The Hambledon Gallery
By Kate Marsden
Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?! Don’t worry if you haven’t as I have an absolute treat of a bricks and mortar shop for you this week!
I do love finding a beautiful new shop, however it turns out that one of my latest discoveries is anything but new… Back in October we had a family holiday and found ourselves in Blandford in Dorset (on a hideous wet and windy day), I dived into a pretty shop to escape the weather and fell in love! It later transpired that The Hambledon Gallery were already lending their support to our campaign. Here I’m chatting to owner Charlotte about her wonderful business and the importance of Just A Card.
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I graduated from Reading university and took a year out. Having worked in The Hambledon Gallery during holidays for much of my life, it was logical to spend some time earning and saving before a short spell travelling. When I returned I moved to London and got my first job in the fashion industry. I moved back to Dorset with my husband in 2006 and followed my destiny to work with my mum again at THG. Wendy, my mum, retired two years ago after 53 years at the shop.
What does a typical day involve?
My days are a mixture of serving customers, paying bills, sourcing new stock and keep the shop running.
Where do you work? What is your shop like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
The Hambledon Gallery is a lifestyle shop/a mini department store. We sell most things, but the majority of our turnover is from women’s wear. The best bit about the job is making customers happy. We are slightly off the beaten track, and as a destination shop, we can pretty much guarantee that a customer comes into the shop intending to buy something. Customer service is what helps keep us open.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing shop/gallery owners at the moment?
Retail is harder and harder. One thing that is getting trickier is making sure that the shop is filled with unusual things that can’t be found in loads of high street stores. Inevitably the internet has had an impact on the business, not just re. turnover, but also because it allows the consumer to search far and wide for the best possible price.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
Our website is being redeveloped at the moment and I hope that this with help generate more turnover but also attract new customers to the shop itself. The experience of shopping here where customer service is a big thing for us, is what brings people back.
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
The Just A Card campaign really struck a cord with me. My mum retired from here 18 months ago after 53 years at the coal face of retail. She has seen the changes over the years. She was always incredulous that people could spend significant amounts of time here, comment in how beautiful the shop is, what amazing varied product we have and then walk out ‘without even buying a card’. Most of our cards are £2.50, but you can buy a card here for £1.50. All those £1.50s add up, but what is more important is that buying Just A Card reassures us that we are doing the right thing, that what we do is worth the hard work and worry.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
It’s so important to remind people that they contribute, in what they may consider to be a small way, to our success and survival.
What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
We will gently remind people that Just A Card may seem like a small thing. We can’t stop internet shopping and in fact we are hoping to gain business through our new transactional site, but we can remind people that small shops and independents keep our high streets interesting and alive. We are grateful for that £1.50, people don’t need to spend any more always (it’s lovely if they do), but if they keep it in their minds that we are here, that will help keep us here.