Playing shops was an ideal game when you were younger, don’t you go pretending you never played shops whether female or male. That ideal that you could sell whatever you want, whether it was from handmade items to those cuddly toys that always found their way back to your room. One lady who pushed this is Victoria; the proud owner of the rather lovely shop situated in Winchester called The Hambledon. The bustling streets of Winchestarians surround this location, prime really because as soon as you look across the road you see the stunner that is Winchester Cathedral. What an amazing view. With her passion to create and sell what she loves the most is clear as soon as you step through the door, from quirky stationary to vintage house items.
Let’s have a natter to Victoria to find out a little more about The Hambledon and how the online presence is growing with success upon success.
Nicola Manuel: Hello! What a lovely, lovely shop you have and in a perfect location in Winchester. You are known for your amazing selection of home objects from posters to children’s toys, but what is it you want to be well known for?
Victoria: For exactly that! For having a lovely, lovely shop. And for people to know that we love having a shop. Shop keeping is great.
NM: Describe your shop in three words.
V: Aside from lovely, which we’ve probably used enough by now. Inspiring, friendly, beautiful
NM: Tell us one fact about The Hambledon that people may not know.
V: It was a tavern called The Sun in the 18th century, which closed down when The Eclipse opened.
NM: You keep a high social status through your online website and twitter page. How important is social media to you and your success as a shop?
V: It’s pretty important. But everything’s important! The new website has been a real departure for us and we’re just trying to find all sorts of different ways of getting the word out about the shop. Twitter and Facebook are part of that but so are blogs, traditional print media and word of mouth.
NM: There are a few Hambledon shops located around England, with myself only having visited and found out about the shop having studied in Winchester. What are the perks about being located here?
V: There’s only one The Hambledon. We are the one and only (my mum has a shop in Dorset called The Hambledon Gallery but that’s a different business). I really love Winchester and I always wanted to live and work in the same place. It’s nice to feel like an old fashioned shopkeeper with roots in a community.
NM: You have a strong connection with your designers. How do you go about getting in contact for new designs in your shop and what is it you really look for?
V: Well, we’re very opinionated and very proud so we’re always looking for things we really love and things that are relatively undiscovered.
NM: Most of your designers are all freelance, a world that really pushes someone’s self-motivation. If a freelance wanted to design for the Hambledon what would you want to see within their work and style?
V: It’s true that some are freelance, maybe working on contracts for bigger companies. But many of our designers have set up their own business and work full time on their own product ranges. For me freelance suggests commissioning designers who are guns for hire. And actually we very, very rarely commission. In terms of what we’re looking for, we never know until we see it. Something Hambledon (and that’s an adjective that’s quite hard to define!)
NM: What has been your most successful decision to the shop to date?
V: We like to have some nice new project or refurb every year. And so far they’ve all been pretty successful. The menswear move into the basement has been great. The stationery department took a while to get going but is now brilliant. And the project space is a lot of fun to work on. But overall my best decision has been the people I work with who are undoubtedly the nicest bunch of shop girls and boys I could have hoped for.
NM: Are there any exciting plans to venture further with the Hambledon for the future to give it a wider audience?
V: The website is our venture into the wider world and we’re pretty excited by that project. But The Hambledon, as I see it, is a one-site shop. I want to spend my time in one place with staff and customers and product I know. I’m not really a numbers person and once retail starts to scale up it’s not so much about the things. And I’m all about the things.
If I were to say a word (following), you’d say…
Freelance…Pale blue leather lace up shoes I bought as a teenager
The Hambledon…Home from home
So if you’re in Winchester for the day, a resident or studying then go have a look! You’ll be sure to find a little something for someone suited in there whether it’s a family member, friend or a special someone. With the C word creeping up round the corner it really is quite a unique place to get gifts. Especially because it really is one of a kind.