A new and hopefully calmer year
2012 was eventful and fairly traumatic for us as a business.
A hard trading year as for everyone in retail, and changes were necessary for a number of reasons at the end of it. We loved our time at the Grail Centre, but with the site due to be developed into a housing estate, we had no security of tenure or access, and had to call it a day.
What the Gallery and workshop space proved unequivocally to us is that we CAN run top flight art exhibitions, art classes, evening talks, teaching and coaching sessions, and manage a multi-dimensional and multi-functional space. We are justifiably proud of what we achieved there and we hope that we can continue to facilitate further events in Glastonbury as other commitments permit.
We also had to make the tough decision to close the smaller of the two remaining shops. We chose to announce both closures simultaneously in October, when it became clear that we could not sustain the Magick Box through yet another tough winter.
Earlier in the year we lost our last employee who took voluntary redundancy to face and beat an illness. J. had been with me for 8 of the 9 years. That change alone dictated our pattern for the summer, where we could not keep both shops and the Gallery open daily, even with several regular volunteers. We also could not keep up the pace with all our other commitments.
All in all we viewed the concentration on the one shop as a positive move that would allow us a measure of calm in our lives. Eventually.
And we are moving slowly towards that process, but other influences are pushing us in other directions too. We were regular attendees an the Grail Centre art classes and as a consequence we are comfortable that 2013 will see any more of our own internally produced art lines. I have now sold a couple of painted drums and I am sure we can sell more. Cards, prints and originals will help us add value and keep it unique. Another strong influence has been the several book collections we have received from various sources, which have turned us into a fairly serious book shop without really trying. Right now we wish we had budget to buy a lot more, but selling books on commission has kept us busy and happy to sell, discuss and sort all those lovely books (from several genres).
We still have to clear the floor space and redesign now we have cut down from 3 premises to one, but that is cosmetic. We have maintenance to complete and storage to install, but that is a once-only task.
We have no intention of expanding again beyond the one shop, and this gives us a clear focus. We have to improve and update the website (MASSIVELY, after nearly 10 years), and we have to clear and refurbish the home workshop so that I can begin to make commissions and woodwork items for the shop again (it has been a few years now, but it essentially allows me a fair rate for my time!).
Our own health has also been of concern. I am getting older, and the continued stress of the recession has definitely taken its toll, so cutting down to one shop has taken both a financial AND logistical burden off us.
We have both sought external work to keep things going - L. is continuing her teaching work in English and Creative Writing, and I have taken a few hours a week a friends pub. Both are fun, exhausting, and keep us sane, by giving us other perspectives.
Overall, I am hopeful that thing will ease a little for us in 2013, but only because we have made it so - I am not at all confident that the recession, in retail terms at least, will be a long time shifting in the UK.
Just my thoughts.
If you've got this far I thank you and doubtless we will see you down the road.....