We spoke with the wonderful team from Rhubarb, who are our Stockist of the Month for October, to talk all about their lovely shop which is situated in the beautiful harbour town of Kirkcudbright on the South West coast of Scotland!
Tell us a little bit about your shop Rhubarb…
We are a small independent home and gift shop located in the beautiful harbour town of Kirkcudbright on the South West coast of Scotland. We're a mother and daughter combination who started our business about twelve years ago in a tiny shop in the historic high street, over time we have grown into a much larger space (formerly a car showroom) in the centre of town - we've been in this new space for around five years and absolutely love it!
We stock a small range of ladies clothes and accessories, homeware and gifts along with a very busy baby and children's section, plus all the finishing touches like wrap, cards and ribbons.
Kirkcudbright is a brilliant town to live and work in, it is lucky to have an extremely large and dedicated team of volunteers who put on events throughout the year. These attract locals and visitors alike and help enormously to keep the town vibrant and relevant, anything from an arts & crafts festival, eight weeks of daily events throughout July and August, Childrens festival, food festival, light festival, kite festival - if there is a festival to be had, it'll happen in Kirkcudbright. We really like to help and support these events.
Our customers also embrace our other events such as our Koala fundraiser in January following the devastating fires in Australia and we were able to send over £800 to support charities that were helping to save these little creatures.
What inspired the name Rhubarb?
We were looking for premises to open our first shop and were offered a small shop in the historic part of town. The shop had formerly been a ladies clothes and accessories shop called 'Rhubarb' - we liked the name and decided to keep it!
What three words would you use to describe your shop?
Simple, inspiring, fun.
What do you love about being a shopkeeper?
I think we both love serving our customers, many who have become friends, we laugh a lot in our shop! Also preparing for each new season, planning and researching new products, and travelling to trade shows to find new things we know our customers will love.
Have you ever had any famous faces pop in?
Famous faces that have popped in include Martin Shaw (we were all a tiny bit excited to see him!) Jane Cox (Lisa Dingle from Emmerdale) Lizzie Yarnold (Olympic gold medal Skeleton) and Prue Leith have all been in. Along with Gary Lewis, who lives in town - he pops up in a huge variety of TV and film work but is best known for being Billy Elliot's dad.
When you first heard the news about being able to re-open since lockdown, what were you most excited about?
During lockdown we restarted our website and began delivering for free locally as we felt it important to stay in touch with our customers. They responded brilliantly, and so I was delivering safely, daily all over the town, we wrapped and posted parcels on their behalf, especially for those that needed to shield. We are so grateful for that support.
Reopening the shop was brilliant as we were able to catch up properly (socially distanced obviously!) compare our lockdown experiences which were very similar, and get on with the new normal. Our customers have remained very supportive, and I think appreciated our view that although things were difficult, we still needed to celebrate birthdays, new arrivals and all the other little things to help keep us positive.
What first attracted you to Sophie Allport Products?
We often use Sophie Allport products as a starting point for a theme or scheme within our shop, whether with colour or pattern and work to dovetail other suppliers in with it. It always works a treat.
We also like the constant 'newness' that comes through - it helps to keep things moving along and fresh for our regulars.
Your favourite Sophie Allport collection?
Our favourites are the Bee and the Cow design, which happily features a belted Galloway cow which is local to our area... you can imagine how well that has sold! Our new favourite is the Duck design.
Your favourite time of year in the shop?
Our favourite time of the year is Christmas, for many reasons but mainly because we have large windows and can fit a snow machine into one of them. We are known for our festive windows and like to create magical winter scapes with the snow gently falling and drifting beneath. The local playschool brings their children round to view them, which is lovely.
Usually, we also do a Christmas launch, all our staff are keen bakers so a table groaning with homemade treats and a large pan of mulled wine is on the stove while our customers' shop. Over the years it has turned into a big social event, we see it as a thank you to our customers for their support over the year and an excuse to get our baking books out!
Your favourite moment in the shop?
Our favourite moment in the shop is the eve of our Christmas event when everything is prepared, the shop is packed with lots of lovely things, and the lights are soft and twinkly all ready for the next morning. The quiet before the storm!
Finally, where can people find your lovely shop?
You can find us at: 25 St Mary Street, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries & Galloway, DG6 4AA