It was such a regret that after the first Coronavirus lockdown in 2020 we were unable to reopen our gorgeous countryside FTLOTN shop in Corbridge.
Both of us love Corbridge. It’s always been one of a favourite places to enjoy a day out and indeed our very first blog post was about the village. It’s a very special village in such beautiful surroundings. It has a wonderful array of vibrant independent businesses and we would never have dreamt a few years ago that we would be joining these fabulous independents.
It’s safe to say with our journey so far that various curve balls come into the mix. Back in 2017 that year was supposed to be about establishing the website and then the property that would become our lovely little shop in the heart of Whitley Bay town centre became available. 2018 we heard about a new venture opening in Newcastle City Centre and so our pop-up shop in the city was born. And then in 2019, Corbridge. The shop was, up until the spring of this year, the beloved sweet shop Scrumptious. Indeed we had frequented it on a fair few occasions for Lucy to stock up on Sour Plooms and Paul Liquorice Pipes.
One Saturday in late winter Lucy was taking a flight of fancy online along the Tyne Valley to peruse shop premises. And there she saw it! Scrumptious was up for rent. Lucy knew just how perfect a premises is was for us and in such a lovely spot. She immediately pinged the details to Paul who almost fell off his chair. Another shop was not in the mix for 2019 but as we said before things don’t quite work to a plan. After settling himself back down Paul smiled and knew like Lucy this was the most wonderful opportunity. That’s one of the wonderful things about us working together, we both instinctively know when something is right and we certainly felt that here.
So emails were duly sent and due to commitments we were unable to get along to view the shop ourselves in the It didn’t matter though, we knew it was perfect for FTLOTN. We met with Frances who owned Scrumptious and it was wonderfully reassuring how happy she was that we were taking on the shop and bringing the business to Corbridge.
Just the small matter now of transforming the shop into FTLOTN. Like the work we stock in the shop we work with artists and creatives we love and that applies to the look and identity of our shops. We were absolutely blessed and bowled over to have Julie Chambers Interior Designs to design the fit out of our new shop. Julie is in such demand and a real class act with the most amazing portfolio of interiors to her name. Julie was a joy to work with from the outset and together we brought about how FTLOTN Corbridge would look and feel. We very much wanted it to be us but also very in-keeping with the history and heritage of Corbridge.
The shop has a great history to it dating back to the 19th Century. It has been a hat shop, butchers, bank and of course a fine purveyor of sweet treats in its life time. Indeed from the fit out of the shop it’s history as a butchers was revealed by two inclines on the newly disclosed original floor boards. These are a legacy from where the butchers counter once stood and where the customers would have queued for their meat. It’s just the sort of historical quirk we love and all adds to the character of the shop.
We take our hats off Julie and Paul (not our Paul!!), who carried out the fitting out, as in just over a week the shop was totally transformed to its new incarnation. We couldn’t have been happier with how it looked, it felt so us. Julie had sourced an amazing vintage glass shop counter complete with draws. For Paul it fulfilled a life times ambition to stand behind the counter and pretend he was working on the floor at Grace Brothers department store.
With a day to go before we opened the door we called in the troops and Lucy’s parents helped us fill up the shop and label the stock. We even had an extra special helper with our nephew Jack who came along to assist the final touches. On late May bank holiday Monday we declared FTLOTN Corbridge open and can honestly say that we were bowled over by the warm welcome we have been given from residents of Corbridge and the wonderful businesses in the village. We could not have asked for a more lovely welcome.
Just like the Whitley Bay shop Corbridge offers a gallery wall space and we were so happy that Cramlington based artist Ali Elly agreed to be our first North East artist exhibiting. Ali had previously exhibited in the Whitley Bay shop and like there she filled the new gallery wall space with an outstanding array of original work. Ali loves painting fish and shells and it’s just wonderful. With us being a bit more in land she has introduced bees to the mix and happy to say the work has been as lapped up in Corbridge as it was in Whitley Bay.
There were still touches to be done however. Hilary who is our amazing display expert made a trip out to a Corbridge to work her magic. She never disappoints and festooned our window with a glorious display of floral colour with the centre piece of a very big “Hello” to the village, it tied in perfectly with Corbridge’s stupendous “In Bloom” Festival at St Andrews Church just opposite the church.
There was also the minor detail that we had no shop sign and there was only person we had in place to put that right, the fabulously talented songwriter Ash Willerton. If you have followed our journey you will know that Ash designed and painted the signs for our Whitley Bay shop and shipping container within STACK Newcastle. It was a no brainer we would ask him to do the Corbridge sign. And for Ash he was going to be working right next to our new neighbours at the fabulous Forum Books where Ash had previously painted their amazing “Read On” sign.
Like the fitting out it was lovely to see people so interested in what Ash was doing. It’s a joy to see such a creative at work and we couldn’t be more over the moon with our Corbridge shop sign and we felt so so proud and happy that our new shop had come together with the help of wonderful North East Creatives.
Our sign was ready just in time for Corbridge’s Midsummer event where the village is abound with street entertainment, food stalls, music and dancing. It was such a lovely evening on Midsummers Eve and fabulous to be part of the event. Paul has almost signed up to join the Morris Dancers. Corbridge has a fabulous year round programme of events and a lovely community feel.
It was such a regret that after the first Coronavirus lockdown in 2020 we were unable to reopen our gorgeous countryside FTLOTN shop in Corbridge. It will forever be part of our journey and have such a special part in our hearts.