So how did we start?
In 2010, after two years retirement and crafting at home Tricia Heath decided to start selling some of her handcrafted cards etc and where better than the space at the back of 13 Queen Street, a property she’d owned for many years and was currently just used as storage. The original idea was to sit and craft and serve the occasional customer. We’ve all struggled to fine time to craft since then – but not complaining – the success of 13 the warehouse has been fantastic. In the beginning Tricia was joined by daughter Faye to plan the adventure. Faye & her husband Claude began the mammoth task of clearing the ‘warehouse’ – amazing how much stuff a family can accumulate over the years.
As the preperations began, brother Andrew joined in. One of many memorable moments was when Andrew, Faye and Claude carried a large tree along the promenade from Hornby terrace to go in the coffee bar – a few minutes after delivering it they headed back out with a telegraph pole which had been stored in the warehouse – must have looked like the quickest moulding ever!
So the warehouse at the back was cleared, heating was installed as well as new electrics. Lots and lots of painting! We created a small kitchen and coffee area. From Atkinsons of Lancaster we purchased and had barista training on our super bright red all singing coffee machine.
We had very little stock to start with, but lots and lots of hand crafted cards!
We started to sell fat ¼’s of fabric on line together with our rag rug kits.
What was our office/packing room became the classroom for sewing, crochet and memory book making. Later to become the ‘kids’ room.
We started to sell local crafts, jewellery, paintings etc on a commission basis, and now have approximately 30 artisans selling their products in store at any one time. So there’s always lots of original goodies to see.
Next big move to accommodate our ever growing stock was to open up the basement, which we did by cutting out part of the concrete floor to reveal the old stone stairs from the cellar to what was originally the back yard. Tanking the basement, cleaning the inner stone walls, original stone and tile floors (brother Andrew cleaned the tiles with a toothbrush!)
Heating and electrics and three rooms were brought back into use. The original stone sink is still down in the large room.
At this stage, my daughter Faye and I decided to make the business into a Ltd Company
Another year on and we took back use of the front shop. The tenants moved further down Queen Street. As it had been an ‘adult’ shop, there was a period of time after conversion when some very bewildered customers came through the doors – not expecting fabrics and crafts.
We put artificial grass on the floor and brought in more trees from our gardens for display and it was great before we displayed even more stock to see some customers sitting on the grass to discuss projects. No space for that now, as it’s full of stock.
This also allowed us access to the centre staircase to the now fabric floor, with each step painted a different colour – we often guide customers to our fabric range over the rainbow.
Another year on, and we expanded the fabric floor by adding another two rooms which were formerly a flat – giving us a room for evening or ‘dressy’ fabrics and classroom for sewing – together with our very compact office. Most of the bespoke fittings in the shop were created and handmade by Faye, but sorry, she doesn’t take commissions – (although she has been known to make the odd set piece for local church/amateur shows)
We are currently having our own website created by ‘Bucket and Spade’ marketing, to enhance our fabric sales and add other aspects of our wide range of products which visitors constantly ask if available on line. Hopefully, – for this is the intention, – larger internet sales will allow us to extend the shop even further – we have big plans in progress. Please watch this space
As far as we know the front building and stables behind were thought to be the first buildings on Queen Street in 1820.
Originally a grocers, the small flat roofed ‘till’ room was an open yard with stone stairs down to a working basement space. This had a massive stone slab table in the small ‘rug’ room, a stone sink, and paving stones (still down there) in the large room and the original tiles and fireplace still in situ in the front room. The tiny room with stone slab shelf in the middle, and the fireplace room had the remains of a window in the opening when I bought it in 1983, so that part was obviously originally open to the outside.
The back room was a stable and some of the large metal tethering rings were still left in the walls. A large double door still exists to the side wall facing Nelson Street, so there must have been an entrance there at one time. The entrance passageway had large hooks in the ceiling.
In ….. the front building became offices for the Evening Post and Lancaster/Morecambe Guardian – the printing press was in the back warehouse.
We still get visiting ex-employees of the newspapers in the shop to see what changes we’ve made – and to reminisce on past times.
When I bought the property in 1983 Central Printing were in the warehouse and the front was split into two shops – one of which was Walter Metcalfe videos. I had the first floor of the building incorporated into the shop and moved ‘Nanci Boutique’ from 25 Queen Street into the new premises. Two flats were made upstairs. After a couple of years Walters part of the shop was incorporated into “Nanci’s”. After retiring for the first time in 1990 the shop was rented out to several different business’s including ‘celebration cakes’, St John’s Hospice, vitage market, fabrics, secondhand furniture and Sin til late. The warehouse part has included a kick boxing school, domestic appliance centre, Darwen’s carpets/upholstery .