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Independent Retailer Month: Prior Shop

To celebrate Independent Retailer Month, with the help of our partners SumUp we’re spending July highlighting some incredible independent retail entrepreneurs.

SumUp helps small businesses to get paid, whether they’re starting up or leveling up, supporting entrepreneurs to make their business ‘oOOooficial’.

Business name: Prior Shop
Founded by: Rebecca Prior
Launched in: 2019
You can find them: In-store in Bristol, and online at priorshop.uk and Pedddle

Prior Shop is a not-for-profit independent shop and workshops space in Bristol. It is committed to creating a conscious and mindful shopping experience by only stocking sustainably made modern homewares, accessories, jewellery and skincare. Prior Made supports local brands and is hub of information for local makers too. 100% of the profits that we make is fed back into community workshop provision, local creative projects to improve social issues, charity donations and more.

When did you switch the business from a hobby or side hustle into an oOOoofficial business?

I am passionate about sustainable design that doesn’t compromise the quality of the product. I’ve created work under my own brand Priormade since 2011. My design focus has always been contemporary, sustainable, bold and minimal; obsessed with Bauhaus/mid-century modern design of clean lines against geometric and earthy organic forms. I have sold my work in a vast amount of shops nationally and internationally for 10 years so I knew exactly how I want edto run a shop for the makers community! I didn’t though realise how running a shop would be another full-time job on the side. It has turned my own brand into a side hustle.

What are your hopes for the business post-Covid?

There has been a growing movement to shop with soul, to purchase mindfully and to buy less and buy better. The pandemic has supercharged this movement and I’m so excited for the future of independent shops and brands.

The area where we are in hasn’t quite regained the footfall since pre-Covid. We are near lots of large offices and the main train station in Bristol City Centre, so I am going to take on a huge pop-up shop in the city centre for 6 months straddling Christmas. The retail space downstairs will showcase some of the UK’s best sustainable designers. Upstairs we will run a massive timetable of workshops, offer hot desk space in return for charity donations and have a rotating exhibition space. I’m hoping that the buzz will generate enough promo for us and we will get even stronger. 

What’s the best thing about being an independent retailer?

We can pivot so quickly. There is no need for a chain of command so we can duck and dive whatever is thrown at us. We can work much closer with the communities we are located in and really make sure we are offering what people want. Also, we have the capacity to support local brands, local accountants and local courier services, something that big companies can’t/don’t do!

Being a small business, how have you benefitted from digital transformation?

One of the positive things about the last 16 months is how much I’ve learned about running an e-commerce business. I’ve attended multiple courses in social media, website design, press and marketing, and working with digital scheduling apps and virtual PRs. It’s incredible how efficient everything is now and how we are now reaching people further than we ever would have before the pandemic.  

It’s incredible much independent brands have upped their professional online presence. Independent shops and brands could never compete with the big faceless corporations, but going digital has given us the confidence to shout louder through ’shop small’ campaigns and enabled us to build relationships with customers on social media. People are realising that the tiny shop in their local ‘up-and-coming’ area does ship worldwide, will give you a better service and you will receive a far better product.