The Perfect Storm

Hello out there,

How are you doing? Below is an update on how things are for me at the moment.

Do you have a few minutes to spare?

I love my life and my job as a shopkeeper selling high quality ethical clothing, it feels great to not have my morals compromised by my working life and I happily give up things like long holidays and new cars to enjoy the easy routine of a leisurely breakfast, of walking to work and of being home shortly after five each day. After all, one cannot have it all.

However, I do still have bills to pay and at the moment it seems the wheels may be about to fall off my simple little life; things are very slow at the moment. It feels like a perfect storm and as I’m wondering what to do I thought I’d ask you a few questions to help me decide.

As things stand I am committed to stock purchases I have made for autumn and winter of this year and have two weeks to decide if I’m then going to buy in for next spring/summer. Quite frankly, I’m not sure there’s any point. One of the main aims in setting up the business was to be a useful local shop and I’m not sure I’m useful anymore. The brands that I sell are now more widely available and I wonder if you prefer to buy direct from the brands own stores or from bigger shops where you have more choice.

Am I a useful shop for you?

Since moving out of town I have had to work much harder to achieve turnover and until February of this year things were going o.k. Sales have since dropped off a cliff. My first thought was to maybe move back into Hebden Bridge, and that is still an option, but it would be expensive and having canvassed opinion from those still trading in town I am not hearing much to encourage me.

Are you shopping in Hebden Bridge (or on your local high street)?

Want to come into business with me to create a bigger, more fabulous, shop in Hebden Bridge?

It would be easy to blame my downturn on the traffic lights on Burnley Road and they have definitely made a difference. I completely understand that risking a forty minute round trip to travel the two miles over here is, to say the least, off-putting. Having survived two floods it would be cruel irony to be shut down by the engineering works though I accept, of course, that the works are necessary and flood prevention is more essential for the future of the area than the survival of a small clothes shop.

Have you considered coming to the shop but been put off by the traffic?

Have you considered a shopping trip to Hebden Bridge but been put off by the traffic?

Do you know I offer free delivery to those who arrive on foot or bicycle?

Or that I can bring things to the little shop (in Hebden) for you to try on?

There is also a much bigger picture here; it is not just my in-store sales that are slow but also my on-line and even Ebay sales. It was these other selling platforms that I’d hoped would shield me from any future local problems but I am receiving communications from independents around the country telling sad tales of poor sales and the news is littered with stories about bigger players shutting shops or experiencing difficulties. I have also spoken to various people who have businesses outside of retail and many of them are saying it’s been a particularly difficult three months. The country has been in recession of one kind or another for the eleven years I have been doing this and I have managed. We now also have Brexit to negotiate.

Do you think we are in for some kind of major economic meltdown?

Has it begun but is not being reported?

A theory I have heard on the radio is that the effects of extended austerity are filtering slowly from the largest down to the smallest purchases and up to the relatively wealthy from the already poor because recent wage rises have done very little to catch up with the much inflated cost of living that has occurred over the last few years. So, if it’s not too personal a question:

Are you particularly skint at the moment ?

Wayne Hemingway of Red Or Dead came up with the more positive theory that people are no longer buying things to make themselves feel better - retail therapy - they have become more mindful about the environmental impact of their purchases and are preferring to spend their money on social and experiential things like meals out, sports classes and holidays.

Are you making an effort to consume fewer ‘things’ for environmental reasons?

If so, this is commendable, and I applaud you. One of the things I am considering is to re-structure the business with less stock but to include a repair service.

Would a repair service be useful to you?

Maybe it’s just time for me to leave my comfort zone, start a new chapter, even get a job (I believe there is going to be plenty of fruit picking positions coming up) or maybe I’ll join an ashram. Weirdly I feel less scared of this than I would have imagined - perhaps the effects of early career burnout have finally worn off, or it could be the new exercise regime (yoga and circuit training) keeping me calm or maybe it’s my *CBD oil working its magic.

So last question

Got any work going starting January next year?

Whatever your thoughts I’d be glad to hear them, and you don’t need to spare my feelings, I may be all at sea but I’m also feeling pretty sanguine in my rocky little boat.

Much love.



* for more information about our local supplier of CBD oil go to



35 Responses

  1. Hi Kate. Sad to hear this news, the market place is changing quickly these days and yes I hear what you say about being able to get the stuff you sell from a wider market now. Obviously you dont get the ace chats or the great service shopping that way, if only that paid the bills eh? I think this is austerity biting and I believe people are being more careful about what they spend on as they do not have as much spare cash. Although when I do have some to spare I prefer to spend on a piece that serves a function that I need it for rather than cheap throw away fashion tat with a bad production history. I think there is less spontaneous shopping. To me people also seem to have a lot less time, I know I feel I am always busy and I hardly get chance to shop anymore . I will browse online if I need something as I can do this in the evening or between jobs, 10 Minutes here or there. It would be good if there was some sort of shared space like The Corn Exchange in Manchester used to be . You could then perhaps have a space in it and share the costs of the building/rent. Any buildings like that around ? Maybe worth trying . . I appreciate the mill in Hebden is similar perhaps to this idea but I reckon people forget that it is there , can you raise awareness of your presence there somehow? Would a second hand rail work? So people who have bought from you, say a coat, which has loads of wear left in it but they fancy something new could bring it back and get a small amount knocked off their next purchase and you then get to sell the coat as seconds so those with a smaller budget could afford something decently too.? Also sports wear perhaps- yoga gear I would love for sure. So much yoga round here , yoga gear with ethical principles matches well together . Glad you are loving the yoga Much love Carla
    • kate Grant
      Brill. Thanks for taking the time to share your ideas. I'll let you know what I decide to do. xx
  2. Hi Kate. Sorry to hear times so tough. There are people I know who come to Hebden Bridge and miss going to your lovely shop on the main street. It appears to me (though what do I know?)that your shop in town is tricky for people to find and that's if you know it's there. It has become noticeable that shops are closing in town and that cafes and beer shops are opening and it's a sad state of affairs. There still seem to be plenty of visitors to the town ,and residents ,with money to spend. In my humble opinion a ground floor, town centre shop is the way to go with a cafe next door...or in the same store. Good luck. Teresa
    • kate Grant
      Thanks Teresa. Are you o.k? x
  3. Hi Kate An interesting read I am trying to buy less but if you were in Hebden Bridge centre I would/ might pop in and buy more as you’d tempt me in with something in the window I I sometimes cycle up but the traffic lights and road works have actually stopped me coming up to cragg today in van as people have reported in taking them an hour ! The stuff you sell is great quality so you don’t need to replace it as often as other stuff But some brands like Patagonia and fjalraven have now got their own stores in Manchester (where I work) with the full range .... I wish you well in whatever you do and whatever the future holds
    • kate Grant
      Thanks Jocasta. That's very helpful to hear. x
    • kate Grant
      Hi Jocasta, The replies are all kind of adding up to what I already thought. A cunning plan is required. Thanks so much for taking the time. x
  4. Jan
    Hi Kate, sad to hear things are rocky. I'm not overkeen on shopping so would never go on a 'shopping trip'. If , however, I happened to pop into your Hebden shop on the way back from the co-op, I'd be more than likely to buy myself something lovely! That doesn't happen now you're up in Cragg I'm afraid. I think location is really important for people like me. Best of luck.
    • kate Grant
      Thanks Jan. I completely get it. It's complicated of course but I would have loved to see the shops on Market Street turned into two-storied emporiums so it would have felt safer to stay there.
  5. Hi Kate Sorry to hear things aren’t busy. Like others I reckon it’s mainly a result of austerity biting but we’re also hearing of other industries talking recession too. Though we don’t buy lots of clothes, we do come to you when we’re in need of something. If you were in Hebden, we would probably be enticed to pop in, browse and pick up something because we liked it rather than when we needed something, That said, aware the rents are ridiculous now in town, and it has to make business sense. Will keep eyes peeled for any shop opportunities for you Gx
    • kate Grant
      Thanks Gayle. It's certainly an odd climate. Do let me know if you have any premises ideas. x
  6. Hi Kate Really sorry to hear it’s tough. The roadworks is a complete nightmare for you and probably a major factor but the other thing that’s killing you (and you’re not alone) is the big A. No, that’s not Austerity. Hebden is packed every weekend with visitors spending their money. It’s Amazon. I know a thing or two about how the online giants are changing the world and would be happy to buy you a beer if you’d like to talk it over. Katherine used to work in fashion retail of course so she’d be delighted to help too. Love Julian (and K) x
    • kate Grant
      Hi Julian, I might take you up on that. Thanks. x
  7. Hey Kate! I'm sorry to hear of your troubles. I miss your shop being in Hebden - I'd be unlikely to make a special trip out to Cragg Vale (call me lazy...) and was much more likely to be tempted in by something cute in the window. That said, I wasn't ever a big spender - more of a sales/trinket shopper - and I'm not really spending anything much at all at the moment as I don't have much of an income. So I'm probably not the person to base your future plans on! I hope you find a way through this that's right for you. X
    • kate Grant
      Thanks Alison. All useful feedback.
  8. Dear Kate So sorry to read this, I miss you on Market street but I really don't know if coming back to Hebden is the answer. Today again I said to my partner £58 all week in takings is not going to pay bills and I know our products are specialist or niche but I feel there is something for everyone in the items we sell, Amazon is one of our main competitors and you hear people actually say out loud oh I can buy it £8 pounds cheaper on there , well I am sorry but we cannot even buy it in for the prices they're selling at . As for ebay I cannot remember the last time we actually sold a item from our eBay store and people tend to head there before heading to your own actual website. Yes Hebden Bridge is certainly receiving the footfall even with the roadworks and definitely on a weekend but I honestly believe the spend is not in retail but food and drink and more shops seem to be closing and replaced by cafes / bars but to be fair only they can afford rent / rates in the likes of the old Nat West bank not retail shops. Maybe the way forward is to shop share , 2 ladies retail shops in Hebden are about to move in together and hopefully this will keep both businesses afloat I do hope so. Thinking of you Kate x
    • kate Grant
      Hi Mandy, a good friend has also suggested something shared but the visible/available shops in town are either tiny or too expensive. I too have noticed lots of people in Hebden on Sundays when I'm there but not many shopping bags. Thanks for taking the time. x
  9. Move back to Hebden. I miss your shop and so do others. I hate shopping trips so popping in to your shop on Market St suited me. I knew there would always be stuff in I liked. Without it being an investment of my time going there.I'm not a big clothes shopper at all , but on line shopping has no appeal at all as I can't be bothered sending things back if they don't fit. Good luck!!!
    • kate Grant
      Thanks Catherine. x
  10. I’m feeling bad for not visiting you - I need a couple of things to replace previous purchases. But time is short and I don’t shop often so I live in a world of ‘maybe next week’ until I literally run out of things to wear. Cragg or Hebden hasn’t made a difference tbh. I’m not (weirdly) skint but I am saving as much as I can and paying down old debts and my mortgage as much as I can because I’m worried that this is the calm before the storm. Interest rates will go up and there’s Brexit. I guess I won’t be alone in worry like that. I can see this will have an impact on habits - kind of making things appear worse now than they are fundamentally. You are getting a crowd sourced view of the local economy. I hope it’s helpful.
  11. Hi Kate, now I’m no expert when it comes to this sort of thing but what I do know is that Hebden isn’t the same without Dynamite. With the floods it is easy to see why you left for higher ground but you took a little bit of magic away with you. Seeing you, in summer, sat outside your shop as I passed through-it was like all is well with the world, Kate’s outside her shop ☺️. The technicalities of running your own business is seriously lost on me but it must be worrying at times like this. Your clothing lines are gorgeous and superb quality. In a climate where people tend to spend less on throw away goods it’s easy to see how some of your pieces could be seen as considered purchases. But, that said, you do get what you pay for and your clothing lines will last decades. People often don’t know they need something until they see it, by chance, staring at them from a shop display. You can only do what is best for you and your business given the situation. It would be a crying shame if there was no Dynamite anymore.
    • kate Grant
      Thanks Rachel. I do miss being a part of the Hebden Vibe. x
  12. Nic
    Hi Kate So sorry to hear this - I hope you manage to figure something out. For what it's worth I would say your location has been a problem for me. When you were on Market St I would pop in on a regular basis when I was in town on errands etc. I did seek out your small shop in the mill but found it hard to find and very unsure it was even up there until I got right to the door. Much as I've often planned to come and visit you up at CV it has never happened as I never have the free time unfortunately. My personal shopping is always squeezed into work or errand trips. Having said all that it doesn't explain the sudden drop since Feb as the location hasn't changed since then. So I would think that the roadworks have definitely had an effect - I do everything possible to avoid having to travel past Mytholmroyd - I choose Burnley over Halifax every time. I also agree with your thoughts about experience vs "things". I've definitely taken a conscious decision to consume less. BUT I am now prepared to buy more expensive items if I think they will be keepers. So this should be good for your product range I would have thought. I have thought for a long time that people these days think nothing of spending £20 on a visit to a cafe and yet wouldn't be prepared to pay much more than that for clothing. I definitely think that is a change in society and Wayne Hemingway is spot on. My main feeling though is that your business premise for high quality ethical clothing is spot on. But to sell this well you need to be in the right place. Hope my ramblings are of some use but more importantly I hope you manage to figure it out. Nic x
    • kate Grant
      Good Morning Nic, really useful. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. x
  13. Hi Kate, also sorry to hear of the difficulties. I love your shop and the personal service you provide and would be really sad to see you close. Having said that I do find it harder to get to cragg vale. Hebden Bridge would definitely result in more purchases from me. Online shopping now feels so much easier and cheaper than the high street too though plenty of people in HB are committed to buying local. I’ll make sure I think of you first when I’m next tempted to buy online. (Also aware I need to come down to HB shop as you’re holding some trousers I asked to try on! sorry I went away (to an ashram coincidentally!) but I’ll pop by over this weekend or next). Good luck, really hope things turn around or you find new and just as rewarding directions. Loved the idea of a returns rail too from previous poster! Carrie
    • kate Grant
      Hi Carrie, thanks for taking the time to respond. I've brought the trousers back up here thinking you'd tried them on. I'll bring them with me tomorrow so call up to the mill if it's convenient. How was you birthday party? It looked like you had a great time. x
  14. I love your shop and I have been and bought from you in your new location. I have to say that it has crossed my mind several times in the past few months to pay you a visit and have a look round but in common with others I am put off by the journey. It all comes down to time and not wanting to sit in traffic with the kids. I would definitely be much more likely to visit and buy if you were based in Hebden. I really hope you can come up with a plan and things improve.
    • kate Grant
      Thanks Sarah, it's really useful to hear. x
  15. Hi sorry to hear your news I loved your shop in Hebden Great clothes, helpful non intrusive service and have never forgotten your  support for our first Folk Festival Miss both you and your eye for well made quality stuff Fraid it's a simple matter for me.I walk everywhere so never pass your new place I would love you to move back  to Hebden Whatever you decide I hope things soon take a turn for the better  Regards Brian
  16. Hi Kate As with all the others I am so sorry to hear of your troubles - I did find the trade fair I do quieter this year so I think generally people are not spending as much while we all see what Brexit brings....... As for me I do miss you In Hebden as I am usually on foot & would get drawn in by your window. Also tho I know wouldn’t make your fortune with my spending & appreciate the cost of a Hebden shop. Is there any way of getting more publicity for your bridge mill shop? Kate x
    • kate Grant
      Hi Kate, good to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time. It’s very useful getting all this feedback, especially from other small businesses and the ideas are running around my head. Hopefully see you around soon. X
  17. kate Grant
    Thanks. I am sort of trying that approach but seem neither enthusiastic or knowledgeable enough to ‘ace’ the website thing. It feels like there’s so much about algorithms etc I don’t understand and help is expensive - i’ve Paid for some but it made no difference. Perhaps I should have stayed up to date when I was in Hebden instead of reading novels all day.
  18. kate Grant
    Muchos Gracias, Kitty. Xx
  19. kate Grant
    Thanks Kelly. Blushing a bit but it does suit my nature to be around other people and I miss the affirmation, as much as the extra custom, from being in the middle of things. If only being genial paid the bills. X
  20. kate Grant
    Morning Lucy, what a lovely start to my week. Thank you. I'm well overdue to write an update blog but I'm still exploring so many possibilities that I'm not sure it would be coherent. And don't get me started on the state of the country - what a balls up - sorry to hear your salary is suffering. See you soon. Much love. You have a great aura (ha ha) too and so does Spike. xxxx

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