far - it's increased our sales and reached many more people than we'd hoped, even despite the floods last year. So we decided to try and establish another shop. There's nowhere quite like Hebden but we searched for somewhere that had some of the appeal and the broad mix of people who troop through the town on weekends away, days out and 'meet you for lunch' dates.
After many trips around the area (and even into the sunny south) we hit on Buxton as a good place to plant our first foot out of Yorkshire. A spa town, it has all the glorious Georgian and Victorian architecture that implies. It's not just buildings though. There are hotels, two great venues; the Buxton Opera House and the Pavilions; the Art Gallery, the University of Derby as well as the original Spa building; the Crescent which is being renovated this year. We decided that we weren't quite ready for a big city, but that Buxton is a perfect size to grow into.
We looked at a few shops but the one that appealed most was in the Cavendish Arcade. The arcade is part of the original spa, now converted into a shopping arcade but retaining the spa architecture and its lovely pale aquamarine tiles. It's been given a bit of a makeover lately and is bright and beautiful, and populated with other independent shops.
Our shop is on the outer edge, on the main route into Buxton - so highly visible!
Having got all excited about our idea, there followed a few nail-biting months putting together a business plan, getting funding and negotiating a lease.
Last week we finally signed a lease on 4a The Colonnade, Buxton SK17 and frantic preparations began.
I'd discussed the project with Jim Leach, furniture maker extraordinaire, who came up with designs for bespoke rails and store furniture for us. With everything on go, we needed to get them in super fast so that we will be able to start trading very soon.
Jim moved with lightening speed and our beautiful fittings were in in a jiffy. If only we could say the same for a phone line. Behemoth institutions move at a much slower pace. It takes the council to register the address with Royal Mail before the phone line appointment can even be made. Despite the man from the council being prompt, the next links in the chain total 3 weeks! It may be a while before we're taking credit card payments.
Jim even helped us design and make our own hangers - branded with our little Makepiece sheep.
Meanwhile, we're not sitting still. There's another day of work left to press everything in the shop and put up our beautiful imagery. The signwriter still has to call, the mirrors to be installed, but everything is on track.
We'll be open next week, with a proper grand opening planned for later in the month. Watch this space!