Among the large retailers in the streets of Didcot, you’ll find an amazing little shop made with heart – the Oxford Etsy Concept Store. It has been a pop-up shop loved by the locals for years, but they are officially here to stay on a permanent basis.
When I first came to Oxford, chance had it that I bumped into a stall on the Christmas Market selling handmade items. The sign said “Oxford Etsy” and I started asking questions, learning that it is a local community of makers and artists who support each other selling on Etsy.
Needless to say, I was intrigued.
Fast forward four months, I had stalked their Facebook groups and events for long enough, and decided to join. At the time, they had a pop-up shop in the Orchard Centre in Didcot, and for the first time in my life I got to see my t-shirts and prints displayed in a real shop window.
But I didn’t just get loads of new customers, I quickly realised this was about so much more than just selling. I volunteered to work in the shop and discovered a supportive community of makers and artists I’d never even dared to hope to find in Oxford.
Since then, the Oxford Etsy Concept Store has gone from being a beloved pop-up shop to a permanent shop, and local artists can now use it for more than just selling their items. Christina O’Hare, team captain of the Oxford Etsy Team has been working tirelessly with other team members to make the most of their space in Didcot.
– We have an eco refill station, this includes home cleaning, body care products and sustainable items. The makers also run craft workshops, teaching their skills to others. In the past we have had custom finger print jewellery and custom t-shirt printing, Christina says.
Workspace and hot desks
For those looking for a workspace or coworking space that suits your creative needs (let me tell you, there are not many of these in Oxfordshire!), your prayers might just be answered soon.
– We are in the process of setting up workspaces, these will be for the makers to set up their business within the shop and offer custom and bespoke products to customers. We also have an area for hot desking and photography facilities which is available for all small businesses to hire, she tells me.
– Everything is a challenge for retail at the moment so it’s important to adapt to change and keep being innovative, Christina says.
The show must go on
The lockdown has taken its toll on most of the industry, but the team has not been taking a break. Christina has been working on her own jewellery business with online orders, but she also made sure the Oxford Etsy sellers got some serious help during the difficult times.
With the help of Christina’s family the shop ran a Virtual Oxford Etsy Team pop up shop via Facebook Live, giving a tour of the shop. Customers could ask questions about the products as well as place orders. It turned out to be a great interactive shopping experience, which worked out really well for the sellers and costumers.
As restrictions are starting to ease, we can expect to be able to meet the friendly faces of the shop and check out some of the amazing talents of Oxfordshire again soon. Although Christina doesn’t have an exact opening date just yet, they will let us know as soon as they do.
– I’ve been working on lots of really exciting collaborations over the past couple of months, working with different makers, artists and teaming up with some new businesses, I can’t wait to share these with everyone, she says.
We can’t wait either!
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