Sunday, 29 January 2012

One week on.

Well what a week it's been at The Sewing Shop.  The people of Lichfield (and beyond) have flooded back through the doors and welcomed us with open arms.  The response has been quite overwhelming.  They've loved our refurb.  They've loved our stock.  They've just loved the fact that there is once more a shop in the city selling yarn, fabric and haberdashery.

We've had so many deliveries this week.  We now have Pfaff sewing machines in stock.  The Hobby 1132 is a great little workshorse of a machine.  Can't wait to have a play with it and we already have one very interested customer.  :)

The stands of Gutermann thread arrived from Germany.  Hooray and well done Tina, our rep, for getting them here so quickly for us.  The rainbow of colours by the front door look gorgeous.

And we've already had our second delivery of yarn from Stylecraft!  After the first weekend we needed to re-order.  The squidgy big 400g balls of Aran with Wool have just flown and our other rainbow wall - the Special DK - has been rapidly depleted.  Order number 3 will be going off to Stylecraft HQ early next week.

For those existing Attic 24 fans amongst you (and those about to be converted after clicking on the link), we've been asked about "Lucy packs".  We have all but 3 of the shades Lucy used in her Granny Stripe Blanket and we'll be getting those in very soon.  If you would like a pack of all 17 shades of scrumptious yarn then get in touch by email or through our Facebook page.  We can post them out to you for £35.00 and free postage and packing.

Apologies for the lack of photos.  We've been so busy we've not had time to take any.  I'll try to add some in the next day or so.  However, this week a friend is (hopefully) coming to take some gorgeous professional ones.  Andy (of Peacock Pix) takes the most amazing photos and we can't wait to see what magic he can create with our little shop.

Right.  I must now get back to the head-scratching task of planning workshops.  We're planning to offer crochet, knitting, patchwork and quilting and all manner of other textile and yarn related classes, but trying to work out the what, when and how is no small task.  We'll let you know just ask soon as we have them all sorted.

To kick things off Monday morning is going to see the start of Crafty Coffee Mornings.  If you've got that Monday morning feeling and getting everyone off to work and school has left you feeling frazzled, pop down for a cuppa and a cake and a bit of crochet therapy.  Hook, yarn, instruction and inspiration as well as coffee and cake are all included in the £5.  A nice way to chill out with lovely new crafty friends.  Hope to see you there.


Sunday, 22 January 2012

We Are Open!!!

So here we are at last.  Our doors opened to our lovely customers for the first time on Friday.  We hoped people would like what we done to the shop but we never thought the response would be quite so amazing.  They loved it.  :o)
Come on in and have a little look around and see what we've been up to during our brief period of blog silence.

Here's Sandra on Wednesday with our fab delivery of Stylecraft yarns.

Oh and this is me with the same bundles of yarny goodness.  Were we excited?  Just a little bit. 

On the same day we rreceived another delivery of haberdashery including these bolts of candy-coloured craft net.

With the help of my mum, and many others we managed to get it all checked off, priced up and out on display.  Then it was time to primp and titivate to make the shop look as cosy and welcoming as we'd dreamed.  We were moving tables and chairs around 5 monutes before we locked up on Thursday night.

The it was Friday.

Opening day.

This is front part part of the shop where people can sit in comfort to browse through our knitting, crochet and dress-making pattern books.  We also have copies of other crafty books that customers can have a flick through for inspiration.  And of course we will hold our workshops and crafty get-togethers here.  

 This is the counter area. 

Ta-dah!  The rainbow wall of Stylecraft yarns!  We have Special DK in a riot of colours (£2.10 per 100g ball), Wondersoft Baby in DK(£3.55 per 100g), 4 ply and 3 ply(£3.99 per 100g) weights, Special Yarn with Wool in 400g balls (£9.25) and Special Chunky (£2.30 per 100g).  It is flying.  After 2 days of trading we need to order more very quickly so if you have a particular shades you'd like us to get in shout now.  :o)

We have scrummy buttons, 

pretty pearl-headed pins,

shirring elastic in a range of lovely shades (fab for making button bracelets with),

and spotty ribbons - we <3 spots!!

This is my possibly my favourite bit of the shop - the button pick 'n' mix counter.  Kilner jars packed with fabulous buttons in every shape and colour you can think of.

So there you have it.  That's us.  Now we're open we'll be posting all the time with information about new stock deliveries, workshops and other events plus tutorials and links we think you might like.  Don't forget to find and 'like' us on Facebook for regular updates too.


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Day 5

Well I didn't make it down to the shop yet again. Mr Man that was delivering our till and sundry other fitments couldn't make it after all. So instead I totally scrambled my brain by staying at home and wrestling with HMRC online; registering for tax, National Insurance and VAT. Ouch!!!
Despite no photos for you yet again, it was a very productive day behind the scenes. I'm sure you don't want to see pictures of our insurance certificate but that's now sorted. Likewise a floor cleaner is booked for tomorrow, we have reserved a table and chairs for workshops and we have a couple more reps coming to visit us. The other half of our money is now in place and our first haby order has been paid for so should now be on its way to us. Yay!!!
It is all coming together gradually and magically we are making savings along the way. People are so generous - my mum has given us her PC as she's just had a new lap top. A big saving for our budget. Friends have showered us with offers of help, furniture and any other items they have that they think we might need. It's fantastic that we know so many lovely people.
Tomorrow I will definitely have photos for you. Sandra's hubbie has been slaving away on the woodwork for 2 days and we have to go and meet our bank lady at the shop in the morning, so we'll see all the progress he's made. Can't wait.
x x

Monday, 9 January 2012

Day 4

Only a quickie post today as it's been a weird one.  Sandra's OH has been hard at work all day today - sanding and filling and priming.  He's our resident sign writer and utter perfectionist so the outside of the shop will be pristine.  He's making everything ready for when our lovely vinyl sign is ready for installation.  The front of the shop will be fabuous.  Can't wait.

However, after making such leaps of progress every day last week today was a bit of a surprise.  Both Sandra and I felt we weren't getting anywhere or achieving anything.  Emulsioning the walls was very much a case of 'all hands on deck' but now it comes to the woodwork and you can't have one person painting while another is sanding - messy!!  So in terms of work in the shop we had ground to a halt.

Instead we decided to visit Simon - Sandra's brother and a graphic designer - to sort out the shop logo and order some postcards and other publicity material.  Yay!  We could finally tick something of our HUGE list.

Suitably fired up we went back to my house for a celebratory coffee and, mugs in hand, proceeded to sort out phone and internet supply.  Hooray.  Something else sorted out.

Sandra headed back to the shop at lunchtime to finish off the kitchen area.  You can see pictures on our Facebook page here.  I stayed at home hugging the computer and trying to place a rather lengthy order on a very slow website.  Hmmm...  Need to rethink that one.  Tomorrow I may borrow OH's Macbook and see if that improves the speed of things.  Otherwise Sandra and I may be taking a trip to Brizzle later in the week.

In the latter part of the afternoon a whole raft of appointments with reps from varying suppliers were set up for later in the week and suddnely the day didn't seem quite so fruitless as it had started out.

We did also do a little bit of work yesterday (as some of you may have seen from my Facebook page).  We have been glued to our eBay accounts watching verious items of furniture for the shop.  Yesterday we "won" a fabulous sofa for the front of the shop and a workshop table and chairs are looking quite promising too.  I just can't wait to start to collect all these bits and pieces together and start to actually organise the shop layout. 

Sorry it's a bit short on photos today.  Tomorrow the battery will be charged on my camera and I'll take some less grainy shots with the aid of that revolutionary gizmo - the flash!  My iPod doesn't seem to have one.  :-)


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Day 3

So... here endeth day 3.  As many have asked I thought today, as promised, I would give you a guided tour of the shop.  So come on in for your virtual visit.

This is the newly-sanded and primed/under-coated front window.  No longer will it be dark brown and dull.  We're going to inject a bit of brightness.  No.  I lied.  We want to inject a LOT OF BRIGHTNESS!!!  The woodwork could be white or it could be cream or it could be a colour.  We're not sure at the moment but the white undercoat has made such a huge change already.

Just to protect unwary passers-by my kiddie painted a beautiful sign to warn them of wet paint.

A lovely white door too.  Let's go in through and have a nosey around.

Here are Sandra, my OH and Kiddie working on the floor.  A total replacement is out of our price range at the moment and after the nice man yesterday said said cleaning the nasty black lumps off wouldn't be feasible.  So we decided to lift dirty ones and swap them with cleaner ones from the back of the shop.

While we're at the front of the shop, here's the kiddie priming the inside of the window frame.  Child labour is a goooood thing.  :)

And this is Sandra's current favourite corner of the shop.  The floor tiles all look nice and clean and gum-free and the walls have been painted.  Perfick! (OK.  Ignore the hole in the wall - it will be hidden by shelving so noone will know it's there).

And this is the back of the shop.  Behind the yarn pigeonholes is the place where we swipe the unsoiled floor tiles from.  We now have the fridge installed so can buy bigger bottles of milk and therefore can have more visitors/helpers to come and play.

Scattered on the floor are the contents of the kitchen and the fairy is in there hard at work again.  Shall we take a peek?

Look there she is.  Bent over her work - beavering away.  But just what is she up to? 

Ta-dah!!!  She's playing with sticky backed plastic.  All those episodes of Blue Peter she watched  weren't wasted on the fairy.  In her youth she wanted to be Valerie Singleton when she grew up. 

She has covered the stained worktop in Fablon which is actually cerise pink and lilac - what a strange camera distortion.  Bleach and Jif sorry Cif weren't doing it but again a new worktop is much further down the line.  It looks lovely now it's finished.

The next room across from the kitchen is the gents' loo.  This has not been used as a 'facility' for a long time.  It is a storeroom and cloakroom for all our coats and bags.

 Next to this is the stockroom.  Empty at the moment but not for too much longer.  Can't wait.

And finally we move across to what will be the mail order packing and despatching area. 

And then on to our office.  It's starting to look quite grown up in there already.  Quotes and invoices and a desk diary and everything.  Before too long we'll have a computer in there too and then it will be really serious.  :)

So there we have it.  Things are trundling along nicely.  All the walls are emulsioned.  All the woodwork is primed ready for paint.  A few floor tiles need gluing in place then we can have a good go at hoovering and maybe hiring a carpet cleaner just to give it a 'once over'.  Early next week we'll be able to start and move in all of our fixtures and fittings ready to take delivery of some stock.

Lots of lovely customers keep coming past and waving and popping their heads round the door to tell us how glad they are that we've taken the shop on and they can't wait for us to open.  Neither can we - wait that is.  There's still a great deal to do but it's going to be fab.

Right.  The Chinese is smelling gorgeous and the sofa is calling my tired body to come and vegetate in front of the telly.  We're having a day off tomorrow so I'll post again on Monday.


Day 2

Today, or least most of this morning, was swallowed up by the bank. Our 10am appointment just went on and on and on and on and... Still, at least we now have a bank account and we'll be able to buy some stock once our debit cards arrive.
We got back to the shop just in time for the man from the floor cleaning company to arrive. Sadly he told us that carpet tiles and chewing gum dissolving chemicals don't mix so we're a bit scuppered on that score. New flooring is a bit beyond our budget, so I think tomorrow may find us lifting and switching gummy carpet tiles for unsoiled ones.

So now here's a quick mini tour of the premises as it was on Day 1.

This is the front of the shop - the front door and the window looking out onto Tamworth Street.  Note the lovely gingham "curtain" hanging at the window.

This is the main area of the shop with random pieces of slatboard on the walls and yarn pigeonholes just in shot. 

This is our compacy and bijoux office complete with desk and shelves.  We've moved this around already but I'll post better quality photos tomorrow.
This is the kitchen area which I believe the cleaning fairy aka my mum is going to blitz tomorrow.  Yay!

As I said, I'll take more pics tomorrow and do a proper guided tour so you can see how things have progressed in just 3 days.

Our home computer has been playing up, hence the not very intersting post but tomorrow will be better.


Friday, 6 January 2012

Day 1

WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!  Today we picked up the keys to our little (or not so little) shop.  We have 15 days to get it all shipshape and Bristol fashion before we start paying rent.

We have warned the locals that we are coming so now the work begins.

Here is a little sneaky peek of the inside of our domain.  We were kindly left some fixtures and fittings by the 'shop clearing fairies' and we have been accumulating bits and bobs ourselves.

When I came back from my holidays in November I had no idea what was awaiting me.  The past 2 months have been a whirl of sleepless nights and heads full of shop and stock and partnership agreements.  But now at last it's all coming together and becoming REAL!!  Who'da thunk it?!  Me - a shop keeper?!! 

So today was the first day with the keys as I said.  I whizzed (as quickly as my trusty Bongo camper van will allow) round to pick up Sandra, the lovely Megan (her daughter and our Saturday girl), a table and chairs and a box containing the all-important tea, coffee and mugs.  The mugs didn't make it!  I lifted the box to put it in the van and $*%CRASH*!#!! the bottom fell out along with all the lovely new mugs.  :(  Not a good omen.  One or two survived but four are in little pieces in the bin.

We dropped Meg off at college without further incident and drove to the shop.  I confess, if the knees and ankles had allowed us to we would have skippied to pick up the keys and running was almost on the cards for the return journey.


We now have a two weeks grace period before we commence trading so no time to lose.  We off-loaded the stuff we'd brought with us...without any breakages this time...and I took the van home.  There is roadside parking outside the shop but only for 30 minutes and the traffic wardens are vicious!

Our first visitor (apart from the many friends, ex-customers of the shop and other people we know in Lichfield who popped their heads round the door to wish us well), was Mr Swift - the haberdashery agent.  After a catch-up, a bit of therapy and several Jaffa cakes we gave him our first order. YAY!!!!  There will be stock. 

The lovely Tina came a-calling next.  She is the rep from Gutermann threads and sorted us out with the all-important sewing threads.  Well you can't have a sewing shop without thread can you?!  She came bearing gifts of cake and biscuits.  Other reps who visit us please take note!  It'll be touch and go as to whether the thread fitments will get to us in time for opening as they have to come all the way from Germany.  Tina has promised to put the hard word on them and we've ordered some separate reels just in case so we won't be totally threadless.

Once they had gone we decided to tackle the cleaning.  Sandra plugged in her vacuum cleaner which promptly started to smoke and smell of burning!!  Luckily my mum had popped in and, although she claims to be retired, she is secretly the vac-cleaning fairy.  With screwdriver in hand she took it to bits and cleaned out a whole warren of dust bunnies.  Sadly, the demon parking warden interrupted proceedings and the vac fairy had to leave to avoid a ticket.

OK.  No cleaning.  So we went to buy paint instead.  White or magnolia...?  Decisions, decisions....  We came back with rollers, paint trays, undercoat, primer and a huge tub of magnolia.  Well the walls are that colour already so we thought it would mean only one coat was needed.  :)

In a final flurry of activity Sandra, Meg and I decided to move a few fitments around and look at the space we have to work with.   It's soooooooooooo exciting as you can now begin to get a glimpse of what the shop will be like when it's up and running. *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEAALL!!*

On that high note we decided to call it a day.  I did however pop back with my OH and DD to show them our handiwork.  We also dropped off our old fridge so now we'll be able to keep our milk, sarnies and any other goodies cool.  My fantastic OH also sorted out the 2-year old problem of the improperly flushing loo!  Halellujah!!  At long last we don't have to hold down the ballcock or use a bucket to make it flush properly.  Little things....  :)