Cath, the shop owner, came up with the idea for opening her shop a number of years ago. She had worked in the retail industry and knew British-made was the way to go.
Cath lives in Yorkshire with her husband and 2 cats. She has both an online store and a physical shop, in the beautiful market town of Thirsk (James Herriot country).
Hello everyone. I am based in a small grade 2 listed building in the friendly town of Thirsk. I sell a gorgeous mixture of gifts, all with an animal or countryside theme.
All my items are made by either individual makers or small companies. I like to support such people as their work is often rarely seen in high street shops and I feel their talent should be more widely recognised and available.
With all my gifts, I look for ones that are made, as much as possible, within the UK. For example, I look for ones where the main component is created in Britain, such as the pottery being made in Stoke on Trent, rather than simply finished off in this country. My ranges include Beefayre, Scottish Fine Soaps toiletries, Edge Sculptures, a variety of gifts from Perkins & Morley, Dimbleby Ceramics, Louise Jennifer Designs and Ladycrow Silks pewter jewellery.
I worked for some years in garden centres and became tired of seeing so many mass-produced items arrive by the pallet load from 2 or 3 major companies. When I visited other gift shops, I could instantly recognise other gifts from these same companies. Very few shops had any individuality, in terms of what they sold. I decided that it was worth exploring the huge range of talented creators within Britain & open a shop that would showcase such gifts.
As for the name, my maiden name is Fox & I wanted that reflected in the name, which was easy being a seller of animal inspired gifts. I added dale to the word vixen to reflect the countryside element of the giftware, which made sense, being located close to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.
Once I had graduated from agricultural college my first job was selling houseplants in a garden centre in London. I then moved to another garden centre, working in the gift department, becoming Gift Department manager fairly quickly in the main flagship store of a group of independent centres. I left there to move north to Yorkshire with my husband & haven’t looked back.
So many shops have little individuality & buy their ranges from a limited number of international companies. When I started looking, I soon found a huge wealth of talent within Britain and wanted to support these creative people. It also makes sense to buy as locally as possible and support our UK economy, as well as minimising travelling expenses and pollution.
When I’m in the shop I am always busy finding out about new products and new creators I haven’t come across, which I could stock in the future. I like to refresh my displays regularly and update my window display at least every 2 weeks. There is always paperwork to do, as well as cleaning, tidying & restocking. The most interesting part is chatting to customers and helping them to choose something either for themselves or as a gift.
I’m always looking at products in other shops and turning them over to see who made them. I also subscribe to some trade magazines which keeps me updated on the latest products. Often these are mass-produced items so are of little interest, but occasionally I find something I will research some more to see if it would complement other ranges that I stock.
I particularly love the work of Yorkshire wildlife artist Robert Fuller and have a number of his gifts, including worktop savers and tea towels. The latter are especially popular with customers, as are the range of toiletries from Beefayre. I chose to stock the Beefayre range for a number of reasons; they give a percentage of their profits to bee conservation, their products are natural and cruelty-free, as well as being very effective and the packaging is so beautiful.
Currently, due to the coronavirus pandemic, our bricks & mortar shop is closed, but we are hoping it won’t be long before we are back in Thirsk, serving people in person. For now, we can be found solely online at www.vixendalegifts.co.uk. We will always provide you with top quality gifts for every budget, everything will be as British as it can be and you will be certain to find lots of unusual gifts in our store, whether online or in person.
The best thing about running Vixendale Gifts is when I get lovely feedback from customers and they become regular shoppers in the store. The proudest moment was hearing that I’d been nominated in the Yorkshire Choice Awards for Independent Business of the Year 2020.The awards ceremony was put on hold due to the coronavirus, so I’ve still got my fingers crossed!
I have really enjoyed Cath’s Vixendale Gifts story. Cath is finding new lovely products all the time and always on the look out for more British designers and manufacturers. It is so wonderful to see her curated, ever evolving range.
I hope you have been inspired by this Behind the Scenes post looking into one of Our Shops. You can find more Our Shops stories here.
Until next time, happy browsing and inspired shopping. 🙂
All opinions in this blog post are mine and Cath’s. Vixendale Gifts is a member of my shopping directory.Tags: Gift Shops, Independent Shops Online, Shops Behind the Scenes