The birth of a truly gifted family-owned business
A mother looking for a new lease of life after being made redundant and a daughter seeking new challenges decided to take the plunge and go into business together.
Having never been to Garstang before, Tracie Harrington and her daughter Kerry decided to buy The giftshop in Thomas’s Weind last February.
Grandmother-of-four Tracie, 55, says: “After looking around for several months, we stumbled upon Garstang and fell in love with this lovely market town. In the Weind there is a good selection of shops and cafes.
“Although we are only a few steps from the high street, it feels like we are in our own little village. We have a lot to offer and we are a really friendly bunch with a great community spirit.
“It is very important small independent shops stand out from multi-national organisations. We need to be different, so selling that special item will help us survive and flourish.
“Our local customers are very loyal and hopefully come back to shop with us because of the personal service and value they get.
“We pride ourselves on selling beautiful, unique, but most of all, affordable gifts and homewares.
“I spend time sourcing the goods we sell and I am always on the lookout for unique gifts and homewares and stock a huge range of gifts for the home, ladies, mens and children.
“I try to buy Lancashire-made products whenever possible which includes chocolates from Beech’s at Preston and Mr Fitzpatrick’s cordials from Haslingden.
“Sometimes I have to go further a field, with gorgeous handmade scented soy candles from a small family concern in Carlisle Mils & Boo and soaps from The Soap Company in Keswick, which is a business who employs disabled and disadvantaged people in the town.”
The shop also has several guest artists who showcase their work, which includes paintings; jewellery from Shipwreck Bay; bowls, clocks and cake stands from Vintage Vinyls; hand-made models from local model maker Dave Bray; hand-made collectable miniature teddies by Artist Bears and crochet soft toys by Gwynneth.
Kerry, a mother-of-two, also has her work displayed in the shop, as she decorates mirrors and vases, and they can also be found in small independent shops around Lancashire and even Southern Ireland.
The 36-year-old recalls one unique request: “I was asked to decorate a large mirror with two parrots on for the local postman. I asked him to send a photo of them to get the colours right but was stunned when 15 minutes later he walked in the shop with one of his parrots on his arm.”
The giftshop at Garstang also has its own range of T-shirts for men women and children and a selection of hand-made jewellery.
Over the last year the shop has supported many charity events, donating mirrors and vases to help raise money.
Tracie and Kerry are currently donating a percentage of sales from mirrors with a boat design going to Owd Lanky Boater, which raises money to do restoration work along the Lancaster Canal.
This is Tracie and Kerry’s first business together and they admit it has been a very steep learning curve and hard work.
Added to all the stresses of starting a new business, Kerry found out she was pregnant just after the shop was opened and Ruby May was born on Halloween.
But after a busy first year, the pair have finally settled into their new roles.
Tracie, who spent 12 years working at Blackburn Council, adds: “Most of the last year has been a bit of a blur as I was unexpectedly working six days in the shop rather than my planned three for the last seven months but it has been the most enjoyable and rewarding experience.
“Kerry now has a sister for her son Connor and my son Leigh and his partner had a baby girl to add to their family in January this year.”