OPEN the door to Pippa Swindells’s shop and you walk into a treasure trove of almost everything connected with handicraft.
Stocked on shelves that almost cover the walls from ceiling to floor is everything you need for activities from cross-stitch work to weaving, from embossing leather to spinning and from art work to rug making.
There are even more items in the window displays and much more in the stockroom downstairs.
Ask Pippa how many different lines she stocks she smiles and points to a row of files lining a shelf in her office, each one labelled with the name of a supplier: “That’s the wholesalers we deal with” she said. “We’re led by what the customers ask us for.”
The files and the stock will soon be a thing of the past for Pippa. On November 11 she will lock the shop door in Worrall Road, Clifton for the last time after 44 years of selling baubles, beads and buttons.
“Before I moved in I counted the number of people walking up and down the road to see if their were enough potential customers. “I always wanted to run my own business and I wanted to do something connected with the arts. I started with just one shop but 12 years later took over next door as well. The shop was doing well but we were also running workshops as well, so we needed the space.” said Pippa.
“Some of our customers were children when they first came here. Now they come with their own children. We’ve also had four generations of the same family coming here.” she said.
Among her many regular customers are staff and students from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Pembroke Road nearby.
“They may want a button to go with a particular costume they’re wearing.”
Over the 44 years about 60 people have helped Pippa serve the customers. ”One of them stayed with me for 13 years working full time” she said.
Since Pippa announced her retirement customers have been paying tribute.
“They’ve all been very kind. People coming into the shop are all asking ‘Where can we go now for our arts and crafts supplies?’ I can’t help them because I don’t know of any other shop like this.
“Supporting the creative community in Bristol for all these years has been an absolute joy and I will miss it enormously. Thank you so much to all our loyal, lovely customers and staff for keeping us in business for this long”.