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The Story so far - Part Two
Once the initial excitement of the idea of opening a shop wore off, we found ourselves faced with a huge task ahead of us. Neither of us having done anything even vaguely similar before, to say we were daunted is an under statement. We were really lucky to find two lovely carpenters who helped us put the shop together, and realise some of our ideas. Mark and Matt, thank you, you were perfect! And cheeky chappy Charlie, who painted the frontage and generally kept us entertained with the odd naughty story. Nudge nudge, wink wink. I think we made a great team! Thanks boys!
Throughout January 2014 we spent many long days and nights working away.
February the 7th. The opening day arrived, and it rained. It really rained, but we were so happy to have made it that nothing dampened the spirits. It was all hands to the deck to get it finished on time. My dear mum and sister made hundreds of delicious nibbles, and the dads handed round many glasses of fizz.
And so we were shop keepers! Suddenly running a shop! It felt utterly brilliant!
Little did we know that our first major challenge was to come quicker than we could have possibly imagined. Barely a week after opening up shop, my beloved mum was told that she was very ill. A week later she died. This was not what was supposed to happen. We had been getting so excited about our mums coming and sitting with us the shop. Chatting and laughing together. Having coffee or the odd G&T. It was supposed to be the treat after all the hard work and all the support they had always given us. …….
Time stood still for several weeks for me. But for my best and most wonderful friend, Harriet, it had to carry on. Not only mourning the loss of my mum herself, they were very close, but also learning on her own how to run a shop. She was still living in London and only supposed to be in Lewes half the week. A lot of time spent away from Jacob. It was so hard on us all. Her love and support will never, ever be forgotten and will always be cherished.
Getting back to work was actually a blessing. Mums classic motto of “Put you tin hat on” was muttered daily. Harriet had done an amazing job and our feedback from customers was great. We were trying to get to as many markets and sales as possible. Back when we first opened, the shop was almost completely vintage, with just a few new items like French Picardie glasses and Falcon enamelware, so the upkeep was full on. But we loved it. The more markets the better! Yum yum yum!
I don’t think we were prepared for how much we were going to love it. Talk to anyone in this trade and they will tell you, its bloody hard work but there is nothing they would rather do.
As 2014 drew to a close, along came the news that Harriet was expecting a baby the following May! Such happiness! Still coming to markets until her due date, she was a warrior.
With Spring came the safe delivery of little Sylvie.
Our crazy little friend, who never enters the shop unnoticed and always, always wants to have a tea party!
We were so lucky to have a little garden. Having said that, neither of us are keen gardeners, so apart from being a great place to display Vintage French garden sets, the most action the garden saw was coffee and wine breaks!! And a great place for Sylvie to make potions…..
We could often be spotted sitting on a bench at the front of the shop, enjoying the sun with a coffee. Having a meeting, or more likely a natter.
Our trips to France and Belgium have definitely become fewer and further between, but when we can, we still venture over for a week of buying. We have also become very fond of our trips to Paris for the Maison & Objet fair. We always tag an extra day or two on to the trip. Who doesn’t love a trip to Paris?!
My darling Heather proposed to me next to a beautiful Fjord in Norway and in May 2017 we had a fabulous wedding on a farm not far from Lewes. Almost the entire contents of the shop was shipped over to the beautiful Hawthbush Farm and friends and family helped us to create a beautiful day we will remember forever. We were married in the woods and partied in their barn. It was truly magical.
Over the years the shop has been used as a photography location for the wonderful local brand Howl Clothing, an events space for poetry evenings and has featured in a few national antiques programmes too. Not to mention the ever popular Christmas Late night shopping events!
We are so very lucky to have some of the most wonderful and loyal regular customers, many who have been visiting weekly since day one! Always first to arrive after one of our buying trips to see what is new. It's always a joy to stop for a chat and catch up. We have seen babies grow into little people and many of these customers have now become friends. Thank you so much for your amazing support. It is so humbling. x
In January 2019 Sylvie was joined by little Rosa Pearl. A bundle of pure delight. We can't wait to see if she holds the same enthusiasm for tea parties as her sister!
As anyone who has ever visited the shop around the festive season will know, we really go for it at Christmas! Our window displays are something we look forward to creating all year round. We were aware that Christmas 2019 was to be our last at 196, so we went big. Jigsawing boxes, crates and parcels into the window to display the 12 days of Christmas was no mean feat. It was our most enjoyed window display to date.
And so our time in the shop was to end. The initial news that we had to leave our little shop was obviously a bit of a blow. We had become so fond of her four walls and she had been a great source of comfort throughout so much. We felt so very lucky to have been given the opportunity to occupy the space for the time that we did.
Helene has been a fabulous landlady and a good friend. Along with her daughter she wanted to expand their Business, Freight, and so the decision to move back into 196 High street was an obvious and understandable one. We wish them all the luck in the world with their new shop opening!
So the hunt began. A new premises was needed to house Closet & Botts. We had just about made our decision on a new property when…….. Coronavirus. Wow, what can I say? An unimaginable time for all of us. So much loss, turmoil and, wait for it…… uncertainty. As a result of lockdown, retail was and still is, one of the many areas that has a truly unstable future. Someone must have been looking out for us, because the option to move to a little shop opposite arose. The landlady, Hannah, was a fan of the shop and has been a true angel throughout the whole process. So understanding and flexible. We were so grateful and extremely happy to have a new location to give us some stability in these strange new times. Moving and fitting out a new shop throughout a global pandemic and national lockdown was going to prove to be a little challenging to say the least…..