Monday, June 06, 2011

A Nation of Shopkeepers

Update: 7th June - I just wanted to stop-by my blog again to thank all who have left messages to this post. I have edited my ramblings as it was brought to my attention that some of my thoughts came across as negative. This was not my intention - I fight for my shop's survival every day - My regular blog posts were testament to that, as I have always found Blogging a great way to advertise my business and to meet wonderful like-minded people.
I want to see our British high streets survive and prosper and will continue to be passionate about the small independent shops that keep our towns unique.
My original post - 6th June am.
This is a continuation of the post I wrote last Saturday. Having now received several emails on the subject, of the difficulties faced by small independent retailers, I wanted to add a follow-up to my sentiments:
Go to an averagely-sized town, or to any city, and you will, no doubt, find a WHSmiths (newsagents), Boots (chemist), Marks & Spencer (clothes and home) and probably several chain/franchise eateries. What you may not encounter are small, interesting independent retailers with something different on offer.
Of course shopping isn't the number one concern for most of us, but with town centres on a general decline, particularly those that have little to offer tourists, it is in my view criminal to lose the capability towns have to bring people from the local community together, and also the general services and the job creation/investment that the average high street should be able to provide.
During a particularly quiet week, last week, I closed my doors briefly to go and chat with Mandy and Zoe, proprietors of WooHoo!, who are just around the corner from my shop.
The girls opened the 70's style retro boutique late last year, taking it on as it was in the final episode of BBC's TV series 'Turn Back Time; The High Street' - the 1970's. Even with this fortuitous link and excellent promotional opportunity, they are finding the current climate difficult and are worried that they may have to close the doors to their dream shop very soon.
Its difficult to understand why, but the general low footfall on Shepton's High Street has its effect -They have some great stock and their prices are extremely enticing. If more people knew they were here, I'm sure they would soon have a long list of happy customers, making regular trips to buy their next season's wardrobe.
Whilst I was there I bought this sweet violet brooch - At just £3, it certainly didn't break the bank.
Shepton needs to become a destination for vintage/antiques, interiors and artisan. I feel a butchers shop for example, would struggle in the town, as they would be unable to compete with the large, out-of-town sized(!) supermarket (whose name begins with 'T'!), which unfortunately is within a stones-throw of the high street.
It is sad to think that the new found excitement and renewed interest in the town by its local residents, generated by the TV series, has already dwindled. The public meetings that were arranged after the filming, generally have led to nothing, so far.
I now strongly believe it will be small business owners and entrepreneurs who will change the town, not the local councils or action groups.
If you happen to be in the area, please pay a visit to WooHoo - They need your support.
In my own little shop, I feel lucky that I opened my doors last year and was able to accumulate some now regular customers who love what I do - To be on the Market Place during the filming last summer, did bring me extra custom and it helped me a lot to get my small business known to some of the local people.

That's not to say it is easy for me, but each day I do my best and get a lot of enjoyment from my shop and its visitors.

Occasionally my mind wanders and I start to imagine having my business in a more touristy area, but know that with that comes higher rents and business rates. (Not to mention business insurance, landlord's service charges, electricity/water bills, advertising etc...etc...)
I was reminded of this when Holly left a comment on Saturday's post. She and her husband recently opened a wonderful vintage shop in Wimbledon. I thought surely things must be better for retail within the London area, but I soon discovered that Nicholas & Steele struggle with low footfall too.
Here is the comment that Holly left on my blog last week:
'Hi Niki
We have a vintage shop in West Wimbledon, London. Please take comfort that you are not alone. We have noticed such a change in people's shopping habits this year. It is as if the tap was just 'turned off' in February.I have blogged about this too. It is soul destroying when you follow a dream and what we do is so incredibly personal it's hard not to take it personally. My husband and I feel at times like we are throwing a party and nobody has bothered to come but all the businesses in our little parade of shops are battling. This is a time for courage and camaraderie.Please hang in there, your shop is beautiful and an inspiration to so many.
Much love, Holly Nicholas-Steele'

*
I echo Holly's feelings and am also encouraged by her...I continue to sew every day, to create usable one-of-a-kind items to entice customers to my shop. To reuse old fabrics, buttons and trims feels right to me and at the same time as recycling, I hope that I am creating something genuinely unique for a new owner to enjoy and appreciate.
I am always grateful for the customers through my door - I hope I have always made everyone who comes inside feel welcome. These are tough times, I know not just for retail, but I see battles that can be fort and won.
*
**
I am a big fan of Mary Portas - London's leading retail marketing consultant. She has been challenged by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to undertake an independent review on the Future of the High Street - To help 'bring back the bustle' to our town centres.
I hope that the government will listen and act on what Mary has to say and won't be influenced by the big supermarket chains and how they feel about her review, as I suspect it will be them who will not like all that she suggests.
If Mary were to visit Shepton Mallet, I would like to think that she would be encouraged by the obvious camaraderie and general positive attitude that many of the small independent shops have for the future of the town.
Shepton Mallet has started to re-brands itself as a destination for quality vintage/antique, interior and artisan shops, so I think it has a viable future. Whilst customers visit these shops, they will also stop-by and use the numerous cafes, visit its charity shops, and those retailers carrying more 'everyday' merchandise, as well as the regular Friday Market, so that all will benefit.
The make-do-and-mend/recycling/repurposing ethos is a great concept to take a town forward with.
This Friday (10th June), the new Somerset Antiques & Interiors shop opens its doors for the first time. The fact that this well known business (previously The Wells Emporium) has chosen to leave Wells and start afresh in Shepton Mallet, is excellent news for the town. I have heard that it has already encouraged other business owners to consider setting up on Shepton's High Street, which is very exciting news. The ball has started to roll and we will soon be running with it.
I'd like to wish 'Somerset Antiques & Interiors' every success in their smart new location.
**
I've been writing my blog for almost 5 years and have notched-up over 800 posts on my two blogs combined. I am very grateful to all who visit.
I'm going to take a break for a short while (I'll be back on the 20th!) and concentrate on my business, possibly using my time better to start to re-fill my on-line shop's catalogue. I'll continue to add photos to my other blog of my latest handmade creations, as this is useful to me and my on-line customers as a gallery. (It can be accessed via my website, by clicking the 'gallery' link.)
I hope not to be away too long and I shall be back when the time is right, hopefully with lots of good news about the continued regeneration of Shepton Mallet and the survival of its independent shops.
Niki x
Update: 6th June pm.
I feel a need to reply to the two who left anonymous comments:
Thank you for your comments.
1. I made a profit in my first year of trading in Shepton Mallet and I still am doing so. (Even though I only open 4 days a week.) The only way I am subsidising my dream is in man-hours.
If the town can get more visitors to its High Street, then I shall be more successful. If you were to visit SM, then you would see how low the footfall is, and would understand when I say the only way is up.
2. I am tied into a lease, so need to make it work. I won't be closing my shop's doors for an easy cop-out option.
3. I have sold at fairs, flea markets, on-line etc etc for years. I still attend a few fairs each year alongside my shop, so know the trade from all angles. Fairs are not the answer, as sales in the SW are down at them too.
4. I can't skip back and forth over the channel, as I have family commitments.
5. I DO sell to trade - they come into my shop because they know my prices are reasonable.
6. Handmade is DEFINITELY still my 'thing'. I have been making and selling my rag dolls for MANY years. Interest has not dwindled and they continue to be my best sellers. I sell more of my hand made stock than I do my vintage goods, which is why I spend much of my time sewing and creating. Visit Mary Portas' website and read her views on hand made items. She has a finger on the pulse and definitely does not see handmade treasures as 'not the thing'.
7. The cottage look is still wanted by many visitors to my shop. I regularly sell rustic furniture and gardenalia. One of my most successful friends in the business (with her husband) makes a living from cottage style and has never wavered from it. If you love vintage, you won't be swayed by what's 'in' or 'cool', but will always stick by what you love.
8. I understand my shop is not to everyone's taste. I personally couldn't live in a contemporary home, so will never buy modern goods from the big chains.
Having received a lot of feedback from those who visit my shop, (and who now regularly come back because they like what I do) I know I am doing it right. They love to reminisce about some of the items for sale...'wow factors' aren't what I'm aiming for...I am looking for simple pleasures, such as the happiness of finding a brooch similar to one worn by a grandmother, or a piece that offers a reminder of childhood. Happy memories rekindled.
8. I sold on-line for over 8 years and during that time I became very isolated at home. (I actually find that running a successful website is more work than a physical shop.)
This will mean that having goods for sale on-line, as well as in my shop will be difficult. To juggle everything on my own will be difficult, but I shall do my best.

My blog post was not meant to be downbeat. I am happy doing what I do - I am following my dream and believe in it. If Shepton can now start to regenerate, then we can all be successful in the town. There has been a lot of interest in the empty shops these last couple of months - Probably due to the arrival of the large antiques business that I mentioned is moving in. I think this is the start to the town becoming re-branded as a destination for vintage/antiques/interiors/artisan.

As far as my blog is concerned; Over the past year it has had to become a platform for me to advertise my shop...and it has worked. I realise that if you are unable to visit my shop, then the updates related to it would be of little interest.
I don't have time for my home and garden these days, as the shop has had to become number one, so posts about these would be impossible to write. No one wants to read about me doing the housework on my days off!
I'm sorry that I haven't been able to return comments very often and realise that this means some will give up on me. There's very little I can do about that. Sometimes 'real' life is more important!
Thanks to all who stop by my blog, leave a comment or not, or have been there for me with emails.
I am feeling positive and know that running a shop is the right thing for me at this stage of my life. Its the economy that is against me/us at the moment, and so, given time, things will improve.
I'll be back on-line soon.
Niki x

77 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:18 pm

    Hi dont publish this ok. I read where you said yr blog readers are less, include me, I use to always read yr posts but hardly ever do now, they are (no offence) same same every time I enjoyed yr posts about yr home, yr gardens etc but now it seems your blog has taken a different slant, which I can understand, but one that Im not interested in. I have looked at the pics of yr store, nice but average, its kinda missing the wow factor. Your stock is nice but people can buy those sorta things at markets etc you need to find a niche in the market and cater to that Maybe more classy antique furniture or going french provincal. The cottage look is now kinda old and people are streamlining so less bric a brac, more larger pieces?

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  2. Niki I do so hope your shop and Woo Hoo and High Street will keep going.I watched that show on telly and really hoped they would do something to keep it going.I am not a fan of large shopping centres at all everything is th esame old. I too prefer shops that are differnt and individual.I hope that one day I can visit the UK and come and say hi and you will be doing wonderfully well.Give the Woo Hoo girls my best wishes as well.
    xxxx Nelly

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  3. Hi Niki,

    I always read your blog although don't always comment and i will certainly keep my fingers crossed for busier times for you.

    I have one of your large dolls,a cushion,spooly doll,bag,photo album and calender and i purchased all these on your online shop,i always check to see if there is any stock in your shop and am always a little disappointed when there isn't,so to see you may restock is fantastic news for me as in the current climate to drive from Leeds to Shepton Mallet and stay at a guest house is out of the question although i have thought/dreamt about it,
    Love Kristina x

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  4. Hi Niki
    I'm absolutely delighted to hear that you will be re-stocking your online shop. I have bought a number of items from you that way in the past and I always love looking at your shop stock in your blog photos. Mr VG and I consciously try to buy vintage and handmade items (usually via Folksy)for gifts and presents etc. The high street giants hold no interest to me anymore, particularly as now they all seem to be stocked to the rafters with tat from overseas!

    I do so hope that sales pick-up for you and I'm sure you know that the blogging ladies are behind you 100%!

    Love Gill - The Vintage Gardener

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  5. Oh I do hope business picks up soon!
    I really wish I had the where withall to visit,even live down your way, but times are financially extremely difficult for me, my health is not so good either. Currently unemployed and not yet getting any Benefit.
    Still, I love to 'windowshop'on your blog, would that I could really shop!
    Take care,

    Sandie xx

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  6. Anonymous3:57 pm

    Nikki - You're living the dream, but it's your dream not everyones. Yes we enjoy reading your blog and in part we share your dream but for us it's free, we can log in and out whenever we want for a quick vintage "fix" but for you it's heartbreaking and no doubt you are subsidising your dream every week.
    Shops are not the way forward, if you want to continue in the vintage field then do what I do - buy at the carboots, fleamarkets, wherever and sell directly onto the dealers (not the public) and let them have the outlay of cash and the burden of moving it on. Smaller profits but quicker turnover, no premises to pay for, your day is your own. Take a trip over the channel and load up - do Malvern - really just please yourself, you have loads of contacts no doubt who will buy from you
    Handmade really isn't the thing anymore - no-one wants to pay for the hours sat at a sewing machine, those days sadly have gone.

    Good luck I hope you find a path which brings you both happiness and profit.
    P.S. Following your blog I have never known anyone who is constantly on the go as you are - wish I had your energy !

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  7. I'm sorry to hear you are finding it so hard, Niki, I really don't think people necessarily have the expendable income anymore for pretty items in the way they used to and I don't think you would find yourself alone in noticing sales down. I do hope that Shepton as a town can turn itself round as I think that is probably the issue for your business. I think your shop is fab but it's the only thing I would go to Shepton for (other than the antiques/collectors fairs on a Sunday which then means I don't get to your shop). Hopefully, the new antiques shop may mark the start of something. Somebody said to me recently that Frome used to be a "dump" and yet ten years on, it has enough shops of the vintagey/gifty nature (and good eateries) to make a stand alone trip there worthwhile. Of course, these are challenging times to last out ten years!

    I would definitely go back to doing more in the way of internet selling. There simply is very little outlay, you reach a very wide audience and it's also not so much effort as running a real shop/trekking to fairs.

    As to the blog thing, I think probably just as many people still read your blog but for me, I have noticed very few take the time to post a comment. I know there are now so many blogs out there but sometimes, I really wish more people would give something back by way of comment/communication otherwise it can feel a bit pointless and unrewarding and it's difficult to find the motivation to blog. That said, once you've taken the time to photograph and write the blog, it is very hard to find time to get back to all the commenters and so maybe they give up?!
    Best of luck!
    hen xxx

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  8. Hello Niki
    I can very well understand why you are feeling demoralised by the lack of trade especially when you have put your heart and soul into your beautiful business. I really believe that the downturn in sales for everyone is sadly indicative of the times we are living in and few people have the pennies to spare that they had a couple of years ago. I am currently trying to sell my home and we are not getting the viewers through the door despite it being a sellers market. Times is hard.. sadly and this crosses all markets.
    My blog visits have been sporadic over the last year and I cannot blame anyone for not visiting or leaving a comment on mine as I have prioritised other areas of my life that were being neglected.
    Have hope and 'don't give up' as my dear father would often say. We will ride these times and hopefully all come out intact on the other side.
    Michele xx

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  9. We used to have a menswear shop then had a pine furniture and teddy bear shop, a distant memory now. Bears sales have dropped off but then I have had a break from them too.

    I do hope Shepton can turn around. Unless people speak out things will just get worse. Our high streets need help from the councils and government. So many empty shops...

    But....when hubby buys all his clothes on the interent now, is it any wonder we no longer have the menswear shop?

    Take care.

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  10. I understand exactly what you're saying.
    Here in France there is such a shortage of individual shops like yours and so many I love when I go back to the UK.
    One of my favourite places is Bishop's Castle - how they keep it all together is amazing as its a tiny place virtually in the middle of nowhere, on Friday there is a great little market.

    On a slightly different tack I find it SO HARD to get more followers for my blog.
    I try hard to make it interesting but after just over a year I'm still below 20 followers.
    I look at some with hundreds and thousands and wonder just HOW they do it.
    However I'll just keep trying and hope you do the same.
    One day I hope I'll come to Shepton Mallet and if I do I hope you'll still be there.

    Be brave and hang on in there.

    Diane. x

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  11. To Nostalgia,

    As an Ex-Pat it has been a pleasure to visit your blog and discover all that your lovely shoppe has to offer!
    I am truly sorry to hear you are not going to blog for awhile but with the economy being what it is, I understand your energy needs to be redirected and I will be watching for a quick comeback!
    I too watch my pennies but rest assured many thinks like me, a small shoppe is still the best!
    I hate the large department stores and shy away from the hustle and bustle!
    As to blogging, please remember for many of us, particularly the ones who have no access to such a shopping experience, "window shopping" keeps us going! Yours has been a delight to follow so please come back soon!
    Blessings,

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  12. Dear Niki,
    so many critical comments from anonymous people... they certainly have never visited your delightful shop! But some ingredients of all comments are right: times are what they are and we, who follow your blog regularly (sorry to not commenting every time but the number of your followers is the important bit, I find) can only say that I admire how much time you can spend for the "outside world" by opening the shop, blogging and keeping your family and home happy. A-MA-ZING!!! You are incredible! I am certain that it would be great to have more possibility of online-shopping for us who are so far and cannnot just pop into your shop as we would like to. So, please try that route as well. For the rest, that it is so hard times to keep towns interesting, I can only say that I do see a big difference between the UK and mainland Europe. I do most of my orders online. I save so much time, fuel and effort by doing so. I was delighted to get the Farrow & Ball painting you recommended! It arrived next day in the UK, much less costly than if it was delivered to Belgium. As we had to go to the UK, it was perfect to do it in this way.
    I LOVE YOUR BLOG, I LOVE YOUR SHOP and I wish you to have more prosperous times ahead to compensate on all your efforts. You deserve it, Niki. I hope to see you soon again :-)

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  13. I feel a need to reply to the two who left anonymous comments:
    Thank you for your comments.
    1. I made a profit in my first year of trading in Shepton Mallet and I still am doing so. (Even though I only open 4 days a week.) The only way I am subsidising my dream is in man-hours.
    If the town can get more visitors to its High Street, then I shall be more successful. If you were to visit SM, then you would see how low the footfall is, and would understand when I say the only way is up.
    2. I am tied into a lease, so need to make it work. I won't be closing my shop's doors for an easy cop-out option.
    3. I have sold at fairs, flea markets, on-line etc etc for years. I still attend a few fairs each year alongside my shop, so know the trade from all angles. Fairs are not the answer, as sales in the SW are down at them too.
    4. I can't skip back and forth over the channel, as I have family commitments.
    5. I DO sell to trade - they come into my shop because they know my prices are reasonable.
    6. Handmade is DEFINITELY still my 'thing'. I have been making and selling my rag dolls for MANY years. Interest has not dwindled and they continue to be my best sellers. I sell more of my hand made stock than I do my vintage goods, which is why I spend much of my time sewing and creating. Visit Mary Portas' website and read her views on hand made items. She has a finger on the pulse and definitely does not see handmade treasures as 'not the thing'.
    7. The cottage look is still wanted by many visitors to my shop. I regularly sell rustic furniture and gardenalia. One of my most successful friends in the business (with her husband) makes a living from cottage style and has never wavered from it. If you love vintage, you won't be swayed by what's 'in' or 'cool', but will always stick by what you love.
    8. I understand my shop is not to everyone's taste. I personally couldn't live in a contemporary home, so will never buy modern goods from the big chains.
    Having received a lot of feedback from those who visit my shop, (and who now regularly come back because they like what I do) I know I am doing it right. They love to reminisce about some of the items for sale...'wow factors' aren't what I'm aiming for...I am looking for simple pleasures, such as the happiness of finding a brooch similar to one worn by a grandmother, or a piece that offers a reminder of childhood. Happy memories rekindled.
    8. I sold on-line for over 8 years and during that time I became very isolated at home. (I actually find that running a successful website is more work than a physical shop.)
    This will mean that having goods for sale on-line, as well as in my shop will be difficult. To juggle everything on my own will be difficult, but I shall do my best.
    Niki

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  14. My blog post was not meant to be downbeat. I am happy doing what I do - I am following my dream and believe in it. If Shepton can now start to regenerate, then we can all be successful in the town. There has been a lot of interest in the empty shops these last couple of months - Probably due to the arrival of the large antiques business that I mentioned is moving in. I think this is the start to the town becoming re-branded as a destination for vintage/antiques/interiors/artisan.

    As far as my blog is concerned; Over the past year it has had to become a platform for me to advertise my shop...and it has worked. I realise that if you are unable to visit my shop, then the updates related to it would be of little interest.
    I don't have time for my home and garden these days, as the shop has had to become number one, so posts about these would be impossible to write. No one wants to read about me doing the housework on my days off!
    I'm sorry that I haven't been able to return comments very often and realise that this means some will give up on me. There's very little I can do about that. I prefer to comment on my 'physical friends' blogs, rather than on 'cyber friends' as to me, 'real' life is more important.
    Thanks to all who stop by my blog, leave a comment or not, or have been there for me with emails.
    I am feeling positive and know that running a shop is the right thing for me at this stage of my life. Its the economy that is against me/us at the moment, and so, given time, things will improve.
    I'll be back on-line soon.
    Niki x

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  15. Anonymous8:00 pm

    Hello Niki and those like me who have followed "Nostagia" maybe everyday or only a couple of times .
    I've read the update and sitting here knitting , watching "Spring Watch" and thinking "How can I/we help Niki or Niki help us ?
    We may not be able to get to the shop,but we would like to, Niki spends agaes making ,finding interesting lovelies and turning the key in the shop lock to live her dream.
    I/we would like to buy and Niki finds it hard to replace items in the "Catalogue" for us to buy.
    I have a thought , today Niki you have put up on the blog a number of photos of the shop , some are close ups of areas , it may be selving or a cupboard, if these photos are "clicked " its like being in the shop ! "OO thats nice" "Thats what I have been looking for "

    Would it be possable to sell from these photos ? It would save time uploading for the catalogue . It would mean "we" contacted you to say we would like to know about the item and the price. And pay by paypal or other means of payment.

    Im not sure if it would work , but just a thought . . .
    "Keep smiling your amazing. . "

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  16. Hi Niki, I have had so much pleasure reading your blog, seeing all your finds, enjoying your creativity. I am guilty of not leaving comments but I am always eager to see if you have posted. I certainly think that an online shop would be useful for us who live far away but would still like to own your beauties. With regard to our High Street it has taken some 20yrs plus to kill them off. When the first of the supermarkets and large outlets moved out of town centres to retail parks shoppers no longer had the need to go into the town. The 'powers that be' should have known the long term impact this would have on the individual shop keepers as we the shoppers had to change the way we all did our shopping. It seems ridiculous now but we did not all have access to cars back them and getting to these retail parks proved difficult. Like all things we had no choice but to addapt. Anyway thats enough of my ramblings. Please do not get disheartened follow your dream and supplement your income by online. Best wishes, Lynne

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  17. Hi there, I made a decision a few years back to use friendly little independent shops as much as I could, although having a large family means I still have to use the big place beginning with T. However for me is trying to find a parking space anywhere near a shop in my own town is virtually impossible, whereas the big out of town shops have lots easy parking, I don't know if you have a similar problem in Shepton Mallet? It's certainly killing off any sense of community in my own town.

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  18. Thank you anonymous! Yes, I am always more than happy (of course!) to sell from my secondary blog. I have several customers who shop with me this way. I communicate via email and send out invoices via PayPal (or I can accept cheques within the UK) to include P&P costs.
    Anyone wishing to do so can contact me via email - The link is on my blog profile, or on my website's contact details.

    Thanks very much for your continued interest in what I make and do,
    Niki x

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  19. I just wanted to say that I really admire the work that you put into your shop and handmade items, you are an inspiration. I am knew to blogging but I regularly read you blog, find it interesting, love looking at your shop, and the furniture make overs. Blogging is a strange thing, don't you think? It is impossible to please all people all of the time.
    It is the world we live in, huge supermarket chains, and a throw away mentality that are killing our high streets. So Hurray for people like you, for crafts men and women who are rekindling old crafts and skills. You hold in there, let's just hope times are a changing..... and I wish you all the very best in your buisness. x you deserve it xx
    Sophie

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  20. Dear Niki
    There is so much here ... I'm not sure what to offer, but just want to say:
    Being bold, being authentic, being different - it's always hard (I've been there!) it pleases some, mystifies others, but more than anything else it is the real life pulse genuinely beating through someone which makes a person special... yes, you! Thank you for being so open and bold, keep doing your own unique thing as it can only be the right thing for you. That's all that matters, in the end.
    Sending you a big hug,
    D xx
    "Leap and a net will appear" (from The Artists Way) ... your net is growing and expanding, keep smiling and reaching for your dreams :-)
    Take care xx

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  21. Dawn Robson9:38 pm

    Hi Niki,
    I check in on your blog every day to see if there is an update because I love it so much. When my parents were terminally ill it gave me such pleasure to read your website and forget all the bad things just for a moment.
    I would love to have a business like yours but I'm not clever enough to make all those gorgeous treasures. I have been to your shop and it is lovely, a piece of heaven. It isn't very near to me so I don't get to visit as often as I would like to. The people who left anonymous messages don't seem to understand your love and passion for your work. Your prices are so reasonable, you are never greedy and people appreciate that.
    Please don't give up blogging, your entries are never boring and I love to hear about places that you have visited or the plants in your garden. Best Wishes Dawn Robson

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  22. I love your blog and loved my visit over a year ago. When my husband planned out England trip he asked me what I wanted to see and your shop was at the head of the list. My handmade doll sits in my diningroom and I must say that I was pleased to pay what I did for her and for the other items that I bought. Your quality is high. Shepton Mallet is a diamond in the rough. But a diamond still. Wish you the best of luck and will still be reading when you get back.

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  23. I love your blog Niki. Truthfully it is one of favourites. I always come away feeling inspired to be creative. Hang in there and good luck:)

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  24. Hi Niki.
    I read your post ...
    I'm so sorry for this bad time, even here in Italy the moment is very very bad! :o((
    But I beg you to resist, your store is wonderful and consistency is always the winner.
    I hope to return soon to SM, I count the days ....;o))
    A best wishes, Maria.
    (with translator)

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  25. Having ventured out your way last summer I think the south west is a great destination for vintage shops. Perhaps a "vintage trail' could be mapped and publicised?

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  26. Well, I for one always admire those that follow their dreams - be it smallholding in Wales, climbing mountains or opening a lovely shop.
    I am proud of you Niki & I think that the trend towards homemade & local is growing rather than fading away, as is the vintage & country style of decorating. Our fair on Saturday was full of appreciative shoppers & they were parting with their cash, so buyers are still out there.

    I wish you nothing but the best of luck in your ventures.

    Jayne
    x

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  27. Hi Niki,

    wow there has certainly been some interesting comments. You can't please everyone, but you are not forcing anyone to read your blog, so its your right to choose what you put on. Bully for you. I like seeing all the new stock in the shop even if I can't be there myself.

    I have been an avid reader of your blog for a long time now, sometimes I leave comments, sometimes not, but I always enjoy your posts. I bought your lovely book for xmas the year before last and it is still one of my favourites.

    A local shop recently closed here also (Country town in New South Wales, Australia) which is a shame as I always bought bits and pieces there. I like to support our local businesses even though Canberra is only a 30 minute drive away.

    I too (as with Nelly) watched the High Street and thought it was very interesting and am saddened that the local people have let it fizzle out.

    We are coming to the UK in 12 weeks time and have planned our holiday around visiting your shop and Shepton Mallet, so are looking forward to buying some of your lovely stock.

    I hope you and the other businesses can get the support you need, if I lived closer your shop would be my regular haunt.

    So Keep Calm and Carry on I say :) hopefully see you soon, Tamara x

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  28. Hi Mum,

    I read every single post. I love your blog, and I may be biased because I am your daughter, but I love the way you write and the pretty photos! I am very very proud of you and love telling people about what my mum 'does'.

    I wish there were more independent shops about. I was on the hunt for some summer shorts at the weekend, turned up nothing in New Look, Matalan and Dorothy Perkins, but found some gorgeous ones in an independent boutique. I wish other people shared this thinking!

    Don't let other people get you down!

    I have an idea about selling online, I will call soon!

    Love you! xxx

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  29. Redwood House12:33 pm

    Hi Nicky

    I join the many who have always enjoyed your blog but I do understand the time involved I stopped mine because of the time factor but I do miss it and often think about starting again, your wonderful shop is a treasure, unfortunately for me it is rather a trek but the twice I have called in it has been a delightful experiance.

    I do hope you can ride out the storm...

    Jan (Redwood House)

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  30. I always read your blog but think this is the first time I have commented.

    I'd also like to see a link to show items for sale.

    A couple of months ago I went to Hungerford en route to Newbury, especially to see the antique/junk shops there. It was a Friday and I couldn't believe how quiet it was, I thought it would have been heaving.

    I think vintage is an acquired taste, none of my friends share my love of it and can't understand my excitement for pre-loved.

    Please continue with your lovely blog xx

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  31. Anonymous1:41 pm

    Hello Niki, I regularly read your blog which I love, and also your shop which I would visit if I lived close by. Last year I went on a Mary Portas course in conjunction with the retail skills acadamy and they often email me with info and I thought this may be of interest to you, maybe you could take a look- www.skillsmartretail.com/independentsday. Kind regards, Gill.

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  32. Anonymous4:43 pm

    Hi Niki
    I see my blog has prompted a great response from you - well done - now you're not so downbeat but in fighting mood.
    My comments were only as an indication of what else could be achieved and my perception of how things have changed over the last few years regarding handmade and not getting the rewards due for these plus the expense of having a shop.
    I have been there and done it - I had a shop for several years and then got out when tastes changed, the economy worsened and the income fell and started what I do now as previously mentioned in my earlier post. I have never looked back and sell only to the trade.

    As to not knowing Shepton, well it's just up the road from me, and I've visited it a number of times. I live at Blagdon and feel I can comment on what a very quiet town it is for the traders with apart from yourself and one or two other shops nothing much to tempt me to visit more often.

    Good luck with your shop and reading the other posts it seems you have loads of followers - now if all those followers turned into customers ????

    Jan
    (Anonymous only because I don't have a google account or blog !)

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  33. Hi Niki - well, I sympathise, I really do. Firstly, may I say I love your blog: yours is always the first I turn to. I love your handmade dolls and bags, your originality and your stamina - I can't even sew on a button!

    We had a large antique shop in Wiltshire and struggled - it was a relief to let it go and start elsewhere - France. We built up an English book business for the ex-pats, having book fairs in hotels and restaurants and were doing fine until a policeman objected to our using the English language on a poster, took us to court and then we were fined and closed down. So, for the next two years, we 'enjoyed' a forced paid/dole holiday, thanks to the French social services and taxpayers. Doesn't do much for one's pride, or serve as an example to the kids though...

    But then, the French govt brought out a new system for small businesses, so off we went again, and have been building up an on-line vintage French and book business. We are not rich - we scrape a living to pay our bills, but at least the taxes are now paid by us. My point to all this waffle is that it will turn around for you I'm sure. Just stick with it - and that goes for us all trying to make a living in these difficult times - and lets hope the Ikeas and Tescos of the world (boy, they have got a lot to answer for) go completely out of fashion and the world turns again to pretty!!!

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  34. Julie-Oxford7:24 pm

    Hi Niki, I have for some time purchased your wonderful handmade creations and it is a huge pleasure to own them...I will continue to do so. I have thoroughly enjoyed both my visits to your shop and if I didnt live 2+hours away I would come every week. I love reading your blog and now its nice to know that I can order any of the items in the photographs. I send my love and a hug to you.x

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  35. Wow Niki, what a discussion you have started here! I just popped by to say Hi and Thank you for your lovely blog comment.. and have spent half an hour reading ALL your comments on this (not something I usually have time to do!) The High Street has to be the way forward, or this country will loose it's identity and become a land of parking lots & shopping malls... nuff said! Lizzie x

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  36. Hi Niki
    I feel very strongly about this blog/comments.
    I agree that the high Street has to be the way, I used to drive for 3 hours to a litlle town in Lincolnshire, Horncastle, which had a number of shops and centres that we bought stock from, the fact that there were a (collective noun for?) group of shops was the reason, we ate lunch and tea there and sometimes stayed overnight.
    I can not believe that people have made such stinging comments without leaving their name, I notice that one person has made an attempt. I do not believe that these people understand the business and yes it is a passion for us and long may people like us continue to have our "dreams" as wouldn't the place be extrememly boring if it wasn't for oasis like "Nostalgia". I for one am one of these bloggers who have made the 2 hour journey to your shop and have thoroughly enjoyed my visits, i do hope that SM does increase it's number of vintage/antique shops, if I lived nearer I would join you.
    I can not believe how you have managed to reply with such calmness.
    Blog when you can, I for one (as I always do it) love to see the shots of new stock in the shop. I agree with you on web selling though, when selling one off items it is more difficult and too much bother to make it worth while.
    T x

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  37. Hi Niki,

    I read your blog often but I rarely comment. I love to read your news and totally agree with all your comments. I really admire what you have done and I think Shepton has alot of potential. In fact I'm considering moving there myself!!

    Things have slowed down but I totally agree with Jaynes comment about handmade being more and more popular.

    Keep going and do what you love - lifes too short!!!

    I hope to catch you at a fair soon - I never seem to get a chance to say hello! But I will at the next opportunity.

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  38. Hi Niki my lovely, I read this post last night and then got called away before being able to comment. One thing I know is that you do not need advice on how to run your business. You are an expert both in what you do and where you do it. You know your market very well and are an experienced shop keeper. I don't think you were asking for it, as far as I can see, just support and understanding for what is a difficult situation for you right now.

    You know that I have been an admirer of your for as long as I have known you and, if I remember rightly, I was your first ever commenter on this blog. It has always been a beautiful blog, full of wonderful images, ideas and events in your life. I really enjoy it although I do not always comment these days. I am still full of admiration for what you do Niki, you are a talented and inspirational lady. Shepton Mallet are very lucky to have you there, you shop is a little piece of heaven.

    It is so hard to juggle family, shop, website, home and I think you do it very well. You are clearly an inspiration to your girls.

    Hang on in there gorgeous. Things WILL get better xxx

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  39. Anonymous9:30 pm

    Well that certainly was well worth setting up my lap top at this time of night.
    As you know from my visits to your shop I to had a very successful business in Wells and retired some six years ago. Only today I spoke to people trading Wells and it has never been so quiet. It is the same everywhere. Please don't ever let anyone get under your skin, you are a remarkable young lady and have so much to offer - keep going day at a time as the future only happens one day at a time. I wish you all the very best and my sincere wishes for the future - your very new follower who lives in SM. I have rambled on a bit but will pop into the shop soon to say hello . Best Wishes - Audrey...

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  40. Anonymous11:31 pm

    Dear Niki,
    I read your blog religiously and have made a couple of purchases from your catalogue but this may be the first time I've commented (sorry).
    I am always amazed at how much you seem to accomplish and appreciate your taking the time to keep up your blog. I especially love it when you share photos of places you visit (most recently Glastonbury Tor).
    I only wish I had some useful information or insight for you.
    I have always worked in retail and can only state the obvious...retail has changed drastically in the last generation. First the "big box" stores and then on-line shopping have pretty much decimated the small business owner. The recent global economy has put the last nail in the coffin for many struggling business owners. This is true all over America (where I live) and Europe as well apparently.
    Unfortunately it is WE the public who are to blame. We complain about everything being made in China yet we love the "cheap" prices which allow us to own more "stuff". Dollar, (everything a pound) stores flourish. Many of today's young people would rather furnish their apartments with cheap, brand new (made to break) junk from Ikea than accept quality used furnishings from their parents. Everyone (including some of your supporters who have left comments) love the convenience of internet shopping. Cheap though poorly made goods are enticing for too many of us and the "afore-mentioned" convenience of on-line shopping is the twin edged sword.
    I personally have a desire and need to see, touch, smell, or try on the goods I buy BEFORE I purchase them. Not only that, I like shopping where I am known and can actually speak to the shopkeeper or sales agent.
    Alas, I am a dying breed from a forgotten generation.
    Good luck to you, Niki and best of luck to Shepton Mallet. I am rooting for you both.

    Kathy (not anonymous)from across the pond

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  41. Hi Niki, I just love your blog and store. I so admire your work, and your handmade items are wonderful. I have an antique booth in a large antique mall (600 dealers)in Arizona(USA. I have a full time corporate job but I would lose my mind if I didn't have the booth.

    You must continue to do what you love! You will figure it out - the right mix of what works for you. Here at the mall we had a Tea with about 30 women and it was aired on iantiques. We got so many positive comments from around the world. We had "show and tell" and I showed about 15 aprons from my collection. The owner/managers loved it and want me to do a 30 video on my vintage aprons.

    In these times one has to think outside the box. What events can you support that will bring customers to your store? We have drawings for major holiday's and the customer must be present to win. For Father's Day we will be raffling off a large BBQ.

    You are bright, talented and a wonderful lady. From reading your blog, I got interested in sewing again and bought a new sewing machine. Then DH wants to plan a trip abroad, and honestly you will be on our itenarary.

    I'm sure you will be doing some soul searching on how to make your business more profitable. This is exactly what every business needs, the same old, same old works but every business needs to be tweeked and changed with the times.

    Best wishes for success!
    Ann from Arizona

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  43. Anonymous10:11 am

    Location, location, location - it's all about location and Shepton obviously isn't the right location. Your type of shop needs a "destination" town, I don't know the West Country but I believe you know Norfolk so a town like Holt.
    Your loyalty to Shepton is admirable but at the end of the day your business would be a lot more successful elsewhere. Your choice...

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  44. It is wonderful to read posts like Nikki’s from passionate people who love what they do!

    As a Trend and Lifestyle Prediction Expert 'putting my other hat on now' I would like to confirm that small independents will make a come back in the future if they manage to secure a shop and can squeeze through the recession before the large brands take up the space in our small towns (but they also must have web presence or offer an addition service)

    ….There will be a revolution for desirable, interesting places to visit and buying local will be an increasing theme, anything British made Scottish, Irish, Welsh etc (old or new) will be a huge International trend moving forward over the next five years!

    For those who can start a business now with this in mind it is a hard and tough road and you will need to be able to move fast and change your business to always keep it fresh and interesting. You will have to work harder than you ever have …… but there is a good future ahead if you can survive.

    For Shepton Mallet High Street we are very lucky as we have shops that are now being taken by independents, I am personally trying to encourage businesses that offer lifestyle choice that are very different from the large retail giants ...and before the large brands take over like they have in the established towns such as Wells in Somerset.

    How am I so confident about this?…… I have worked for large International brands over many years …..trend forecasting is a complex quite mathematical occupation overlaid by intuition, it is too difficult to explain today but perhaps when I can squeeze some time in and explain on a blog post one day.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts Nikki
    No21x

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  47. Location, location, location...Any expert will tell you that getting in on the ground floor of an up and coming area is a smart move. Shepton is on-track to fast becoming a destination town...they all have to start somewhere. (Frome (just down the road from SM) is a case in point when some 5 to 10 years ago it was down at heel - It is now a thriving artisan town)
    I have seen many small retail businesses start up and and fail at the first hurdle in expensive touristy/destination areas, when too much of their takings have to go to landlords and local councils. My overheads are low and so I do not see this ever being a problem for me.
    Success is not always obvious... money in the till is the first vital factor, but how much of it has to go to pay bills can be frighting. I know business rates in Bath are higher than many areas of London, so this would not be a viable option for my small business...

    I am now switching-off the 'anonymous' facility to my blog's comments, as I feel it is cowardly to leave an unkind message and not at least sign it with your name.

    Thank you for stopping-by,
    Niki

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  48. Hi Niki. I first visited your shop after reading about it on someone elses blog! I've visited your blog today after clicking on someones facebook comment. Your displays at fairs and in your shop are always superb and your photography is excellent. It's lovely that your shop is going to be the highlight of some peoples trips to the UK from abroard. I've neglected my blog and don't always comment on others. Blogs are a reliable account of what is happening in individual peoples lives and their observations on the world around them. It is nice when comments congratulate good news and commiserate bad news, but don't shoot the messenger!
    Here in Ilchester two events are interesting me and my little junk shop 1) the possible closing of the public toilet that brings people off the 303. 2) A florist opening on the same road as me!!!
    It's great news for Shepton that Wells emporium chose the town as their new base. I will plan my next visit to you when they have opened and have a look there too. I don't throw away old magazines, as I like to reread them, so as long as your old blog posts are up I can revisit them too, and if you find time for new post then that will be lovely.
    Joanne x

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  49. Niki, I have followed your blog for some time and visited your shop on several occasions. I love what you do. I have an interest in Shepton because I have been a member of One Craft Gallery, and agree with everything that you say. I have left because I have now opened a shop in Wellington, the other side of Somerset. We don`t sell vintage, we are selling fabric mainly aimed at the patchwork/quilting market. Business is ticking along, but it isn`t easy. I am lucky because I have a business partner and we support each other, I don`t think I could do it on my own. I have a good feeling about Shepton, it has changed even in the two years I have been associated with it, and with the new businesses coming to the town it can only get better.
    Good luck.

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  50. Hey honey! You started your store in a global recession. What you have achieved to date is incredible! When I get a moment I pop in for a fix of your good taste and discernment which comes from being a vintage trailblazer of many years experience. Many of us have had to adjust to the economic climate in what we do and how we do it. It is never an option to remain static in business whatever the climate. But there will always be a market for high quality handmade such as yours. xxxx

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  51. Niki keep up the beautiful wondrous inspirational blogging pls. I'm in small business in Western Australia we have a second hand and vintage store business here is also crazy quiet. You live day to day hoping the light at the end of the tunnel with GFC is nearing. Staying happy and positive is the only way to fly. Don't let the Internet baddies bring you down. I've never commented on anyone's blog before but felt the need to cheer on your rally for hope and support for all who work to keep the high st approach alive and well? -J

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  52. Hi Nikki.

    Was lovely visiting your shop and all the lovely independent shops the other day, I think Shepton Has a lot going for it, the buildings are amazing and it has a great feel to it. More independents are moving out of the bigger towns and into the smaller ones. Which is fab for the people who like not mass produced and can find it in one place. Handmade is still going strong and I think more so at the moment, people want to buy something worth keeping, and not throw away. I am trying to find independent shops in different towns to supply, and could not believe the lack of them in Bath!
    Shepton has something unique and if everyone keeps up there enthusiasm and works together it will survive.
    We won't be in this reccession forever and if you can survive now you'l do really really well as things get better. xxx
    2 shops in Shepton would like to stock my work, I will be exhibiting at the One Gallery in Oct :) So keeping all these shops going also supports a network of makers.

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  53. I stumbled across your blog one night when I was studying in Japan. I was really missing home. I just wanted to tell you that it brought me so much comfort when I felt home sick and I started reading it every day. It reminded me of England and all the beautiful things I had to come back to. I got back to England almost 3 weeks ago and I'm trying to plan a trip to visit your shop.
    I love your blog, your house, your shop and your creativity.

    I just wanted to say thanks, your blog made a big difference to me :)xx

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  54. Hello Sweeting,
    My wholehearted support to you and to say that if all our small shops go, what a sterile place the UK would be (bad enough as it is)and it's thanks to folks such as yourself, that are brave and tenacious that we have lovely, inspiring places to visit...that can bring a smile. Keep up the good work love.
    HANDMADE IS NOT DEAD.

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  56. Hello Niki xx I just want to say thenk you for your fabulous blog xx It has been a delight to read and has given me much inspiration during the ongoing renovation of my home.
    I live in a small market town in Cornwall which has suffered so much over the last few years, due to the downturn in the economy and the opening of a large chain store!!!! I decided a few years ago that I would do my very best to shop in our local town centre shops. It has made shopping for birthday and Christmas presents a much more enjoyable experience.
    I hope you do well in the future xx
    From one Lang to another Lang Thank you and good luck xx

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  57. Self-belief in what you do is the key to success, and you have that in spades. Your knowledge of the market is tremendous and your prices are very reasonable. No-one works harder than you Niki. From one small business owner to another I can say that my takings have practically halved from what they were 4 years ago, but I am not in the least bit worried, and I don't believe you should be either. The economy will improve and there are plenty of people out there for whom the experience of actually going into a real shop is essential. I for one! Nothing can replace the delight of going into a Vintage shop selling the genuine article. Not knowing what's going to be on sale is exciting! It's like discovering treasure! And when you buy something it is with the knowledge that no-one else will have it. That's priceless! Same goes for your handmade goods. And though you spend considerably more time on making those. your profit margin will most probably be much higher, so it makes sense to combine the two.
    Much love,
    Christine x

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  58. I shall miss your posts Niki but will look in on your other blog to see your lovely creations and hope to see you back on line very soon.
    Carol xx

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  59. Hi Niki

    Despite your years of trading, albeit in different locations and guises, and the additional comments you've made here, I find it hard to believe that some people who have commented on this post are still under the misapprehension that you are asking for guidance as to how to run your business!

    It must surely be a case of seeing what they want to see and setting off on a missive in an attempt to teach their grandmother to suck eggs. Some comments have been so patronising, and in some cases quite rude and derogatory. If they had been directed at me I'm sure you know what my reaction would have been!!!!

    What a lovely comment from Kay - shed a tear when I read that one.

    Hope to pop over soon.

    Sxx

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  60. HI, I often read your blog but dont often comment. I have such a desire to have a shop, not unlike yours, and i agree with you that your shop has it 'just right' when i go into the local vintage shops (not that there is many) i always compare them to yours and think they just aren't getting it right as you are.
    I think it must be just a blip your high street is going through, i certainly wish i lived closer as i just dont want to buy presents for people from WHS and boots anymore, and I think more and more people are thinking that way x

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  61. Hi Niki,
    Sorry to hear you are taking a break from this blog. I shall miss visiting to take a look at your lovely creations and beautiful stock which are an inspiration to so many of us.
    Jennie

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  62. I love reading your blog and your shop is wonderful. All that you do is done with a passion for beautiful things xx

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  63. Hello Niki,
    I'm sorry for what I read, are times
    very, very difficult here in Italy. When I go down the street
    and I see shopping centers which I do not like, no no,
    always filled to the roof, or pizzerias and restaurants, I say
    but people throw money in this way?!
    My dream would be a great open my shop,
    similar to yours, but taxes would eat me alive, and so one can not remain a dream! Strength and toughness resist that repays you.
    Good luck
    Susy x

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  64. Hi Niki, Just to say... I read every blogpost you write even though I don't leave comments very often. Of course you should promote your business in your blog. Who would be daft enough not to!

    I'd love to visit your shop, but I live in Lincolnshire. Even if I travel down south, I've usually begged a lift from someone as I hate driving!

    Your posts are always interesting. Everyone is having a hard time at the moment, but things are sure to turn round, (I'm crossing my fingers here!)

    Don't forget your blog and business belong to YOU. You do it for YOU. If some people don't like what you say or what you sell, send 'em to IKEA!

    Followers and customers may go elsewhere, but there will always be fresh ones waiting be inspired and (hopefully) become customers of your great stock. SueXXX

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  65. Hi Nikki, I visit your blog most days to see what you are up to, sadly I live to far away to visit your shop but love to read what you have been up to. Yes you are right small businesses are struggling, but hang in there, there will be a time when things will improve. With best wishes Sue x

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  66. You're doing what you love.
    You're loving what you do.

    Take one day at a time and enjoy it - every moment of it.

    Get on your sewing machine. Make your most beautiful bags and ladies like you do.

    We all love handmade:o)

    Hang in there Niki. It will pick up.
    That's life :o)

    Best of luck my lovely. x

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  67. Hi Nikki
    I am already having withdrawal symptoms from your blog! But I really do understand. I can only say; well done for inspiring such a debate. I am inspired and heartened by the words of so many of your fans. There will always be those who revel in other's struggles...ignore them...concentrate on what you do best...besides you are a vintage 'veteran' and don't need others to tell you how to be as wondefully unique as you are and how to make your business work for you. All the best. We at Nicholas and Steele are rooting for you and Shepton Mallet.
    Hollyxx

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  68. hi niki,
    who ever said that no-one wants handmade is so NOT on trend!!!..havent they seen the upsurge in the make do and mend vibe going on at the moment....you only have to see the new magazines like mollie makes and also kristies homemade to see there is a whole new generation of people who are making stuff for themselves..taking inspiration from those who have been at it for years and it is exciting times in the crafting world...i agree that the high street is in the doledrums but we have got to support it (we are here to!!) and stop handing our money over to tescos and the other big sm's..as someone said, use us or lose us..so hang on in there and keep doing what you love!!..xx Kay

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  69. Linked to this post Niki on my latest post. x

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  70. I'm visiting via Viv's blog and I must tell you a I am so moved my your commitment to your beautiful shop and your craft. We are facing these issues in the small town I live in, population 6000. I am so impressed with your wonderful attitude and the fight you have.
    I do agree with Christine, that it will turn and things will improve.
    Its always the shop with the stamp of the owner, with their passion for what they do, like you, that shines through.
    I do hope your summer is happy and very successful!
    Best,
    Julie

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  71. Dear Niki, I came to your blog via Hens Teeth Art blog and read your latest comments and the issues that you and many of the other shops are facing. I just want to say HANG IN THERE! In the last few years in my small town in Western Australia we were faced with the same bleak situation but things are slowly but surely picking back up.
    You can only follow your own path and your own passion, and regardless of what others think or say you are living your dream and that will lead you to success. Opinions of others do not matter, just believe in yourself

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  72. Your photos are always worthy of enlarging in order to drool over the goodies displayed. If I lived nearer, I would be a regular at your shop.

    We are holidaying in Somerset this year and hope to find a day to visit you.

    Keep fighting. You have lots of good wishes being sent your way. xx

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  73. Hi Niki,
    Blimey you caused a riot! Have been away and just looked at recent blogs.
    You KNOW you are good at what you do and success is through self belief regardless of economic problems which may reduce profits but never the enjoyment in what you produce. All those who count are v much behind you. You started me on this you know and I love everything you do.
    Best wishes
    Jane

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  74. Found a link on Viv's blog... I am now a follower, next time I visit my daughter in Glastonbury, I shall pop in for a visit. Good luck, your shop is amazing. Summer visitors are on their way....

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  75. I also came via Hen's Teeth blog, although I am a follower of your's, just not recently - so sorry (very bad!) I totally agree with you about all our cloned town shops - nearly everywhere now has the same very small chains of the same old thing and nothing to inspire creativity, art or just plain different. When there are such delightful shops such as your own, why oh why don't people support them? I cannot understand it at all. I would relish having such beautiful shops including all the others you mention on my doorstep. I live near Witney in Oxfordshire and up until just recently there was absolutely nothing nice shop-wise in such a well heeled area where you would think they would take off. A couple of small shops have opened in the last year or so and I genuinely hope that they will have enough custom to remain in business.

    Your work is amazing and your shop looks like a treasure trove - I would love to visit and wish you every success and good luck in keeping things going.

    I hope Mary Portas is successful in her dealings with the Government - she is certainly a tour de force and whilst she might not appeal to everyone, she knows her job for sure.

    Best wishes,

    Barbara

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  76. wow, have read your post (as I always do) and the comments left and am reeling. Can I just say that I love your values and admire your skills and talents and its all about giving it a go. You are clearly brave and for me, an inspiration. Onwards and upwards! life begins at the end of your comfort zone - I read that somewhere - Helen x

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  77. Niki - Wow I should be asleep but have stayed up and read all the comments. You are the first blog I read whenever I go on the PC snd I love your shop, your makes, your home and your family. I think there is some wonderful support out there for you and your fellow small shop owners. I have commented before to you about supporting the High Street and my husband and I have not been to a large town (nearest being Middlesbrough, Darlington, York) for a long long time. We fond what we need on the High Street here in Northallerton or Thirsk or Bedale all small market towns nearby. My husband retires from the District Council next week and he is glad to be leaving with the decimation plans they have for the town. We have a market two days a week and a couple of years ago they withdrew the council stalls and gave the traders a small stall each now this week the powers that be came to Alan and demanded to know why the revenue was down for the past couple of years! The traders have learned to manage with a little stall and all shrunk their pitches and pay less - do they not realise that this would happen, they want the revenue without the commitmeny to the retailers be they shop owners or market traders - it is worrying is it not that these people (Councillors) decide how our towns will be - they have no concept of the real world or what is going on around them. They have allowed the multiples to come in and the rates are so high they can only be afforded by charities and the 'big names'. We love your blog Niki and we love you - I know that is a silly thing to say as we can't love you but we need people like you who are living their dream to keep us thinking that we might do the same in the future. You are a telented lady.

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Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx