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Shop Profile

Historic home for contemporary gifts

Beautiful, contemporary gifts, sold against the backdrop of historic Lincoln, perfectly reflect the art of successful retailing. The steep,

cobbled streets that lead off the castle and stunning gothic cathedral are a natural location for quaint tea shops and galleries. But they must also reflect current demand for design-led product, handmade and craft items and the very latest in home interiors if they are to attract today’s shoppers. A spokesman at this year’s Ambiente said some

cities have developed ‘cool’ streets where independent retailers are concentrating on niche markets to create a shopping experience for customers. (See Page 10) And nowhere is this more

true than at Object&line, a light and airy home for Barry and Jill Hepton’s inspired stock that is ‘well made, well designed and well priced’. The shop’s home in

Bailgate which runs into Steep Hill is a magnet for tourists and local shoppers alike, and when it became available two years ago, Barry and Jill were quick to take it on.

They were already

running a successful online business and Barry said sales

16 Giftware Review & Home Interiors March / April 2015

experience from that was vital in setting up the bricks and mortar venture. He said: “Most people do it the other way round but this way is better because you already know what sells and why.” Sixty per cent of business is done online. The couple specialise

in product from middle sized companies abroad to

offer fresh design and ideas and the goods are displayed on simple wooden shelves. Jill worked for Habitat while their two daughters were growing up and Barry has worked in design as a university lecturer, a museum curator and also for the Arts Council in London. Prices are modest and

Barry is in no doubt the effects of the recession are still being felt. “The days of people buying things for the sake of it are long gone and if we overprice it would just put our customers off. I notice shoppers increasingly use debit cards rather than credit and I think that is to avoid overspending.” The location of the

shop is crucial, he said. “I could not sell this type of product in other areas of

Lincolnshire. This part of Lincoln attracts people from a wide area and tourists come from all over the world.” Among the best sellers are a range of toys by

French company Djeco and beautiful mobiles by Flensted also do well. Windows are changed about every three weeks and Barry is proud of the complements he receives. When we visited, the display featured some

tiny little hand painted birds from Zimbabwe selling for just £5. “This display has proved incredibly popular and shows how important window displays are,” he said. Lincoln retailers also benefit from a thriving

Guild of Shopkeepers and a Business Improvement Group which together stage a variety of events to draw shoppers to Lincoln. The Christmas Market is huge and there is also

a Buskers Festival and Steam Pump Festival among others. The UK Cycle Championship will go past the shop this year and a celebration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta will be an additional attraction.

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