The shop was closed last Sunday for our annual summer day trip so we headed over the Pennines to the lovely city of Leeds. We all (including Olive, resident shop dog) headed over bright and early and took a stroll through the town centre. We all thought that Leeds is a wonderful city, and as you may have seen on social media, we decided that because it is so great we are opening a shop there!
The new shop is based on Kirkgate which is one of the oldest streets in Leeds, dating back to the Anglo Saxon period. The area reminded us of the Northern Quarter in Manchester, slightly set off the main shopping high street, but close enough that it is within easy reach. With our own story dating back to 1886 it seemed appropriate that we would find a home in Leeds that is steeped in history. In fact, the building is so historically important that it even has it’s own blue plaque.
The new Leeds shop was originally a warehouse belonging to Issac Dewhirst who was a wholesale haberdasher and manufacturer of hosiery, pinafores, undergarments and aprons. Thanks to Dewhirst one of the most famous retail partnerships was formed here at 34 Kirkgate. In 1880 Michael Marks arrived in Leeds from Russian Poland and borrowed money from Dewhirst so he could launch a series of penny bazaars across the city. Along with providing finance, Dewhirst also introduced Marks to his cashier Tom Spencer and in 1894 the two formed one of the most famous retail partnerships, Marks & Spencer!
After finding about the history of the building we had a chance to take a look around the two floors of the shop, work out what the new layout will be and test our Risographed ‘coming soon’ bunting. We can’t wait to start renovating the space, kitting it out and giving it that Fred Aldous feel.
After we checked out the new shop we took a short stroll to Shears Yard for a spot of lunch. The food was delicious, we highly recommend the Sunday Roast if you are in the area. After we’d eaten we caught a few rays in the beer garden, and some of us were even lucky enough to get some styling tips from Paul and Karen’s daughter, Iris!
We had an amazing trip as you can see from the smiles on our faces and we can’t wait to head back to Leeds. The transformation of the shop has already started taking place, walls are coming down and our signature peg board will soon be going up. Don’t forget to keep an eye on our blog and social media for updates on all the developments, we can’t wait to be part of the city and to meet all of you that live, work and study there!