As part of the Observer’s Love Your Shops campaign, this week we’re featuring some of the city’s independent shopmakers.
From pop-up collectives to long-established names, Chichester has much to offer shoppers looking for a specialist touch and that authentic market town feel.
Melanie Luckes set up Luckes, a supplement shop, café and wellbeing clinic, in May and already has plans to open a second branch for takeaways in Waitrose car park this September.
She said: “It was an enormous leap of faith for me to open up but thanks to our growing band of loyal customers it’s going really well. We get a good number of shoppers walk past on their way to the car park and the other nice shops near us.”
Chichester is also a destination for fine jewellery and independents like R.L Austin and Timothy Roe are just two of the long-established success stories.
Dan Roe, from Timothy Roe, in South Street, said: “We have been trading since 1996 and I think the fact we are very much still here and doing well boils down to a couple of things.
“First and foremost we have a great knowledgeable team both on the shop floor and in the workshops above the shop.
“The second is the unique selling point of the on-site workshops themselves. Being able to create and repair jewellery, end to end, and have control over each step of the process really gives local customers a good reason to come to us, as well as customers from further afield, as far away as Scotland.
“Having people travel from outside the area to Chichester town centre to see us and experience our customer service is always nice and the support we have from our local customers is fantastic.”
Coffee Lab moved into the Cathedral Courtyard last November and already has its own regular customer base.
The café is one of a small independent group of five shops in the South East.
Manager Lucy White said being in Chichester reminded her of the close knit community on the Isle of Wight, where she grew up.
She said: “Everyone’s close and friendly and supportive of one another, easy to get along with. You know that they’ve got your back and you’ve got theirs.”
Stephen Lawrence runs the menswear store by the same name in St Martin’s Square.
He said: “We’ve been here 25 years. We’ve got a good following from local people which is very good. I was from the area and our business is based very much on a personal level, we know most of the customers by Christian names, which is lovely.
“I’m positive with Chichester going forward. Chichester’s always got a nice feel about it. We’ve got a good pull from other places, it’s all because Chichester is such a nice city.”
Whitmore Jones, one of the city’s longest-running shops, opened in Oving Road in 1946. The family furniture business, in its fourth generation, is owned by Micheal Whitmore Jones (pictured with Nic Loubser and Gerald Lloyd). He said: “We’ve always done very well, we operate very much off our reputation. We have generations of the same families coming back to us. It’s just a case of making yourself relevant to your customer base.”
Draper’s Yard is now a well established place where creativity flourishes.
It is a courtyard full of small businesses selling all manner of handmade products from around 20 permanent sheds.
Located in The Hornet in a former pub’s defunct garden space, it houses a collection of independents selling anything from fine jewellery to art and textiles, and ceramics, as well as a hairdressers and coffee van, and is growing in popularity.
In Crane Street, off North Street, Spires Bakery and Café offers a range of breakfasts, lunches and snacks.
Steve Lee set up the shop with with his business partner, Susan Glyde, 12 years ago.
The five-strong team all live in the area and Steve said he knows all of his regular customers by name.
He said: “We’re proud of what we do. We do home-made cakes and pies and pastries, freshly-made sandwiches and great coffee.”
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