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Barnsley indie Pollyanna closes after almost 50 years of trading

Designer independent Pollyanna, which opened in Barnsley in 1967, closed its doors on Saturday (June 14) because of owner Rita Britton’s ill health.

Britton told Drapers once she felt better she would focus on developing Nomad, her clothing and accessories brand that was previously sold through Pollyanna.

In around three months’ time she plans to launch a dedicated Nomad website. In future she hopes to “open something more akin to a gallery than a shop” showcasing Nomad alongside other lifestyle products.

Britton said Pollyanna, which occupied a four-floor Georgian townhouse on Market Hill, was among the first stores in the UK to stock Japanese brands including Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe and Yohji Yamamoto, as well as US labels Carpe-Diem Apparal and Adam Kimmel. Other labels included Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Forme D’expression and Dries Van Noten.

The property, which included a cafe, will be put up for sale shortly.

Britton said: “The reaction [to Pollyanna closing] has been unbelievable. It was very emotional on Saturday, people were in tears. I’ve met some amazing people through the store. It has given me 47 years of life I never expected and I would never change.”

Anne Wright, owner of premium independent Young Ideas in Derby and Ashbourne, said: “Pollyanna was an iconic UK indie – one of a select few that were exciting businesses set up in the late 1960s. Young Ideas is from the same era so there is a sense of affinity. Rita was an inspiration for me prior to taking over at Young Ideas in 2008. I grew up in South Yorkshire in the 1970s and Pollyanna was a shining light – quite a revelation in the northern mining community of Barnsley!”

Former designer and Central Saint Martins College lecturer Stephanie Cooper added: “Rita was supportive of emerging designers as well as established brands – she’s always looking for new brands that were obscure. She was one of the very few stockists of the fantastic Paul Harnden range of clothes and shoes, and she fiercely supports Barnsley. She knows most of her customers personally and always has an incredibly strong presence in the shop, usually head to toe in Yohji Yamamoto, looking fabulous.”

Nomad is made in the UK. Prices start at £500 for dresses, between £500 and £600 for cashmere knitwear and between £1,600 and £2,000 for leather handbags.

Readers' comments (4)

  • so sad to see such an Icon closing we wish her well

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  • Thierry BAYLE

    Nomad is made in the UK. Prices start at £500 for dresses, between £500 and £600 for cashmere knitwear and between £1,600 and £2,000 for leather handbags.
    Is this paragraph right? It must belong to another article?

    Thierry Bayle

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  • Thierry BAYLE

    Sorry - I read too quickly the article and focusing on Nomad and therefore her own Brand is a good thing. It shows the importance of having a private label programme to improve profitability in the store. Even though it can be hard work at the beginning.
    When I started in the UK in 93, she was already well known and several of my clients were selling to her. She can certainly do with Nomad what she has done with Pollyanna.

    Thierry

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  • 50 years in the business now that's go to be worth a life time achievement award!

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