After the gloomiest December since 1956 (husband Pete loves a meteorological fact) we thought it would be a good exercise to remember the positive parts of 2021, because we all know you don't have to look hard to find the not-so-positive.
We spent the first quarter of the year closed due to the lockdown. However one of the biggest highlights of 2021 has to be getting a wonderful new neighbour. Esther & Harry moved their business Refilled to no 30 and opened early March. It was so wonderful when we were able to open again in April to have them next door. We are both relative newbies to the high street so having someone just next door in the same position has been a big support. As well as swapping milk for wifi, they are also much better at not running out of carrier bags than we are! And basically are all round lovely smiley people who anyone would want as neighbour!
Just as we were getting ready to open on April 12th, both us at no 29 & Refilled at no 30 got new brand-spanking new awnings. It had been a heap of work by our landlords John and Annette to find a company willing to take on on the amazing, but very old mechanisms and get them smart and working again. The end result is such a handsome addition to the listed shop front and great to be able to use them to keep the shop cooler on the hot summer days. Needless to say it was literally 24 hours before we realised that the seagulls of the city enjoyed using them as fly-by target practice. But they look super smart - seagull poop regardless!
Chichester had a party
The Summer Street Party was back in the city thanks to lots of hard work from Chichester Bid. We took part with a paper flower workshop in aid of My Sister's House - whilst the streets were filled with entertainment, food stalls and lots of relief that the sun was shining. Chichester at its best!
Our new team
From being a compact operation of myself, Sarah and Margot. It became obvious that we needed help. Margot was headed back to uni at the end of the summer, and there just weren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. So early summer we put out a call asking who wanted to join our team and were thrilled to be able to welcome Emma, Jess and Rosina to no 29 early Sept. Becoming an employer has not been without its challenges in terms of the admin and learning that has to go along with it. But the difference to the shop has been beyond what I hoped. I know the shop looks better for having much more care and attention being bestowed on it, and I am confident our customers' experience is the better for having this lovely smiley bunch behind the counter. I have also had the miraculous good fortune of only employing people who are not just naturally tidy, but actually enjoy the process - the irony of this is not lost on anyone who has worked with me in my previous life...I'm trying honestly!
No 29 & 30 won an award
The restoration of our building by our landlords John & Annette was recognised at the Sussex Heritage Trust awards. The trust works to celebrate high quality conservation, restoration and newly built projects in Sussex. If you have visited no. 20 or 30 shops you will see that their heritage has been respected with contemporary elements beautifully integrated. It was lovely that this attention to detail was recognised and if you are passing please look out for the plaque that sits proud of place between the two shop windows.
We hit 10k on Instagram
Always the tortoise, never the hare! We finally crossed the 10k threshold on Instagram, it's a modest achievement, but good to be in five digits all the same and it just means that more lovely folk out there want to keep up with our news which can only be a good thing!
We also won the Chichester Christmas Window competition!
I'm slightly ashamed to admit that my competitive spirit lays low, semi-dormant, until the words 'window competition' are uttered*. It's not something to be proud of, but we all have our demons. So it's no surprise to tell you that efforts were made and boats were pushed out to create our 'Gingerbread Mouse House'. Why a 'Gingerbread Mouse House' for a Christmas window? Well why not?
The intention was to create something with a bit of magic and detail for kids to enjoy, and it turns out all ages enjoyed it which was the loveliest reward of all. We were really thrilled to win the competition which had loads of fab entries across the city and was judged by Simon Higlett, the set designer at Chichester Festival Theatre. Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to tell us how much they loved the window too.
*oh & scrabble.....I'm a sore loser at that too!
Above everything else it's you guys!
Without dwelling on the negative, its been a year of challenges. Retail really is the barometer of the nation's state of mind. If people feel confident and at ease, the shops feel their love, attention and business. If the nation's mood swings the other way....well it can all be a bit tumbleweed. Our approach has been to basically work harder than we ever have before to make it out the other side. And so far it seems to have worked. Christmas broke some records for us, which gives us more confidence as we enter 2022. But aside from the cash flow, it's our customers showing us the love whether they are buying from us or just popping in for a browse that has kept us going. The lovely comments and feedback both instore and online mean the world, and knowing that the hard work we put into making WM a special little shop is appreciated is just wonderful.
So thank you, for being our customer, for opening our newsletters, for reading this blog - for supporting small business. Let's see what good stuff 2022 brings.