Well, if there’s one bit of truth to share with you opening our third store was not done on a whim!
Whilst we sat thinking, discussing and searching, 2 years would pass us by until we met outside what would be our new shop on Park View in Whitley Bay.
Rod, the estate agent arrived only marginally late. This lapse of time allowed us to briefly browse up and down the hustle and bustle of a busy street, as well as allowing a hand full of shop owners to take note of the group of strangers congregated next to the bench situated outside of the shop.
As we glanced over at the store, we noticed the windows were largely empty, with only the last few pieces of jewellery hanging on the display pads. The green awning was faded and frayed and where there were once lights bearing over the shop front there were now only the fittings remaining: the store was nearing the final days of trading.
Upon the visit we learnt the building had actually been home to a jeweller for the last 53 years. To know we could be extending that legacy made the opportunity feel even more special for us and so we all headed in to take a look around.
After the viewing we didn't waste any more time and decided to embark on the opening of our third store at 131 Park View. Some weeks later and after all the legals, it was on Thursday 9th June that we had the keys in our hand and went for a quick celebratory pint at Fox & Finch.
Now it’s worth mentioning at this point that we had little plan to go off for the new store. Mark, our jeweller, had put his drawing skills to work and we had a rough ‘diagram’ to go off. As well as the internal diagram, Mark had sketched ideas for the fascia too and that’s all we had.
We also had little to no project plan or tradespeople lined up to help but we started anyway and Matt organised things as he progressed, from sourcing glass for the windows down to buying the reclaimed brass door handles off eBay.
It wasn’t initially obvious that every wall panel, wire, and screw would need replaced and the shop taken back to bare brick. This realisation swiftly fell on Matt and his partner in crime - Andy (a joiner of 35 years) on day 1 of the build and so the hard work began from the very start.
Around halfway through the build Matt called on David Potts another joiner to give him a hand on a small job. Little did David realise but he was to be the third and final member of the trio and, like Matt and Andy, he’d actually be working on the shop until the very end.
None of them knew but they’d complete the renovation with no toilet or running water for majority of the time, so they were all eternally grateful to Lisa and Louise at Hotpotz for opening their door to three strangers.
The stripping out of all the fixtures and fittings was difficult but looking back was over relatively quickly. Everything remaining was thrown into several skips and before we knew it the shop was an empty shell. This shell took around 4 months to rebuild.
The building offered up some interesting finds during this time – old pennies, skeletons of dead things, lead glass panels and original wood columns to mention a few.
The wooden columns were a decorative column that ran vertically on the outside of the shop. They were beautiful and all original but unfortunately had succumb to rot and water damage over a number of years exposure to the elements. At one point we contemplated restoring them, but they fell to pieces when we removed them and so with deep sorrow, they too like many other things met their fate in the skip!
It appeared during the lifetime of the shop that any new fascia was simply built over the last, so after peeling back the third shop front we uncovered original lead glass. This, like the wood columns was in a sorry state but we managed to work with it and incorporated it into the new shop front.
The build came with other challenges too.
Notably, I recall the day the windows turned up and 5 of us had to move huge panes of glass each weighing about 30 stone with nothing but some gloves. Realising we we were underequipped, the driver even took pity and helped us!
We had a few wrong measurements, a few wrong pots of paint, I may have sanded 4 grooves in the brand new flooring the day after it was laid (they’re still there); I blame the faulty hand sander.
There was casualties too: bruised finger nails, cuts and Matt took the brunt of a stray piece of metal falling on to a table saw which saw shards of metal get stuck in his face and no he didn’t have eye protection.
Nevertheless everyone was alive at the end of the build and nobody had lost any limbs so by that measure it was a success. The store opened 29th November and we’ve never been more thrilled with the result.
With thanks to...
We called on so many fantastic businesses to help us complete the build and every one of them comes with our recommendation:
David Potts – Joiner
Andy Flatman – Joiner (Shavings and Splinters, Ellington)
Linesbehind - Graphic Design/Window Artwork
John Walker, Newbiggin-By-The-Sea – Painter
Instinctive Flooring, Whitley Bay - Flooring
Specialist Glass Products, Huddersfield – Glass
Ashington Timber, Ashington – Cabinets
NFS, Tyne & Wear – Electrics and Fire Alarms
Allan Surrey – Plasterer
Logotech, Cramlington – Signage
ACMS, Whitley Bay – Air Conditioning
Bradleys, Blyth – Safe Moving
Key Plastics, Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate – Metal Sheet
Pattison Ryan, Wallsend – Metal Work
Emily – Tile & Wear - Tiler
Barker & Stonehouse, Newcastle - Furnishings
John Lewis, Newcastle – Furnishings
Behalla, Whitley Bay – Furnishings
Vertex Finishing, Ashington – French Polishing
Design Xpress, Durham – Vinyl
Thank you all for your help and to all the local businesses that supported us and continue to do so.