It’s almost our third birthday and as we’ve been making our party preparations and chatting about our big birthday bash this weekend we’ve heard this a lot:
‘I can’t believe it’s been three years already!‘ and ‘Is that all? It feels like so much longer!’
Looking back, it’s the same for us – in some ways it feels like we’ve been here forever and a day, tucked away in the (somewhat forgotten) jewel that is the Grand Arcade. We’ve achieved such a lot in our journey so far; we’ve won awards, we’ve been recognised by our peers, we’ve won accolades, we’ve had great press, we’ve built up an AMAZING customer base (many of whom have become good friends) and of course, we have a HUGELY talented group of over 60 local makers on our shelves, who make our job so much easier!
We’ve enjoyed lots of highs, and thankfully not too many lows, which is something that we are extremely proud of in our current economic climate. It’s been hard work but at the same time, if you’re passionate about something it’s never a chore!
We’ve faced adversity with losing our first premises just 9 months into our journey, but luckily we turned that into a positive and we now have our gorgeous little shop as you see it today! Luckily we didn’t have to move far, just downstairs! OHC is a constantly evolving process and we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve completely moved everything around after deciding to move just one stockist – but we do have lots of fun (if creating a little bit of chaos) doing so!
We’re extremely lucky that we have truly fabulous customers who return to us time and time again, even if it’s just annually! Hearing ‘I couldn’t wait to come back to this gorgeous gift shop’, ‘I’m so glad you’re still here’ or ‘I don’t go anywhere else for my gifts’ frankly never gets old!
At the other end of the scale, we find new customers calling in each day who ‘had no idea you were here!’. That makes us feel like a brand new shop again and is so lovely to see our little shop through those fresh eyes. But at the same time it makes us feel a little bit sad that there are still so many people who aren’t aware of what we do or where we are. We guess that’s always going to be the case, and lets face it, we can probably all say that we’ve walked past the same spot hundreds of times and not seen all there is! People get so busy and so focussed on where we are headed that we don’t always have the time to stop and take stock of our surroundings. If we did, we’d see the abundance of glorious architecture within Leeds and the ongoing evolution of our fair city.
We are all creatures of habit, often visiting the same places to eat out, to enjoy a coffee and a catch up with pals, to shop and to sightsee. Leeds itself is a challenge to negotiate at times; with it’s pricy (and often lack of) parking, it’s complicated road system, frequent changes to public transport, and the seemingly never-ending road works, there’s no wonder that some of us prefer not to explore further!
Luckily for us, many people do break the habit and decide to visit us and the other Independent Retailers in the Grand Arcade – and for that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! If you are stuck for ideas and unsure of where to visit there are some great guides to Leeds which are currently available – the Independent Leeds Black Book, the Leeds Welcome City Discovery phone app, and the ’21 Ridiculously good reasons to make Leeds your next day out!” (check out number 8!) are some of our personal favourites. And we can promise you this, if you do venture out of your usual surroundings, you can find some gems of places to visit and intriguing shop windows to peek into!
As we sit here and look around at all of the handmade loveliness which surrounds us, the many beautiful gifts which our customers are choosing to spend their hard earned and precious spare pennies on, we are extremely grateful to each and every customer who takes the time to walk through our door. Every purchase helps to keep us in business and we couldn’t ask for more than that.
We can honestly say that we adore what we do and we hope to carry on for many more birthdays to come! So we hope that you can join us this Saturday to raise a glass with us and celebrate!
Claire & Nat x