High street verse online shopping and the search continues

Make at 140 inside

I returned from a holiday on Tuesday to my fabulous shop, we weren’t open so I caught up on paperwork and emails etc. I have been on quite an interesting journey since then chatting to customers about moving and everything that goes with it, so I thought I would give you a little update.

If you didn’t know, we are due to leave 140 Vauxhall St in Sept and move to a new premise, people keep asking “Where are you going?” “Go on tell us the secret where are you moving?” and totally honestly every time I have to say
“There’s no secret we don’t know!”

I decide to leave 140 to go bigger better, If I had stayed I would have to sign up for another 3 years here and that just wasn’t possible financially, we needed to go bigger to make this work.

So there is my challenge, I would like a premises that is bigger and cheaper! HA! I hear you say, well yes exactly, that is not easy in Plymouth.

House of Fraser today announced the closure of 31 of it’s stores, one of them being Plymouth. I read the Facebook comments etc about why, and what would happen etc but it just comes down to the internet verse high street!

This news sparkled off quite a few chats with customers today about what is going to happen and what will happen in Plymouth, with our high street as we know it and really there is no answer.
Small and big businesses these days just can not afford the high street rent and rates!

We, I believe are coming back around to wanting to support our local independent businesses, our local high street but I do think that the way we live now doesn’t support this unless independent/high street businesses move with the times and accommodate how we live these days.

I would really like to buy from the local fruit and veg man, the local butcher and obviously the local baker but most of the time I am unable to do so because of convenience. We used to live in households where there was one person maybe who didn’t work, they could shop during the day, but that isn’t the case anymore we need to shop when we finish work.

Bring on the food market that stays open until 8 pm and has free parking!

This won’t happen, I am tempted to change my times of opening to suit so I could say open at midday and close at 9pm every day, would that work? It’s a risk is it worth it? I do stay open until 9pm on a Wednesday and that is a good day so just maybe!

Make at night

So coming back to what I am saying, we as independent businesses need to move with the times, adapt our businesses all the time to suit the consumer, but there is the problem, the cost!

Looking for a new premise is proving difficult. The size I would need and the parking I would need is an issue, I actually have one that I have a planning application in with the council for but they keep throwing curve balls at me to make it difficult, the latest now being parking! Do they really want businesses in Plymouth to succeed?

It’s a bit of a battle to be honest, we want to continue but with the change in times, in retail, in the way we all shop, is it all worth it!


  • Tracey Smith

    I agree that trends are changing and we are beginning to move away from chain stores and shop local, shop opening times is an issue, for example my local butcher shuts at 4.30pm and to get there in time after work is problematic. Most families need both parents to work to maintain a good standard of living. We are so used to 24 hour shopping we need to be re educated.
    The council need to open their eyes and look to the future otherwise we will lose our local shops, In my opinion Plymouth has experienced a decline since the mall was built, which is what the locals said would happen.
    I truly hope you stay in business and find new premises which can accommodate you; your location at present does attract passing trade too so I can only imagine how difficult it will be
    I have attended a couple of your workshops as a budding dressmaker and buy supplies too. Your material range is brilliant – unusual prints and affordable prices.

    Good luck with your next venture

  • Kate Carter

    If you need support with the Council surely we could all write to the council supporting you and what you are trying to do. Have you spoken to your MP. Invite your MP to Make along with your supporters to discuss situation. Perhaps the Council should make House of Fraser a craft center where local talent can be helped ! Just a thought. You surely could find enough room there for cafe and workshop. The council could give it for a peppercorn rent rather than leave it empty……..

  • Jan brewerton

    Yes it is worth it! You’ve done an amazing thing at Make and Plymouth needs you to continue!

  • Deborah Turner

    Hi Lizzie, I was both sad and happy reading your blog. I have been to various workshops since you opened. I think your message hit’s several spots.
    Your business is unique. There are other habidashery shops in plymouth but none quite like make at 140. It feels like coming home when you come inside it is so welcoming. I came down a couple of weeks ago just after lunch and had a coffee and muffin and then started to knit a jacket for my granddaughter. There was also someone else making silver jewellery at another table. The sun was shining in and it was so peaceful. I stayed about 45 mins and it was just what I needed in my very busy life. I will be sorry to see you leave your current premises but hope that you open bigger premises so that your business can expand and grow.
    Mine is just a simple wish, all you followers out there make an effort to visit the shop and buy just 1 thing. Yes you can get it cheaper on the Internet but if you don’t do this you will only have yourselves to blame if the business folds. Please don’t let this wonderful space go. You can’t buy the atmosphere or the fabric of the shop on the Internet. This can only be breathed in if you visit the shop. Let your busy fingers make something beautiful and unique, rather than be busy on the keyboard ordering things on the Internet. The computers will be the demise of the high street. Visit the shop and do your best to support lizzie. We voted her the best in plymouth now let’s join toget her and fight for the survival of the shop

  • Viv Grenney

    I agree with you about Plymouth council. Most of the problems are because of business rates. Surely if the council reduced them & offered free parking it would keep the centre open. Closing shops brings no revenue in at all & we end up with a ghost town….looking forward to hearing when you find your new premises & keep up with the great workshops you run! P.s. let me know when the next coco one is planned for after June please.

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