Sparks Yard began life in April 2003. It had always been a dream of mine to have my own shop, probably just because I loved shopping so much! Having trained as a surveyor this was quite a change of career path but sometimes you just have to follow your dream! I managed to negotiate renting the ground floor of the building that my fatherís internationally acclaimed architectural practice occupied. My dad drove a hard bargain, told me not to attach anything to the walls (so that when it failed if would look as if I hadnít been there!) and gave me a two month rent free period to help me on my way. At this time the shop only occupied the ground floor and was in effect a miniature version of what we do now, aimed more at the locals than the tourists that visit Arundel, but aiming to be appealing to all. A place filled with desirable things to give as presents, keep for yourselves and generally make you smile, inspired by stores in the States. My mum Jane said she would help me in the shop for the first week until I found my feet, sadly for her this turned into three years! I had no concept of how busy we were going to be from day one.
Eight months later in November we expanded to the first floor which incorporated the coffee bar, cook shop and home store leaving downstairs dedicated to gifts, toiletries, accessories and toys. Obviously this was the time that we needed to take the leap and start employing some people! We are happy to say that one of the first members of staff, Sylvia, is still with us today. Since then we have had many of our team move on or keep coming and going but we always aim for the highest standards in customer service. In December 2004 Andy came to help us out over the busy Christmas period having just left his beloved but stressful job in farming. This was meant to give him some time to think about what he wanted to do next, but as seems to be the trend here, once he started he never left! The two of us have become a great team, something that we never imagined that we would! Andy joining me in running the business has meant that my mum has been able to step out for some much needed rest (although still enjoys helping out with the buying!) and Andy and I now have our own business that we are immensely proud of.
We now own the building behind the shop, The Piano Store, which we converted into our house in 2007. We love living so close to the business, this little patch of Arundel has become our life, and a very happy one it is too, well most of the time anyway!