Open a boutique for eyewear that only offers the very best niche product with service and surroundings to match.
Its just short of 7 months now that we’ve had Bottomleys Eyewear Boutique in RE6 at the beautiful Piece Hall just a hop skip down from Bottomley Opticians in The Old Town Hall on Union Street in Halifax. As soon as things started happening and noises could be heard about it finally reopening I tried to find out who it was that I needed to talk to about taking a unit but it was tough. I went to the office and stated our intentions and was given an application form which I filled in and got it straight back to the good people who told me they would be in touch.
I waited…. hoping that the idea had impressed them enough to get things moving for us.
About six weeks later I went back to the office and asked if they had given my application any thought and welcomed their feedback. I was greeted with another friendly face but no knowledge of anything to do with my previous visit or application. I was handed an application form… the exact same one as I had filled in before. I thanked them, dutifully filled it in again and returned it the next day. They seemed to like the idea and told me I would hear from them. I felt like something was definitely going to happen now and I figured that writing it out twice was a good thing in cementing in my own head the objectives and goals we’d set ourselves as a company.
I heard nothing. Again I went to the office after about 8 weeks and I was told that I must now submit my application online and was given a website to go on. I did this and received an equally taciturn response. Another couple of months passed and I was feeling that for whatever reason … it just wasn’t to be and that the Piece Hall didn’t want an eyewear boutique in one of its available units. After all …. what is an eyewear boutique anyway? Have you ever seen one? have you ever been to one? How does it work? What happens? If I was to answer these questions I would struggle. I’ve never been to any eyewear boutique (I’ve heard of one or two that exist in the country I think)
If I’m honest, it was an idea from the desire to get involved with really special designers and manufacturers and offer some of the amazing finds of extra special glasses from our trips to the big eyewear shows we attend in Milan and Paris. Everyone who is anyone in our industry the world over, turns up at these events and that is where to find the very best.
Well… it was still just an idea with nowhere to go.
Things got busy and we were planning our next trip to a show. We had to buy stock for Halifax and Lindley and the idea had to take a back seat for a while. It was a while later when I was out for lunch with a friend who brought up the idea in conversation and suggested I’d got nothing to lose by once again knocking on the office door in the Piece Hall. As we were close by we wandered up to the top floor and knocked on the door once more.
It was like something magical had happened!
We were greeted by a different guy who was really helpful and friendly. He thought it was a great idea and took us to see a few of the units. He told us about how things would be and told me how to apply and gave me a business plan to fill in. It all felt completely different in a really good way. It felt like there was a chance this could actually happen!
I had an idea of what I wanted it to look and feel like. Quirky pieces of furniture that we could use to house and display our creme de la creme collections in a classy but informal setting. I really didn’t want it to feel like an opticians. I started looking for ideas and different ways of displaying spectacles in the windows.
We quickly purchased the pieces of furniture and as it happened I was moving out of my house and so I had a couple of bits that could be used…. a bookcase and an old windsurf board. It just pokes over the bookcase where we keep the Barberini and sea2see sunglasses giving it a beach feel. We also managed to buy some large plants which make the place quite homely.
I think I achieved what I was wanting for the look and feel…..I thought it said what we were about and it does. What I didn’t budget for was people’s perception of that look and feel. It has really messed with the heads of many passers-by and when I thought about it from their perspective I could see their point. Like me they have never seen an eyewear boutique before, they’ve probably never thought about it. You buy glasses from the optician so where does this fit in? This is a common reaction to us from a lot of Piece Hall visitors and they don’t dare step in and see that we’re quite friendly and that its ok. It’s amusing listening to comments about what we’ve done here at the Piece Hall as most of the time we leave the door open. My favourite has to be though “ In my day they were an opticians!” I have very nearly gone out and informed them that surely it still is their day and that we are indeed still an opticians.
The real joy, however, comes from meeting those people who do dare step over our threshold and are as excited as us about what we do. They tell us about all the boring places they have had to go because they didn’t know of anywhere that offered exciting, interesting and individual glasses. These are people who know what it’s about. They like being surprised and embrace the unknown. Apart from pushing their eyewear boundaries, I love having conversations with them and listening to who they are and what makes them tick. These people make it all worthwhile. If this sounds like YOU then please come and say hello. We can’t wait to meet you. You are the reason we thought this crazy idea might just work.