When I was just 4 years old I started work. My auntie ran a newsagents though it was so much more than just a newsagents. She sold everything and always told me that if they didn’t have what someone asked for they’d find an alternative. My dream even then was to have my own shop. I just didn’t realise it.
I was always quite good with numbers, it runs in the family. I’ve always kind of felt guilty about it. Fellow pupils at school who seemed to work so hard for their maths exams and I never had to. Numbers just made sense and it doesn’t seem fair but that’s life and there are countless other things I am not good at that they were. Anyway, because of my ‘gift’ my auntie used to show off when I was as young as 4 by getting me to serve the customers and give them the right change. There were no contactless payments or automatic tills, if the sums were very complicated it was added up with a pen and paper.
I loved everything about that shop. From stocking the shelves, seeing if I could squeeze just one more packet of crisps on to the rack to making up 10p sweetie lucky bags (10p of sweeties in the bag, about 20p in my mouth!).
As I grew I got to know more of the business. I helped with stock taking each year and my favourite bit was sitting in the freezing cold stock room out the back in front of the electric bar fire with notepad and calculator adding up endless lists of numbers. We’re all a bit weird in one way or other right?!
When I grew up
I thought I’d become an accountant but a desire to ‘make the world a brighter place’ drove me in to engineering. As I began my university life studying civil engineering, so my auntie retired and so ended my dream of running that little shop.
I could have taken over the business, never gone to university. But then I’d never have gone to Africa and worked as a water and sanitation engineer and helped a few to improve their village life. I’d never have met my husband either, moved to the beautiful Isle of Lewis and had 4 children and made the choice to give up my career.
…and then I might not have started working from home, selling things.
My dream come true?
Funny how you can look back on your life and see choices made without realising the true reason for making those choices. It was only after selling from home for about 5 years alongside being a full time mum that the penny dropped. I loved retail! I wanted a shop!
But times have changed since I was 4. We now have internet, supermarkets and global imports on a scale never seen before. Newspapers and sweeties are still sold in shops but even newspapers have gone online and sweeties are no longer a ha’penny. My personal opinion of newspapers has also changed, perhaps why I sell the Happy Newspaper!
So I never thought a physical shop was a reality now. Too many high street stores are short lived, too many empty town centres. Times have changed. Furthermore, living in a fairly remote location in the Outer Hebrides I knew I had to embrace the online market. And I have. Combining some local fairs and events with a growing online presence I have built up my Cards and Gift Wrap business slowly, year by year, reinvesting everything back in while raising my 4 children. Always with a pre-school child by my side, ‘helping’ mum.
And then, just a small thing, covid-19 happened. My online business thrived but the fairs and events were gone. My shop-in-a-basket that served many local workplaces vanished. Time to think outside the box. On top of that my husband started working from home more and we were homeschooling all in the same room that I had hoped would be my ‘stock room’. Something has to change.
Maybe, just maybe…
We’re lucky to have a big garage which is already in two sections. Maybe, just maybe…
Could we convert one part in to a pop up shop?
That’s why I’ve launched a Kickstarter. Not just to raise the money for the materials to make the garage dry and waterproof but to see if there is enough local interest for me to have a physical presence. To see if 40 years on I could have my own ‘shop’ and realise my dream.