For Independence and Supporting the Makers... Shop Indie



Words: Paul Chapman

Images: Shop Indie


Shop Indie is the new independent name mixing it with the high street big boys of Vicar Lane. Selling gifts, cards, homewares and quirkiness they offer a fantastic range of products from small makers near and far, something that has been made with a bit of love.


Shop Indie isn’t new though, as partners – in life, and in business - Lisa and John, have been in business for ten years as Altered Chic, embracing ecommerce and offering their range of products online from their own web shops and through online platforms such as Etsy and Notonthehighstreet.


Altered Chic is run from a space in the Clocktower Business Centre in Staveley where Claire, Lisa’s sister, is employed to fulfil orders and stay on top of everything needed, a real family business.


“We were then put in touch with the new ownership team at Vicar Lane,” says John. “They were looking for ways of increasing the number of independent retailers in their units, in line with feedback they’d been getting from shoppers.

I like the way Lisa and John work together. Lisa is the creative, she produces her range of cards, wall art, decorations, printed ribbons, laser-cut products, and so on. John is the technical one, sorting out the website, making ecommerce work and also lugging the odd box or two. The pair run the business around their young family, the independence giving them the flexibility that coping with the hectic timetable of events being parents demands of you. Getting the work life balance right, although I’m sure it doesn’t feel like that all the time!

“We often take our products out to craft and niche markets,” explains John, “to get some feedback face-to-face from people about what we’re doing and the lines we sell.

“It’s through these markets that we met a number of people similar to us, making their own range of quality products, selling them at markets and then packing away until they appear at the next similar event.



“This got us thinking. What if we brought a number of makers together under the same ‘virtual’ roof and sold them together with our products. We started talking to people and it wasn’t long before we had a way to bring these fabulous makers into the public eye. 2018 saw Shop Indie launch online , it was great, response was good but certain products were limited as they are very difficult to sell online.


“Candles and scented products typically don’t go well, I suppose it’s difficult to sell these as no one really knows what they smell like, and it’s from here that we started discussing the idea of a physical shop.” The pair started looking for a shop premises in addition to the unit at Clocktower, they spoke to the council to see what might be available, there wasn’t really anything that was a) the right size, b) in the right location and, perhaps most importantly, c) at an affordable rent!


“We were then put in touch with the new ownership team at Vicar Lane,” says John. “They were looking for ways of increasing the number of independent retailers in their units, in line with feedback they’d been getting from shoppers.


“Vicar Lane put together a lease package that we couldn’t refuse, and we are still extremely thankful to them for helping us make this step onto the high street. We also have Rate Cute close by, another independent retailer, and Vicar Lane are really keen to increase the mix of independents to large retail stores, which will help make Chesterfield town centre more interesting for shoppers.”


“The range is more personal, many are made lovingly in small batches, and we also have a selection of products which can be personalised. If you give one of our products as a gift, it feels a bit more thoughtful, more carefully selected perhaps.”

The pair clearly love what they do, they have taken a brave move to open up a real store selling real products, made by a bunch of really talented people both locally and across the UK. “I like to think we offer something that isn’t just following a trend, our products stand out. When we think about what to stock, we try and place ourselves in the position of the customer, would we like it if we saw it in-store?


“The range is more personal, many are made lovingly in small batches, and we also have a selection of products which can be personalised. If you give one of our products as a gift, it feels a bit more thoughtful, more carefully selected perhaps.”


If you are a local maker, Lisa and John would love to understand a bit more about your products as they might be just right for their store. Contact details are at the end.

As Christmas approaches, be sure to add Shop Indie as a destination for your gift buying. And if you don’t see anything first time be sure to call in again, as stock and lines change frequently due to the nature of the small numbers in which they are produced.


Shop Indie are also promoting the ‘Just A Card’ campaign, which enables you to show your support to independents, as any small purchase - even just a card here and there - can make all the difference to a small business surviving on the high street.


I wish them all the best for the venture, and if you do call down to check them out, as always please mention where you heard of them, S40 & S41 Local.

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West Studios,

Sheffield Rd,

Chesterfield

S41 7LL


Mobile: 07764 801080
paul@s40local.co.uk
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