Thursday, November 12, 2009

'Nostalgia at Number 1', Market Place.

The seed was planted back in May of this year when I had my stand at the Spring Vintage & Handmade Fair in Chipping Sodbury. I was reminded that there are many women out there who all share my passion for vintage, or for the pleasures of owning something lovingly created by hand. It was also a reminder to me of those days when I sold on the craft fair circuit (around 20 years ago now) and also at the DMG antique fairs at Shepton Mallet a few years ago; the camaraderie amongst the stallholders that went with the good days and the bad is something that I miss. I have some wonderful friends in the antiques trade, but being just a buyer at the fairs, detaches you somewhat from the network.

So as I said, the seed was planted and I have been making decisions and plans since that wonderful day. I have been a stay-at-home Mum for 22 years now!!! Gulp! Well, that's apart from doing the odd antiques fair and always trying to fit my on-line business in when I could; my family have always had to come first. This is a long time to be at home, alone with ones thoughts, day in, day out, and it can become quite isolating. Having been a Mum for all that time (youngest will be 16 in November) I have recently had an urgent need to find ‘me’ again…whoever she may be…That’s ‘me’ the person I am inside, rather than the Mum, provider and carer.

I did trial a shop for year, back in 2003, which was joined to the side of our house. My youngest was only 10 years old at the time, so it was very difficult to juggle family life with the tie of running the shop properly, particularly during the school holidays, and with weekends never being our own. Having said that I dearly missed my shop when I closed it and aimed to keep it alive by selling similar goods on-line, which is what has led to my somewhat isolated lifestyle.
So earlier this year I began considering opening a physical shop again. I decided that opening the room on the side of our house was no longer an option…besides, I’m rather partial to the kitchen being there now and the space it gives us when the girls and their friends all descend upon us.
No, for it to work for me this time I needed it to be away from our home, to give me the detachment and the ‘me’ time that I crave. I realise that I possibly could have chosen a better time to be contemplating opening a shop, given the current economic climate, but advice that I have received has been full of encouragement and has helped me to see clearer.
I began my search by looking at a vacant premise on a main ‘A’ road, a few miles from our home. The building was very appealing, but with its location with no other shops around and its need for ‘a change of use’ to be granted, it was soon struck from my list.
During the summer, the town of Wells provided me with a very successful viewing. A recently refurbished shop, which had previously had a thriving business running from it for around 20 years, was very tempting. It was a large premise with three sales rooms as well as a kitchen and loo! I ended up walking away from this shop though, mainly on the advice of a friend whose opinion I sort, who knows Wells well! The location wasn’t ideal and my friend had a feeling about Wells not having the right customer base for vintage. I respect her judgement, so decided against it.

I left my search for a while, until September when I stumbled upon this blog. It is written by Belinda who runs a beautiful antique shop called No.21 in Shepton Mallet, which she opened with her husband back in May. Shepton Mallet is a small market town, once quite affluent with its links centuries ago to the woollen trade and also by the breweries that existed there during the C19th. Over the years it has had its problems; with ‘a well known corporation’ opening a large supermarket at the top of the town, being the final straw that broke the backbone of the high street. I admit that I didn’t actually know the town of Shepton Mallet that well, despite it being only a 25 minute drive from my home, so I thought I’d pay it a visit and also call in on Belinda whilst I was there.
Photo courtesy of:
Belinda’s shop is very easy to find in the pedestrian area of Town Street – and I have to say that it is the smartest shop in town! She has filled it with tasteful items of furniture and beautiful accessories for the home. We soon got chatting upon my visit and it was clear to me that Belinda is passionate about the rejuvenation of Shepton. She told me of the Shepton21 scheme that is running with a dedicated committee, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce and many non-profit organisations, which has already made leaps forward in bringing back a vibrant and sustainable future to benefit residents, businesses and visitors to the area.

It also seemed to me that visitors to the town expect to see antique and vintage shops, with it having such a strong link with the Bath & West Showground and the antique events that are held there, just five minutes down the road - but there are actually very few of them. I decided to give Shepton a chance and had a good look up and down the high street…there were quite a few shops vacant/for lease, one of which really appealed to me.
On my return home I gave it a lot of thought and then arranged a viewing of the shop that I had seen. It is only a small premise (enough for one person to cope with on her own!), a corner position, and in a prime location on the market square – so no cars going past all day, just pedestrians, with the market stalls there on a Friday. Outside it, stands the beautiful 50 foot high Market Cross, which dates from 1500.

So, the viewing went ahead and I had a very good feeling about the visit. Sums were worked out when I got home (between you and me the financial side SCARES me!!!)
Image from Psycho (1960)Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
and I decided I wanted to give it a go…I submitted my offer to the agent and waited…let me tell you, there was no ‘Kirsty and Phil moment', where five minutes later a phone call comes through and the buyers immediately know if it’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’!!
Location, Location, Location presenters Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp
Oh no indeed…the agent decided he needed a holiday and I didn’t hear if my offer had been accepted for 5 days!!! Talk about stress??! It was agony! But finally, on a Tuesday afternoon the news came through…the vendor suggested a counter offer, which was basically take it, or leave it, as he now had other parties interested!! This, after the shop being vacant for a year! Unbelievable…I was really tested to question if this was what I really wanted….then the vendor went away on holiday for 2 weeks!! Aghhhh….
It’s now several weeks on from those rather stressful negotiations and I had been itching to tell you of my plans, but was worried that things might fall through along the way…

Although I've still yet to sign the contract, I am on the homeward straight and would hope to do so in the next couple of weeks...I'm sitting here with everything crossed right now though; until I have that key in my hand, it is difficult to think of anything else. Who knew commercial leases were so complex?!

I’ve always been a bit of a purist and personally dislike repro-vintage, preferring the genuine article whenever possible. It has become much harder to find pretty vintage pieces, compared to when I had my little shop back in 2003, mainly due, I think, to the current ‘fashion’ for all things vintage, but I am confident that with the contacts that I have made over the years, that I will be able to keep my new shop stocked with a good assortment of authentic pieces, as well as my hand made items. I intend to have my sewing machine in the shop and to work on making things during the quieter times. I honestly believe that this will work better for me, rather than me working from home so much. I find it a struggle to keep motivated at home sometimes, especially during school/uni holidays, and other distractions. There have also been a lot of new vintagey websites set up over the years and so competition has increased. I work alone, rather than working with my partner like many others, so it can be hard to compete when I have to do all aspects myself. Hand making the stock always seems to be way down on the list, with emailing, listing, despatching etc. taking over and becoming the main focus. Finding time to think about new lines is a struggle and so I am often left wondering if what I do makes me happy…
I do intend to keep my on-line shop, but will probably only list my rag dolls on it for a while, until I get settled in at the physical shop. This is a big step for me and I need to get it right.

I have had my on-line shop for over 7 years now and am grateful for all the cyber-friends and customers that I have met over that time and want it to be known that I am not looking to turn my back on you – I appreciate your past custom and hope that you consider I am making the right choice in this next chapter in my life. I will do my best to keep up with my blog too, but the time when I'm away from the shop will need to be family/home time which is still very important to me. (I do not intend to have a PC at the shop, as I need the hours that this should free-up for sewing etc.)

The next few weeks will involve lots of paint (the Barbie pink above will be the first thing to go! ;-)) and shifting of furniture and fittings, as well as moving stock into the shop (I have LOTS AND LOTS!) As soon as I am open for business I will let you know and hope that if ever you are passing, that you will pop in to say hello…(I’m really hoping I’ll be ready some time in December) So, although I am taking a big risk, I do feel that I am doing the right thing to make me happy. (I’m tied into quite a long lease, so am there for the long term.) It also feels good to be doing my very small part to help with the regeneration of Shepton Mallet town centre, by occupying another shop that has been empty for a year, and to hopefully bring some custom to the town. Shepton Mallet deserves better, given its ancient history which would be of interest to both locals and tourists, and its troubled recent past that it needs to emerge from. I hope it will encourage other small business owners to come and join the ranks too, as Shepton starts on its climb up out of the doldrums.

Although my new venture has been on my mind an awful lot over the last couple of months, I have not neglected my sewing machine and have lots of new items to take with me to the V&H fair on Saturday. (I’m sorry to those who have asked when my on-line shop would be updated, but I had to draw the line somewhere and so it has remained somewhat ignored. I hope you can forgive me and I will do my best to re-stock the catalogue early next year, if not before) I am very excited about all the stock that I have managed to acquire so far for my new venture, not least because I could buy everything that ‘spoke’ to me, rather than me first having to consider if it was suitable for posting. But it’s the V&H Fair first, so tomorrow I shall share with you some of the handmade items that I shall be taking with me.

Sorry for this long post, but I felt obligated to let you know what my plans were, having been a part of the Blogging community for a long time now and gaining so much support from you all over the years, for which I shall always be grateful.
Be back tomorrow,
Niki x


  1. Wow, Niki, congratulations! Living true to your heart is a fantastic decision - I wish I could pop in and out often. I'm sure you'll be a wonderful success and you'll become a landmark in no time! I'm so very happy for you to be able to play and work amongst all of your beautiful creations and treasure finds - and have face to face feedback from adoring customers! Working 25 minutes from home is an excellent way to draw a line in the sand between commitments. I'm gently following in your footsteps by having committed to a monthly market - only done one and LOVED it! You go, girl! Lots of hugs to you, Niki. Suzy xx

  2. How exciting...
    Wishing you well on your new venture I feel sure it will be a wonderful shop to visit..

  3. Wow Niki !!!
    Let me tell you all my support for your new venture, I'm sure you will have a lot of succes in it.


  4. Ohh Niki this ís such exciting news!:) I'm sure your Nostalgia shop will be the most beautiful in Shepton and will fit in perfectly! The market place looks like right our of a story book! If I'll ever make it to your country and area I'll sure come to visit! I wish you all the success you'll need and that your own physical shop away from home will be your dream come true!!!
    xoxo Carola

  5. What exciting news. I think you will do very well and I really agree with you about wanting real vintage rather than repro. There is nothing nicer than finding a lovely item and wondering about where it came from, who used to own it etc and also it is unique. Lots of luck.
    Twiggy x

  6. Niki that is wonderful news! Congratulations for taking the big leap, and having the courage to do it. I am sure it will be a perfect combination for you - it sounds and looks like the most wonderful place! I hope you are able to share some photos with us of the transformation and to see your shop set up. I know you won't have as much computer time, but when you get a chance, please do show us, and let us know how you are going! Best of luck with your new exciting venture! Natasha xo

  7. Elin Lundin, Swe11:05 am

    Congratulations, I wish you all the luck!
    If I ever go on a vacation in England, I sure come by and say hello! :) I love your blog!

  8. Fantastic news, I bet you're so excited. I hope everything goes to plan for you and that the opening goes smoothly.

    I wish you the very best of luck (and we all know that luck comes to those that work hard for it!).

    Sue xx

  9. Hi Niki,Absolutely welldone! Yesterday I went to order the programme for my online shop, for me where I live there are no like minded towns nearby, I would love to have my own little shop (although I do have the bothy in Winchcombe, but there is practically no footfall) and will visit yours when it opens. I have signed upto Malvern flea market, where I used to stand years ago, I seem to have gone full circle back to how I started! Needs must! Tracey (see you on Saturday)

  10. Hello Niki

    HOW FANTASTIC!!!! ;-))))))I am so pleased for you! I sensed and hoped that you may end up there...Your shop will definitely encourage me to visit Shepton mallet more often as I tend to go to Frome more than I do Shepton. I love the idea of bringing more vintage to Shepton, the place will benefit from it.

    It is something that I too would love to do eventually but as you say, with a young family it is not practical so I must wait a bit longer.
    I am sure that you will enjoy having your own shop again.

    Niki I am so excited for you, I must pop in to town and see where it is.

    I can't believe my luck, my favourite shop will be just 3 miles away from me!

    The waiting from the agent/owner must have been awful...It will all be worth it in the end.

    As I am close by, any help needed, don't hesitate to ask!

    Take care

    Isabelle x

  11. A shop of one's own! How exciting, Niki! I'm sure it will be a big success and I only wish I could come and visit someday (alas, Canada is an ocean away). p.s. how far will you be from London?

  12. You must be bursting with excitement and probably having many sleepless nights as well. How wonderful though, to be opening a shop again, and in such a lovely location, too. Congratulations.

  13. Oh, that is SUCH exciting news, Niki. It sounds like you have made very good choices based on what you and the family actually need and can do, and I think it will go well. I will be BRIEFLY in Somerset before Christmas, and if there is any way in the world that I can visit your shop then, I will!

  14. Anonymous12:50 pm

    Fantastic news. You must be so excited and ready to start.
    If only the UK would be closer to Italy... I'd love to come and visit your shop.

    I am a staying at home mum too and recognise your feelings.

    Good luck!

    Ciao, Helena

    ps What name have you choosen?

  15. Hi Niki, you are making a change in your life which is always good to do. How I would love to live near you so I can go visit you in your new shop where, no doubt, you are going to have the most amazing vintage items and have your own time to create your wonderful dolls and all the other things you make with an artis touch.
    May you have the most wonderful time in your new shop.
    Muchos cariños
    María Cecilia

  16. Anonymous1:47 pm

    Hi Niki,
    Go for it Gal!
    I'm so excited for you, I love your stuff and wish you all the very best with your new venture.
    Oh how i wish I lived a bit nearer!

    I secretly wish I could do something similar too!

    Good Luck!

    Sandie (Sandie's Patch)

  17. Dear Niki
    Oh I am so happy for you! Your JOY is beaming through the blog post. This new venture will invigorate and restore you and take you on to new heights of loveliness!
    This is the happiest thing I've heard about all week - congratulations! So, so, delighted for you and sending HUGE positive vibes that all goes well with the signing and setting up the shop.
    If you need any help in setting up or to-ing and fro-ing then let me know!
    Wishing you much success and fulfillment.
    Denise x

  18. that's great news, I'm sure it will be just as successful as your on-line shop has been. good luck!
    Josie x

  19. How thrilling, Niki! Oh how I wish I was making a trip to the UK in the next year. You know I'd definitely be making a stop at your shop! I'm positive you'll do well. As you may know, my family runs a shop, and though it takes much dedication, the rewards far outweigh the work. Plus you'll be able to meet and socialize with your customers! Believe me... 15 years at home has made me realize what a cocoon I've made for myself within these four walls ~ I need to get out! lol =)

  20. How exciting for you. Wishing you every success. Will try and visit when I am next visiting Somerset.

  21. Good for you Niki, how incredibly exciting, I know your shop will be the vintage-lovers paradise and I wish you every possible success. Shepton town itself has long been on my list to re-visit, now I have an incentive, I will definately wait until your shop is open. Meanwhile, I'm already excited about visiting your stall on Saturday - just hope I have enough time!!!
    Lucy x

  22. Fabulous news Niki on your new exciting venture. I'm sure in the long term it wil be very successful and if ever I get over that way I will be sure to visit!

  23. I am so pleased for you,and wish you every success with your new venture.I remember the excitement...and trepidation...I felt when I started up my first nursery school,trying to find suitable premises etc.I'm sure the shop will be a great success and that you will be making a whole lot of new friends along the way.


  24. I wanted to say a great big well done and best wishes. I will be keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes somoothly for you. I worked in FM in a previous life and leases are a pain in the bum at the best of times. I am sure you will make a really great go of it and if we are ever in your neck of the woods I will be vistiting thats for sure.

  25. How fabulous Niki! I am thrilled for you! I'm sure it will be very popular from day one & wish you the best of luck!

    You'll have to have a grand opening when you are settled in.

    Looking forward to seeing you again on Saturday!


  26. I hope it all goes well for you. Live the dream x

  27. Oh how exciting, can't wait to see it come together.
    Good Luck!

  28. What fantastic news. Having been to the Country Living Show in London today, looking for the type of lovely things you make and sell, I was very disappointed. You'll be surprised how far people will travel to come to a shop like yours. I for one will be making the trip, even though I'm a couple of hours away. Ooh....I can't wait!

  29. Congratulations Niki! I do envy you your shop and its location. To my shame, I have never visited Shepton itself - only the Bath & West Showground for fairs. Will definitely be visiting your shop, though not until the New Year as we are shall be away for December (and taking one of your beautiful calendar sets 'Down Under'). So wishing you all the very best for your venture - and for the grand opening!

  30. Hi Niki

    So glad it's all coming to fruition at last. Congratulations and all good wishes for a brilliant start to Nostalgia at No 1.

    Sue xx

  31. How wonderful ,sounds something like paradise, hope all goes well and hopefully I will be able to make a visit one day .

  32. How exciting and brilliant. I've been a SAHM for eighteen years and am now looking for work and that is daunting enough. All the best with your shop, it is something I could only dream about doing. xxx

  33. such brilliant news! well done Niki, we will be over for a visit as soon as you open! Liz & jack x

  34. Emma Slade8:46 pm

    I've never posted a response to your blog before but have been following it for some time now so am really really chuffed at your wonderful news. Good luck Niki!

  35. This is going to be the best thing that has happened to Shepton Mallet for a long time Niki.. I for one cannot wait to see your new emporium open for business.. I know you will make it something wonderful with your impeccable taste and attention to detail..
    Well done you for taking the plunge..
    See you v soon...
    Michele xx

  36. Wow - I am so happy for you but will miss your blog so much - its the first I look at whenever I go on. I hope you can leave your blog open so we can read your posts that are already there and yor fabulous pictures. I am so envious you are living your dream and wish you the very best in all you do and that you have a wonderful time.

  37. Anonymous9:42 pm

    Brilliant news Niki!!!
    How very exciting...I just know that it will be gorgeous!
    Wishing you all the very best of luck and happiness.
    Amanda (Shabby Chick) xxx
    ps. see you Saturday!

  38. Good luck with the new shop Niki, sounds like you have thought a lot about it and you must do what's right for you and your family! Looking forward to seeing the shop when it's all "nostalgia-d" :)

    Mel xxx

  39. Oh Niki!!!! I can't begin to tell you how excited I am for you and your new endeavor!!!! I shall be living vicariously thru you as I have always wanted to have my own shop. I know I will when the time is right. I look forward to seeing lots of pictures and hearing all about your new adventure in life. Best of luck to you in everything to do with your new shop!!! God bless. :)

    ~ Wendy

  40. Niki:

    I am so terribly happy for you! What wonderful news. I can only hope you do not stop blogging altogether. I would miss your lovely pictures and posts so much.

    Again, wishing you all the very best, and have total faith in your new endeavor.

    Lisa xo
    Knitty, Vintage and Rosy

  41. Niki, I am thrilled for you How lucky is Shepton? Please keep your online shop and Blog for those of us in far away places to enjoy! I mentioned you on my Friday post today if you get a chance to visit. Cheerio. Enjoy your weekend. xx

  42. congratulations! how can it fail with so many friends to wish you well and cheer you on!!! what a glorious stamp you will put on this place and i'm sure your family will be glowing with pride!!! go for it!

  43. Congratulations Niki! How exciting for you too! I'm sure your shop will be beautiful! I bought some pretties from you at The Vintage and Handmade Fair earlier this year,I love them!You're such a talented lady I'm sure you'll make a go of it.Wishing you OOdles of Good Luck!
    Rachel x

  44. Congratulations and Good Luck with your new venture (and tomorrow too!)Lucyxx

  45. Wow how exciting for you, thats wonderful news wishing you all the best, I'll have to plan a visit next year...Lucey xx

  46. Niki, hi,
    I read your blog all the time but only occasionally comment simply because all I would ever do is oooh and aaah :>)

    You're an incredibly creative person with a real talent for bringing to life things from the past.
    I really love everything you talk about and make and show and, really you are living my dream...haha!
    But, I did want to pop in to wish you all the luck in the world in your new venture. We don't get to visit your part of the world very much since our close friend who lived near Wells passed away a few years ago but, I hope, when I do come down to your beautiful part of the county, I will be able to call in and say hello.
    Good luck.

  47. Nikki,
    I'm so excited for you & I know that your shop will be absolutely gorgeous, just the kind of shop that I've always hoped to find. I admire you taking the plunge! Best of luck!

  48. Congratulations, I hope that your new venture is a big success

  49. Dealbaida5:43 am

    Many "Congatulations" Niki. I know the shop is going to be a tremendous success.

    You are one hugely talented and inspirational lady and I look forward very much to visiting your wonderful new emporium.


  50. It is the first time that I visit your blog...oh, and your story it´s like a dream to me...I wish that we ( here in sweden) had such lovely places/arquitecture, to open a butique like yours...
    My very best wishes and I will be visiting you to see how everything goes.Goodluck!
    Magdalena/Color Sepia

  51. Hi Niki, how very exciting!! wishing you all the best in your new all sounds so wonderful, I can't wait to see it open for business! x

  52. Oh Niki, I'm so excited for you! Haven't looked at blogs for ages, then when I do look what I discover...that will teach me! Absolutely cannot wait to come and see your lovely new shop as soon as you are ready. If it is anything like your last shop it will be a little slice of heaven in Shepton Mallet. Wishing you lots of luck - I have no doubts that you will be a roaring success! xxx


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