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news on the future of our high street shop

the business rates saga (continued)

The good news (nothing to do with the rates, though)

Since last time I wrote the wool shop has won an award: the Local Trading Hero Award, from Milton Keynes Council and Destination Milton Keynes.

Thanks to all who voted for our shop.

The ‘still waiting’ news

After contacting Mark Lancaster, our local Conservative MP, and receiving a response from him saying he was willing to help, I met him by chance, just before Christmas, in the queue at our local butchers (good, he  supports local businesses too). I took the opportunity whilst we waited to ask him if there was any progress regarding obtaining small business relief for our shop. He told me I should hear something by mid January, as he had a meeting scheduled for the 8th January and the issue of the shop was on his agenda. Well, today it’s 15th January. So far I’ve heard nothing.

Some customers/friends have mentioned they also have written to the MP. People don’t want this shop to close (neither do I. Even I still have to draw a salary from this shop, I love it here!). Groups of knitters and yarn lovers visit Olney  from far away on a regular basis. So far this week we’ve had 5 lovely ladies from Harpenden, 3 mums (with toddlers) from Derbyshire, and part of a WI group from Northamptonshire. They were all delighted with the yarns at the shop, went shopping around Olney (they all had shopping bags from some of the local shops) and had lunch/refreshments from the local eateries. I think it’s safe to assume the wool shop is bringing business to our lovely town, visitors are having a pleasant visit and it’s a win/win situation. I’ve had news that a large store that used to sell yarn has closed in Northampton, so I presume some Northampton yarnies will be visiting us soon enough. I’ll put the kettle on, it’s nice to have a cuppa when looking through patterns 🙂

So what are the options?

Option number one (my preferred solution): Mr Lancaster speaks to someone who finally decides ‘the bucket stops here’ and grants us small business rates relief, therefore making it affordable for the shop to keep running as it is. You continue to get to see and feel the yarn before you buy, can get free held and advice, assistance with pattern queries, design of individual garments, a cuppa and a chat. I will get back to ordering yarn, preparing and running new courses and groups, advertising , publishing free patterns in the MK Pulse, and continuing promoting the town’s offerings. Everyone happy.

Option number two: Greed prevails and I have to leave the shop. If I can swap places and move to cheaper premises within Olney, I will do so and let everyone know. Otherwise…

Option number three: The wool shop moves away from Olney. Should I find suitable premises elsewhere. This option needs further investigation.

Option number four: The wool shop becomes yet another online shop. Happy to order yarn for you, work as a mail order company. Drawbacks: you don’t get to see the real colours and fondle the yarn before you buy, plus there’s a postage charge. Not so bad: the original wool shop kits will still be available, but online. No pattern advice. No personal touch. No help sewing up, finishing, mending mistakes etc.

So here we are, in tenterhooks, waiting to see what happens.

Thank you to all of you who have helped writing to the authorities, MPs, e-mailing, twittering, etc – thanks for your support and let’s  hope things work out for the best.

Will keep you informed.

Keep creative, keep warm. 🙂 Love, Ana x



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