|Silk velvet dyed by Alison Crosthwaite|
Last night a friend said, 'I do all my shopping online now. It's so much easier.' And I expect a lot of people think the same. But when you enter a bricks and mortar shop like Handmade Happiness it's a sensory pleasure. You can feel the materials, you can look through the kaleidoscopes, you can share your reactions with a friend, you get personal service from a real live shop assistant (me!) and a warm (human) welcome.
I love it when customers respond enthusiastically to things in the shop. I encourage them to pick things up and try things on. I wouldn't trust myself to make a decision to buy if I couldn't do that.
(If I see the sign Please don't touch in a shop or at an exhibition I always read it as Please don't buy.)
So I personally couldn't buy off the internet. I wouldn't be able to tell the quality from a mere picture. I need to pick things up.
It's much cheaper to have an online shop. You don't have to pay rent, or for your electricity, water, card machine hire and telephone.
At Handmade Happiness those bills have to be paid whether people spend anything or not. The fact is an awful lot of people come in and say 'I'm just looking for ideas'. If they knew that for the shop to survive it has to take more than £50 a day just to break even would they occasionally buy something? Just a card or a button would do.
Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled when people get inspiration and excitement from seeing the beautifully designed and made items Handmade Happiness has on sale. I love it when they leave dying to get home and on to their sewing machine to make something for themselves. I'd just like them to know that for the shop to continue to provide this free service, to continue to be the wonderful, sensory overload experience that makes them happy, they have to occasionally buy something, otherwise bills can't be paid and the next time they come 'just looking for ideas' the shop will be gone.