The Little House Shop story all started back in 2007 when we made the big decision to open a shop called 'House Interiors and Gifts' in the historic market town of Knutsford, Cheshire selling home accessories, kitchenware and gifts. My wife Jenny had worked in retail and homeware for a few years which certainly helped but our main intention was to sell stylish, timeless and practical products suitable for everyone's budget. It was hard work (especially at the very start) as we fitted the shop out ourselves with help from family, most of that credit going to my dad who laid the flooring and built all the shelving units! Business was generally good and we survived the 2008 recession which was an achievement in itself! I sensibly carried on with my day job as a graphic designer so we at least had one regular income. There were many late nights every month, stocking the shelves and creating the window displays, even taking our sleeping bags one night so we didn't have to drive back home as we were living 12 miles away with my parents at the time to save money!
By 2012 we'd already moved to Knutsford and renting a little cottage which made life much easier as Jenny could walk to the shop. We'd had a good Christmas and life was almost perfect when we received a call from a friend on New Year's Day morning to say the shop was on fire! When we arrived we were told by the fireman it had been caused by a faulty air conditioning unit (that we never even used) and to our horror all our stock was destroyed. The inside was a complete mess. Nothing was salvageable. All that hard work was gone! We were devastated and couldn't believe this had happened to us and it took a lot of strength to carry on but we managed to get the shop up and running again a couple of months later, determined to make it even better. Things were indeed better thankfully and we enjoyed another good year but our lease was coming to an end and we simply couldn't commit to another 7 years as the overheads were so high and we wanted to buy a house and start a family, all of which weren't really possible if we carried on.
During the last year of us being in the shop, we welcomed a boxer/labrador puppy into our lives called Hugo, who was quickly outgrowing the space behind the counter! At the same time our website started to take off so we made another big decision, to close and concentrate solely on the online side of things. It was sad as we felt as though we'd let down our loyal customers that had shopped with us from day one but it was also quite liberating as we no longer had expensive rent or bills to pay and had finally paid off the original business loan so we didn't owe anybody anything. We changed our name to 'The Little House Shop' which was quite fitting as we decided to run the entire operation from our home. The problem then was where to put all the stock! We initially had it all stacked in our utility room which doubled up as the packing area, but that soon spilled out into the kitchen especially in the run up to Christmas. We enlisted the help of our friend Jen along with some (free) help from our mothers!
By 2017 we'd bought our first house but it still wasn't big enough to run the business from. We had stock hidden everywhere including the loft where Jenny would make frequent visits up the ladder during the day, even when she was heavily pregnant with our first child Henry! This was when we decided enough was enough and the only solution was to use a fulfilment company down in Wiltshire as there was no way we could expect Jenny to carry on packing as well as managing the admin side of things once Henry arrived. The downside of having your own business is the lack of (well there's none really) maternity leave and I always remember Jenny on the phone to a customer apologising for the delayed response as she'd just had a baby and the customer saying 'oh lovely, when was he born?' and Jenny replying 'oh, yesterday'. The customer was quite shocked to say the least!
Two years with the fulfilment company took its toll and all our profit was swallowed up with their costs but at the time we really had no choice. We also felt completely disconnected as we couldn't see or feel the stock we were selling. By this time Henry had started nursery which freed up 3 days a week so we again made the big decision to move the stock back up north to a unit we found close to Knutsford, in the village of Marthall. It was actually on a farm and the building used to be the old dairy house. We fell in love with it straight away, quickly decorating and installing new shelving (dad was roped into building that again) and packing benches. Borrowing a long wheel base van from a friend, I drove down early one Saturday morning to Wiltshire to reclaim our beloved stock and bring it back to its new home on the farm!
Now it's 2021 and having got through the worst of the pandemic (hopefully) we're now in our third year at the farm and couldn't be happier. Our good friend Jen is back again, packing all your lovely orders and (just because we like a challenge) we also have two new additions to the family, twins Alex and George who were born in March! We're busier than ever which means I'm now fully involved in the business and we're looking forward to what the future has in store. We hope our story has given you a little insight into who we are and where we came from. We thank you for supporting us and promise to continue stocking products which make everyday life that little bit better! None of this would be possible without our loyal customers and we never take that for granted.
Thank you again and happy shopping!