Skip to content

New Shambles all-female businesses ‘an inspiration’

The ‘energy and spirit’ of the business owners of one historic Kendal shopping street are providing a framework of how the high street and town center economies can be saved.

The New Shambles in Kendal is unique in that every business in the quirky arcade of boutiques is owned and run by women, creating a distinctive community spirit.

The sloping, narrow street originally became an arcade of 12 butchers’ shops in 1804, the blood running down the incline, giving it the name of ‘Stinking Lane’, but has shed the grisly reputation in favor of being a hub of fashion, crafts , arts, and coffee.

Geraldine Ward, behind the Spinning Jennies development in Kendal, said the New Shambles is an integral part of Kendal’s future:

“The energy and spirit of the ladies of the New Shambles echoes towns across the country, where the motivational collaboration of independent local retailers is saving characterful high streets and enlivening local economies.

READ MORE: ‘The biggest beast on the block is about to wake up’ – Town on the up despite two shop closure

“Their strength is inspiring and the New Shambles charming because of them.

“Personally, I love the coffee from the oldest lady on the street – the 45-year-old Italian coffee machine!

“Also, I can’t resist the gorgeously scented handmade soaps, which are even available for dogs if you have one.”

The coffee machine referred to is the Ariete E61 that Bobbi Fisher, owner of About Time Espresso Bar, is so proud of:

The Westmorland Gazette: COFFEE: Bobbi Fisher, owner of About Time Espresso BarCOFFEE: Bobbi Fisher, owner of About Time Espresso Bar

“It’s my favorite thing in the place.

“I’ve been here nearly four years, I renovated it last year during lockdown and wasn’t even sure I was going to come back, but decided to give it a real makeover.

I was an interior decorator, hence why I can create something like this by myself, and we only use locally-roasted coffee.”

Pandy Grenville-Evans is the longest-serving business owner on the street, having owned her ‘good old-fashioned knitting shop’ The Kitten and the Goat for 10 years.

The Westmorland Gazette: KNITTING: 'Proper knitting shop' The Kitten and The GoatKNITTING: ‘Proper knitting shop’ The Kitten and The Goat

She said: “It’s a lovely little alley, we’re a real community – we have spats and fall out now and again but we jog along – we use every inch of space here, but we tend to bond together.

“We’re all having the shopfronts done together, with the BID’s help, and each unit is going to be a different colour.

“These buildings are so historic, with 16th-century original beams.

Sandra Rodrigues, the Portuguese owner of Begin With Nature said she is expanding into the unit next door to cope with the demand for her handcrafted soaps and shampoos:

“I’ve been here 5 years. We are like a big family.

The Westmorland Gazette: SOAP: Sandra Rodrigues, owner and soap-maker of Begin With NatureSOAP: Sandra Rodrigues, owner and soap-maker of Begin With Nature

We all chipped in for the Jubilee bunting, Pandy made it, and Bobbi put it up yesterday.

“I’m expanding into next door because I can have a workshop where I can make my soap – people can come and see how I make it, and I will be doing classes and workshops for people.

“This is a traditional way of making soap with caustic soda, fats, and butters – I very rarely use fragrances, just essential oils.

“Every business on the street offers something unique – because we’re independent and small, we’re not always open at the same time, but it’s really a great shopping experience for anyone looking for something different – this is the future for town centers !”

I have a lot of regular customers, people coming from Manchester to my shop, as there are so few, independent knitting shops.

READ MORE: New design boutique aims to bring a Mancunian flair to town

Alison Davison bought bridal boutique A Family Affair in October 2019, offering three different ranges of plus-size dresses.

The Westmorland Gazette: BRIDAL: Alison Davison outside A Family AffairBRIDAL: Alison Davison outside A Family Affair

She said: “Price-wise we pride ourselves in being accessible, our cheapest bridal dress is £500, and our dearest is about £1800, but that’s a Ronald Joyce, a big name.

“We have an upstairs bridal and groom’s room where the parties can try on their whole outfits and drink some prosecco and have fun.

“We now offer a full range of accessories – hats, handbags, shoes, jewellery, so customers don’t have to go from shop to shop or take little samples – they can try the whole outfit, and we now offer mother-of- the-bride outfits too.”

Judith Harrison, owner of fashion and accessories boutique Rainbow Accessories said The New Shambles is often overlooked:

The Westmorland Gazette: BOUTIQUE: Judith Harrison outside Rainbow AccessoriesBOUTIQUE: Judith Harrison outside Rainbow Accessories

“We get a bit forgotten about here really, it’s part of the heritage of the town – it’s really the locals that need to be made aware of what they can get down here.

“I try to be affordable, and to accommodate all women, young and old, we do watch batteries and watch straps as well which keeps us ticking over.

“We had a great Christmas display paid for by Kendal BID – it’s important to mention Kendal BID as it sometimes gets a bad press.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.