I have just realised that it's more than a month since I last blogged. My excuses? I've been juggling a busy shop with visits from two of our sons - Chris's eldest, a long haul flight from Perth, Australia, and mine, a more relaxing train ride from Edinburgh. I've never been more grateful for the sunshine. Chilling on our roof terrace was far preferable to huddling by the fire indoors.
So why are all the high street shops on sale? Okay so last Saturday may have been the longest day but this does not mean that June is the height of our summer. Why we're only just getting started! And as we all know, with our unreliable weather, none of us are going to fork out fortunes on floaty fashions while it's drizzling. Oh to have such confidence in the British sunshine. No, here in the UK we like to buy our summer clothes when we know we can actually wear them. Hey, we Brits are funny like that!
As I'm writing this from our sitting room bay window, I can see Therapy - sprouting flowers and newly painted. And I feel truly blessed to be a shopkeeper in this beautiful part of England. What could be more fun than selling pretty things to lovely customers? Aye, it's a hard job, but someone's got to do it!
Now retailing isn't brain surgery. If I have an off day no one really suffers, but that doesn't mean it's without it's stresses. I've already started buying for next summer. What about autumn? I hear you cry. Oh that was all put to bed by February, and my weather forecast for this winter is cold and crisp (I have lots of coats and boots on order!) Now I don't know whether it's going to snow this year. All I can do is make my selection based on previous experience, my customers' needs and my gut instinct. I can't tell you how surprised I still am every season when a style that I thought was a dead cert lies languishing on the rails!
Every year the buying appointments get earlier as my suppliers strive to be the first to secure part of my buying budget. Deliveries get earlier too. If I let them, my suppliers would deliver autumn stock in June. So the fashion industry dictates when the seasons start: winter in June and summer in November. Ridiculous!
I'm not very good at being told what to do. (I guess that's why I work for myself!) and having companies dictate that I sell inappropriate clothing for the weather makes me mad. The high street chain stores push the sale period ever earlier. What used to be August and January sales are now June and December. For a while the pressure of selling vests in February and wooly jumpers in July really got me down.
And then Therapy decided to get off the merry-go-round. Which is why last year we took the new and scary decision to delay our sale until mid August. You know, that month when the sun is usually at its hottest and most prolific? We figured that if the sun shines most often in July and August that it would make sense to be selling summer clothes. It was a terrifying wait but our first August sale was one of our most successful yet.
By delaying the sale we were able to offer our customers a proper range of weather-appropriate clothing instead of a soiled size 6 frock from the sale residue rail. Going on sale in August still meant that customers had another two months to wear their sale bargains. One thing we do seem to be quite good at in the UK is an Indian summer.
And my stress levels? They plummeted! My desire for a bit of sensible retailing had been fulfilled and I could enjoy the oncoming autumn season as the leaves were turning. Ah.
So I will continue to make Therapy enticing, introducing new styles and luring you in with scrummy windows. Because that is my role as a shopkeeper. I source lovely things so that when you ladies walk through my door I can show you something that you will rush home to wear - right now (unless of course you like to wear wooly jumpers in July).
So don't expect to see a SALE sign on our window until August - although I have started a SALE RAIL in the basement - for all those bits and bobs that I'm tired of looking at.
Instead come and see our extensive range of lovely linen dresses, comfy and elegant shoes, sorbet coloured suede bags, colourful and unusual jewellery and perfect separates. Because I don't know about you but I'm just in the mood for my summer wardrobe!