Sunday 8 March is International Women’s Day, an opportunity to talk about women who’ve inspired us. I’m inspired by Kirsty Rose Parker who set up The Shop in Nelson.
Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s not just a shop. It’s a community space where people can relax and drink coffee, bring the kids, watch artists at work, take part in a workshop or just use the wifi and charge their phones.
The shop itself sells vintage, new, second-hand and hand-made items, all displayed creatively. As much as possible is sourced locally, and unwanted items are lovingly restored and sold.
How does The Shop help the local community?
We are trying to help the local community by creating activity in the town centre which will attract more footfall and more visitors into town itself. We are running a workshop programme of activity in The Shop and have just started to advertise a series of artist commissions to encourage exciting projects designed to bring people back into Nelson.
What did you have to do to get the project up and running?
Getting the project up and running has not been easy. It took over a year to raise the money for the whole project with a few hurdles on the way. Our first Arts Council bid was turned down but we re-worked it and made some changes and then we were successful.
What was the most challenging part?
Negotiating leases was easier than expected but slower than we had hoped. We only got the keys five weeks before our advertised opening weekend. And then only four weeks before opening the electrics in the building were condemned and then we had to carry out a number of cleaning and painting tasks by torchlight! The team really pulled together and after some very long days the Shop did open to the public on the 6 December.
Since then we have continued to tweak our stock and our displays, to advertise the place more, we’ve set up a Mum&Baby group on Friday mornings. The outside of the building has changed dramatically as we have new signage and a paint refresh to make our space look more colourful.
And the most rewarding?
What is really lovely is listening to people talk about what we have done here. Comments include “It reminds me of Covent Garden”, “It’s very different isn’t it?” and “Oh it is nice to have a new shop in Nelson”. Most visitors seem to love having something so quirky and unusual for their town, which has been a bit left behind in the past.
What advice would you give to people who want to start their own community project?
Make sure it is something you are passionate about and can still be passionate about six months later, when you are tired, or carrying heavy items, or being criticised. It’s not easy but it really is worth it. Also, plan everything out and make lists. Work from the end of the project backwards. Imagine what it will look like when it’s all done and then work out what you need to do to make that a reality. And say yes to any training courses or conversations from people who have done it and been there.
Overall, we are team who are committed to changing our community, we believe in our town and want it to be vibrant and exciting. We are a creative group and our shop reflects that being full of colour and ideas, and is a space where you can make yourself at home.