Ok – first of all, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the plan to open our new Windsor shop during the Covid pandemic. With non-essential shops closed for months on end, and High Street giants toppling around us, that would be just silly, right? But come the 12th of April, the first day shops were allowed to reopen in England, there we were in Windsor, joyfully flinging open our doors.
On reflection though –
– it might be exactly because of the long grey months with shops closed and stress and anxiety mounting that opening this April was such a good thing. Maybe, it was the very fact that everything around us was closed that made opening a new shop something to celebrate. On top of that – the very concept of Craft Coop - how it works, who it serves, and how we created this shop – every single one of those makes people smile.
Let’s start at the beginning and just explain what Craft Coop is. As a Community Interest Company, we’ve pledged to support the community of local craftspeople – mostly by providing a Town Centre shop for them to sell their products from. We’ve been doing this for over ten years – and our shops (located in Maidenhead, Camberley, High Wycombe, and now – Windsor) have won numerous awards. Local makers are chosen through Open Calls (this year run virtually over Zoom), and – more and more – through word of mouth. Chosen because of the high standard of their work, how close to the shop they live, and the balance of products in the shop, makers rent the space that suits their product for as long as they want, and they agree to help out in the shop. This creates a beautiful shop showcasing unique, handcrafted products run by a community of local craftspeople. Because the “staff” in the shop are actually the people who make the products, it means that they can tell you all about how the product was made, what it was made from, and who made it. By bringing local makers together, it also means that friendships are formed, collaborations made, and experienced people can mentor those just starting out. In Windsor, this new group of local craftspeople also worked together to “build” the actual shop.
We didn’t just suddenly decide to create a shop – we’d been talking with the management team about the empty unit at the quiet end of Windsor Yards for quite some time – and then Covid happened, and everything stopped. In the new year, however, contracts were signed, and we were finally able to start transforming the empty shell into a beautiful and welcoming space. And so, our newly formed group of creatives worked together, painting the exposed concrete floor, covering the dark blue and red walls with fresh white paint, and working out layouts. Abandoned display units were rescued from nearby empty shops, and shelves were erected. Finally, the beautiful handcrafted products started to fill the space, and that’s when the magic happened.
The new shop in Windsor is a joy. The space is calm, but at the same time inspiring and exciting. Full of beautiful products, customers are justifiably proud that most items are made less than 15 miles away from Windsor. We have seen a surge of love for local during lockdown, and this has been extended to the new Windsor Craft Coop. We have also noticed that people are increasingly interested in the provenance of a product, and have a real interest in knowing how and where things are made, and of course our makers can provide all of that information. We’ve also noticed that people are tired of seeing the same old High Street offerings, and of course, because the beautiful items in the Craft Coop shop are handcrafted rather than mass produced, each is unique - a truly special gift, memento – or treat.
And so….Opening a shop in a pandemic isn’t the easiest thing to do….but what a wonderous thing our new Craft Coop shop is! A good news story on so many levels – Local, Unique, Handcrafted….and Community. We absolutely believe that opening this new shop was a Good Thing - and we hope you feel the same sort of optimism and and pride in local and handcrafted we do. See you there?
The new Windsor Craft Coop is located in Windsor Yards, next to Vision Express
Unit 15, Windsor Yards, Windsor SL4 1TF
Follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/craftcoopuk
and Instagram www.instagram.com/craft_coop for news about all of our shops,
For news specifically about our Windsor shop, - www.facebook.com/groups/craftcoopwindsor