With the website going well and the lockdown restrictions easing, the idea of a physical shop began floating around my head. Once there's a 'bee in my bonnet' anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a woman on a mission!
The first thing was to decide where would be a good place to open Willow & Nutmeg. It wasn't long before Camberley was settled on. Then the grown up stuff of finding a suitable premise began. In no time at all the unit opposite Superdrug in the shopping centre was chosen. The legalities with these things take time, patience is not my strongest virtue, but patient we were.
Sourcing fixtures and fittings along with deciding on a colour scheme etc were some of the simpler, more fun things to do. Sorting out a card payment machine and music licence some of the necessities. One of the best things about coming to Camberley was all the support and encouragement from the shopping centre staff and other independant retailers who were a mine of information.
June 28, 2021 we got the keys to 7 Prince of Wales Walk, Camberley. The wonderful
decorators moved in the following week and within 10 days we were ready to open! Was Camberley ready for us though?
The amazing Mayor of Surrey Heath, Sarah Croke officiated at the opening and yes, she cut the ribbon! Several members of family and friends also made the grand occasion along with centre management. It was a great day but somewhat scary!
It didn't take long for 'strangers' to pop in for a mooch, a chat and even to purchase. Everyone was so kind and encouraging. I cannot tell you how many times people commented that it was so lovely to see an new independant business in the town. Everyone loves the way the clothes are arranged by colour and the range of sizes that we stock. So many people asked if we were a pop up and only there for a short time. Our reply was that as long as Camberley wanted us to stay we would be there. We were not aiming to be a pop up!
Judging how much stock to have was, and still can be, one of the hardest things to get right. Certain items like parachute dresses and magic trousers flew and still fly out the door, others can hang around for a while but on the whole we haven't had too many 'fails'. We're so lucky to have so many lovely clients and so many 'regulars' now too. I think the fact that we have quite a high turnover of stock helps. It has been a mission of ours to not stock too many of any one item right from the start. This means that our clients aren't all walking around in the same things and that we can bring in fresh stock on a regular basis. Something new, be it clothing, jewellery or gifts, is introduced each week.
We're now nearly 9 months in to our Camberley boutique and still loving it. There's still a lot to learn and the centre manager was right when she said that there would be lots of hidden costs along the way. All that said, the experience is amazing and by far one of the best things I've ever done. None of it could have been done without my family. From helping to design the layout of the shop to running it and all the behind the scenes love and support, Willow & Nutmeg is very much a family affair.