Meet Charlie & Alf’s - Heyland & Whittle’s Stockist of the Month
Welcome to our monthly series where we highlight some of our very favourite Heyland & Whittle stockists from across the country.
From the north of the nation to the south (and beyond!), we’re thrilled to partner up with so many fabulous independent shops, boutiques, and stores as part of their carefully selected wares.
This month, we had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Jess, who is co-owner of (and mum to!) Charlie and Alf’s, a gorgeous gift shop based in Oadby, Leicester. We talk community life, the joy of buying stock, and merchandising on instinct.
Hi Jess, great to be speaking with you – thanks for making the time! Could you tell us a little bit about the shop? There’s a lovely nod to your family in the name.
The shop began life over 12 years ago when my mum started it up – prior to then she used to sell at craft fairs and so on, and then the space became available and that’s where our story starts.
I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do in terms of career, but the shop was there, and I loved it, so I got involved! We’re a real family business. We’re named Charlie and Alf’s after my little boys, who are two and five.
The shop is tucked into a corner, though, so we do sometimes wonder if we should have changed the name to that. Whenever we give directions, it’s always “the nice shop on the corner!”.
What do you enjoy most about setting up shop in a village?
Our regulars are wonderful – we know we’re part of a special community and we love seeing them and hearing their news. I have to confess though, that buying stock and merchandising are my absolute favourite things to do.
Whenever I’m creating a window display or I’m setting out stock inside the shop, I’ve come to rely on instinct and having a good eye. There’s something lovely about seeing it all come together in an organic, beautiful way.
You’re in business with your mum – do you two have different tastes when it comes to selecting stock?
There’s definitely a spectrum of stuff that we like. Sometimes mum will choose something that I hate, and I know I do the same for her, but we know that if our tastes overlap on something, then there’s a pretty big chance that our customers will love it too.
We’re always looking for new things, something a little unusual or special, and we aim to stock things that people are going to love and cherish for a long time. Ultimately, we want to sell gifts folk want to keep.
We have to ask – do you have a favourite Heyland & Whittle product?
I just love the heart-shaped soaps – they’re so cute. Mum loves the bath melts herself, and they’re pretty popular with our customers too!
And lastly – if you had to describe Charlie & Alf in three words, which words would you say?
Variety, community, family.
Thank you so much for chatting with us, Jess!
Blog written & created for us by: Eloise Leeson - www.olimcomms.com