This shop can't close - we'll have to buy it!

May 29 2018

A SHOP that has been a fixture of Downend’s main shopping street for years has been saved from closure, thanks to customers who couldn’t bear to see it shut.

Earlier this year the Downend Voice reported that Fabrics Plus owner Brigitte Parker was preparing to close the shop in Badminton Road, after 30 years in business.

But it has now been bought by Robin and Sarah Honeywill, who have been customers since before the shop moved to Downend from Keynsham, six years ago.

Sarah is a keen seamstress, who has been sewing since she was five years old and already runs her own sewing and crafts business online. She makes everything from quilts and curtains to children’s clothes.

Sarah said: “The shop is where I’ve bought all my supplies for my sewing. I thought ‘it can’t shut - we need to buy it’, so we did.We couldn’t bear to see it close.

“I feel a bit like Victor Kiam, who liked his shaver so much he bought the company.”

Robin and Sarah, from Keynsham, plan to continue to employ the eight part-time staff who currently work at Fabrics Plus.

Sarah paid tribute to the staff’s knowledge, saying: “You can come in here and say ‘I want to make a quilt’ and they will tell you what to buy - people here will know the answers. You don’t need to go on Google, you can come here and chat.”

Robin has worked in sales for 25 years and was looking for a new challenge after years on the road as a rep. He is also a trained upholsterer, having developed an interest through his parents’ business, Honeywill Antiques, which traded in Clifton in the 1970s and 80s.

Robin said: “Sarah was a regular customer, and where else in the Bristol area would she be able to go to get the fabric she needed? The only way to do it was to take over.

“There’s so much in the press about the high street struggling, it’s hugely important that small independent businesses are supported. This is a success story - this business is a good business and we want to see the high street continue to boom.”

The changeover between owners was set to take place over the Spring Bank Holiday, with Mrs Parker’s last day on Saturday May  26 and the Honeywills opening for business for the first time on Tuesday, May 29.  

Sarah and Robin intend to keep things as they are at first but, after they have settled in, they have plans to start running sewing classes, possibly in the evenings. If those are a success, more could follow, including classes for children.

Mrs Parker told the Voice:  "I am very happy that Robin and Sarah are taking over the business, they are lovely people and I am sure they will continue to grow 'Fabrics Plus' as they have lots of ideas for taking it forward.  I have no doubt that with their enthusiasm and public support Fabrics Plus will be in Downend high street for many years to come.