Sunday, 27 February 2011

A small hurdle

Things have been fairly quiet on the shop front this weekend. Why? Well, aside from borderline RSI due to excessive flat-pack construction (I just can't help myself), we hit a minor obstacle on our route to opening Seashore Ceramics.

It doesn't bear going into at length, but we discovered we'd have to apply for change of use planning permission on the property we're renting, from standard retail use to 'mixed use'. This meant some very stressful filling-out of some very cryptic forms late one night this week, and a whole day of chasing round different council departments, bits of information and photocopiers for K, so that we could get the application in as soon as humanly possible. By the sounds of it, the whole affair was a bit like that John Cleese film 'Clockwork', but set in the print shops of Newton Abbot.

We're really hoping that our request is going to be approved - in theory it shouldn't be a problem, but they can't guarantee anything, and the wait is up to 8 weeks before we know. Personally, I think they'd be mad to turn it down - a fun, creative, tourist-friendly business is surely just what the area needs, rather than just having a temporary 'fell off the back of a lorry' shop fill the space, or worse, leaving it empty - but then, I'm going to be biased, aren't I!

So, we'd been hoping to open for Mother's Day (first weekend in April), and still plan to if permission comes through earlier. If it takes the full 8 weeks, but as long as we actually get permission, we should still be able to open in time for the Easter holidays. And in the meantime, having taken our metaphorical feet of the gas slightly has given us time to do more work on getting our website and stock ordering set up.

I think things are going to be just fine, it's just a matter of trying to ignore the slight cloud of uncertainty which hangs over us for the near future!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Flatpack fest

It feels like a lot has changed in the shop in just a week.

The walls are almost painted, and the new flooring is down - the whole place looks so much brighter and cleaner! (OK, so it wouldn't have been hard, but still...)
K and his brother have been working hard: laying lino, painting walls and building a wall at the back of the room for the kiln to hide behind.
Back wall 20th Feb
Or me!

We also took delivery of our tables and chairs, which arrived in such a number of boxes that the delivery man actually called me up to check I hadn't mistakenly added an extra nought onto my order.

NB: the following pictures may only be exciting to other similarly disturbed types like me who love putting flat-pack up...
20 boxes of fun
Oooh, boxes!
Flat-pack fest
Mmm, pieces o' pine!

Instructions read in full, pieces categorised, and armed with my tiny allen key, the fun commenced. Before long we had our first table and chairs.
Finished set

The great thing about having done this is that we've been able confirm how many tables will fit in the shop. Having previously worried that we might not even fit eight tables in, it looks as if they'll fit comfortably - with possibly room for even more.


The To-Do list is still as long as both my arms (and one of my legs) put together, but with the help of a lick of paint and a little furniture, it must be said that it really feels like the shop is starting to come together!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Half a small forest

We just placed a whopping order for our shop furniture. After much to-ing and fro-ing, humming and hawing and running down every furniture supplier the internet had to offer, we went with a very plain set of tables and chairs from Homebase...
table and chairs
(photo brazenly swiped from their website)

...ten of them. Yes, ten. These pine babies will arrive unassembled, so I'm anticipating an orgy of flat-pack this weekend - which is good, because I have an unhealthy love of putting this stuff together. (If the business ever falls through, I am available for hire for all your flat-pack needs!)

They fall into the 'sturdy and inoffensive' category, which is what we wanted given that the main focus of the shop is to be the products themselves. Initially we'll probably only have space for eight, but wanted to get two extra in case we expand in future, and it'll be good to have the back-up of extra chairs in case things get busy.

The process of ordering them online was strangely stressful - whilst I know why the anti-fraud measures many banks have introduced in the last few years need to be there, they now mean I dread placing any orders over the internet, particularly large and costly ones using soon-to-expire discount codes. There's something mindblowingly frustrating about being at the mercy of a tiny little text box on a small glowing screen.

Meanwhile, K is making progress getting our signage sorted out, and we're moving closer to being able to place our first big stock order. There are so many things we need, and a couple of very competitive suppliers, which makes the whole process pretty complicated. Lucky then that my talents don't stop at furniture assembly, but extend to writing complex price comparison spreadsheets....

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Disclaimer: this post contains excessive DIY content and wallpaper facts.

Much progress was made this weekend chez Seashore Ceramics.

Firstly, the old gloomy carpet has gone. Amazingly, we posted it on Freecycle and within minutes had a number of takers - it was great to see it taken away by someone who could make use of it (and for us not to have to do twelvety trips to the tip!) The improvement was instant - from this:

70's faux-wood panelling
To this:
Sans carpet

Next step was covering up the 70s faux wood panelling, which we're doing by putting some lining paper and then painting over that. Fact: 1000-weight lining paper does the job much, much better than 800-weight.

Here I am, pasting away merrily (in, yes, the same demented clothes as last weekend)

You might notice my slightly unusual pasting table - it's a very retro counter which was left in this shop, which we're planning to use as our till counter.

Pasting station
Between the carpet removal and the new, clean walls, it feels like a different shop already.
Back wall
Next up: laying the new flooring, putting a wall in, and placing our first stock order!

Monday, 7 February 2011

The shop

After what felt like months of searching, we finally found a shop which felt like it ticked all the boxes for our little Pottery Painting Studio. Here it is - as you can see, it needs a little TLC.
Some work to be done on the outside...
After brief contract negotiations (very grown-up!), we got access last week and set to sprucing the place up.
The existing decor is an ...interesting mix of pub carpet, hanging basket brackets, and thick textured wallpaper painted roughly the colour of processed cheese.
For the strong of stomach, here's what came off the walls:
Tip: if you need to strip a considerable square-footage of vinyl wall-cladding, make like Freddy Kruger and slash it to bits. This is (a) a great stress-reliever and (b) allows the hot water to sink in and oh-so-helpfully dissolve the lower layers, meaning it can be satisfyingly peeled off, like PVA glue from the back of a hand. Why yes, I did pay attention in art class, what do you mean?
Two days of this:
(I'm blurry because I'm moving so fast, OK?)
And this:
and we'd managed to take it down to the super-retro original faux wood panelling.
The pups helped. Well, if by 'helped', you mean 'play fought, lolled around, attempted to eat pieces of wallpaper'.
Bored pups
(They were only peeved because they can smell the beach from the shop, and boy do they LOVE the beach.)
Next stop: learn to wallpaper, with the help of the internet. Should be easy enough, right?


... to the pages where we'll be posting our progress, photos and news in the run-up to opening Seashore Ceramics Pottery Painting Studio!