Christmas Shopping in London

Flor Unikon Shopping roadshow: During the months of November and December we have had wonderful opportunties to promote and sell our creations at some great alternative venues. On the 16th November we were invited by Skandium to host a Christmas themed stand outside their department store and wowed the villagers and vistors with our stylish creations. We took advance orders for our wreaths and bookings for our christmas workshops. Skandium took up our offer to host further shopping events during the weekends leading up to Christmas and we are so glad they did – being associated with their brand has given us a promotional boost to the West End set. They really understand our creative philosophy and love our unique style. In practice our sales of wreaths, garlands and table decorations have shot through the roof; this weekend in fact [9th-11th December} we just about kept up with demand.

One of our EC1 clients invited us to St Paul’s Cathedral School Christmas Fair to sell our wreaths and decorations. Along with four other stall holders we were lucky enough to have a pitch close to the mini ice skating rink. This of course attracted a huge crowd of parents and children who whilst waiting for their turn on the rink did a spot of shopping. We had produced a range of pocket money priced gifts that sold very well to our junior clients. It was such a sweet sight to see them counting out their last few pennies to pay for a gift for mummy or their girlfriend!

Duckie Christmas Market was our next shopping venture. Duckie, an arts and event company, has hosted its very first market at the Barbican Centre. The centre’s front halls and exhibitions areas was given over to artists, designers and other creative folk. We hired a stand this last weekend and met a lively bunch of artists, designers selling chocolates, cards, dolls, sculptures, jewellery, clothing, bags and other small gift items of a quality you don’t normally associate with a craft market in London: Gordon Murray’s Harris Tweed clocks, bags, mobile phone holders were delightful, in cute tartan designs, http://glegneiss.co.uk; we love the Scandi style of Anne Fortin’s home accessories that are contemporary, organic and ethical, e.g. cushions, placemats and napkins in a lively pallete of colours, www.annefortin.co.uk; the amazing Scott Twins draw, paint, write and sew together. We particularly loved their illustrations that are both stylish and whimsical, www.scott-twins.posterous.com ; the Constructive Studio produce their own unique range of handmade bowties, t-shirts, toys, cards and prints, www.constructivestudio.com ; the domestic products created by James Michael Shaw have been featured in Monocle Magazine, e.g. his brush and dustpan has a practical construction – a hole in the pan and a connecting thread from the brush means both can be stored together – without either going astray, www.jamesmichaelshaw.co.uk ; Clerkenwell Chocolates have been awarded silver and bronze medals for their products. The truth is in the tasting and having tasted several varieties we can vouch for the quality and heavenly produce. The milk chocolate Rose and Lavender are two of our favourites, www.clerkenwellcholocate.co.uk

A big thanks to our new friends at Skandium, St Paul’s and Duckie for their support and helping to keep our heads above water during this extremely busy shopping period.

Shopping observations: It is Saturday afternoon on Marylebone High Street and during the quieter periods at our Skandium stand I have been observing the different types of shoppers, some sailing by at full throttle and others drifting in the breeze.

Shopping for the most part is a happy past time for many women. In a group they spur each other on to buy that treat that perhaps they wouldn’t dare to buy alone. And take risks with a new colour or design of dress as a result of hearty and girly encouragement.

In general, Men tend to hate shopping seeing it as a necessity, a chore, something to be done as quickly as possible. The solo male shopper is rather like a frisky rabbit – his body twitching to get ‘the job’ done, spying the desired product, buying it and hopping on to the next store.

But the male shopper with his girlfriend/wife is a different animal. I have likened him to a sulky puppy. It is an amusing sight seeing the enthusiastic gazelle like female shopper sprinting ahead, just about managing to clutch on to her reluctant male, who by dragging his heels is hoping for a miracle cure to his partner’s shopping craze. One particular mooching breed looks up at me as he is released, but temporarily, from his partner’s clutches as she breezes into Skandium. His rolling eyes and raised eyebrows probably speak for millions of other males caught up in the shopping fever for which there is apparently no remedy. I have a potential female customer and so my ‘male’ shopping observations are curtailed for a few minutes. Her “oohs” and “aahs” tell me that she loves our wreath creations that are neatly displayed around the doorway. She coos similary with her friends who have just arrived armed with a plethera of bags and wrapped parcels. Then in a flash they are gone, all have just dived into Divertimenti across the street. I don’t need to be in earshot to understand them – their perfectly manicured hands point and curl at products and each other, long lashed eyes flash with excitement and easy laughter and highly glossed lips are full of lively gossip about absent girl friends or male partners. How lucky must their boyfriends feel to be elsewhere. I then discover that one male is not so lucky as I turn around to observe the Skandium couple. She is pointing at potential gifts, probably for one or both sets of parents, whereas the sulky mutt is stifling a yawn.

I then notice other breeds around the shop. There is a male escapee on the sofa playing with a wooden car and an elephant to the amusement of his toddler son. Another makes his escape when his darling girl has a screaming tantrum and so enthusiastically marches her out of the shop. Some even have a smart get out plan to avoid crossing the shop’s threshold. For example, I overhead a middle aged husband say to his wife “he do’n look too good” meaning their red cheeked child belted tightly into a tank-like buggy, “I’m gonna take him for a walk around the block”. It worked. She let him and their healthy son go. If only our Scandi male could have observed this man’s ‘get-out of shopping’ style. He most likely has other excuses up his sleeve that he could pass on to the younger generation of reluctant male shoppers.

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