This time last year I was in a wild panic. I had spent weeks cleaning up a filthy shop unit, lined up dozens of artists and craftspeople to sell their work in the shop and advertised the opening of the Chorlton Art Market Hub for Saturday 1st November…but I hadn’t even actually signed the lease. I didn’t even know for certain if I was going to get the shop at all and, as it turned out, I only managed to get everything sorted the day before we opened. It was all pretty nail biting stuff.
When all this was happening, if someone had told me that the shop would still be open a whole year later I don’t think I could have believed it. It was of course what I wanted to happen, but it seemed like such a hard to reach dream, especially after all the hurdles I had faced just to get to that point.
The initial plan was to open the shop for a couple of months, just to have a share of the Christmas madness. I signed up local traders on a week-by-week basis, many of whom who had sold at my other CAM events and I trawled charity shops and skips for temporary shop fittings to display their work. Other than a tiny bit of money I had saved from running the market for the 12 months prior to opening the shop, I had virtually no money so everything had to be done on the cheap – contrary to what some people thought, I received no grants or loans to get the shop running.
It has been a very eventful and interesting past 12 months, with the shop continuing to evolve every day. Our goals have not changed since the initial concept – we still strive to promote and sell local people’s work and we are still very proud to be a permanent fixture in Chorlton precinct (it continues to amaze us when customers tell us that they never used to come into the precinct before we opened – something we still hear at least once a week).
As we approach our second Christmas season we hope that people will remember to Shop Local – by buying from local independent businesses you are putting that money directly back into the local economy. There are dozens of other economic and environmental reasons to shopping local, especially during the busiest time of the year. Nevermind Keeping it Chorlton – we say Keep it Precinct! Get your veg from Elliotts, your meat from Frosts, your Boxing Day mint Vienetta from Cool Trader and all your gifts from the CAMhub. Job done.
Jay and I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our wonderful traders, especially those of you who have been with us since we opened, and also huge thanks to every single one of our customers for supporting the shop – your positive comments and continued custom gives us the drive to overcome the difficult patches. Please come and visit us this Saturday for a Bucks Fizz and raise a toast to our first year of being a real shop and get your Christmas shopping started!