During our recent visit to Oban, we also popped into a little gem of a shop called “Made in Argyll”. It features a wonderful range of items which are made and managed by local creative artists based in Argyll.
Passionate knitter, Janice Stewart had been involved in a number of shared retail craft ventures before taking the plunge in August 2017 and opening her own shop on the south pier of Oban’s bustling harbourside.
Says Janice, a former primary school teacher:
“I started knitting when I was just three – although, as it happens, I didn’t do any craft work with my pupils, despite the fact that I love encouraging children to knit – and for some time now I’ve produced my knitwear under the brand name Phoenix Fabrics.
“I’ve had experience of several shared craft-selling projects over the years including a pop-up craft shop in Oban which was very enjoyable but when these premises at the pier became vacant, I felt it was time to branch out on my own.”
She explains: “Although responsibility for the shop including rent and other overheads, rests entirely with me, one of the big advantages of running my own enterprise is being able to take decisions when I want, without having to consult a lot of other people. I’m not claiming the decisions are always the right ones – but at least they’re mine! I’m also the one who has to decide whether or not to take on a new crafter which sometimes requires quite a lot of diplomacy. ”
Taking her years of experience into account, Janice knew she wanted to offer visitors – of whom there are many thousands every year, the majority catching ferries to and from the islands – a wide variety of affordable, well made craftwork, all of it produced in the area; hence the shop name: “Made in Argyll”.
And while Janice is solely responsible for her shop, she says she couldn’t run it so well without the help of some of the 32 crafters whose work is on sale there.
She explains: “Of the crafters who supply the shop, some pay me a standard £20 a week and give no commission to me when they make a sale; others prefer to pay a 25 per cent commission on sales – which is lower than the normal retail shop – and no fee with a limit of 10 pieces on display at any one time.
“My £20-a-week crafters also take turns working in the shop which is great for me as well as the customers who get to meet and talk to them about what they do. We also have a little info sheet about each of the crafters with a photo, and that goes on display beside the till when they’re on duty.”
Janice added: “Not only do the crafters take a turn at selling in the shop, they’re also a great help when it comes to shop display which is not one of my strong points!”
Further info about the shop on:
Photographs taken by Adam Scott Photos