A clever combination of fashion and furniture sets this yummy mummy paradise apart from other indies.
Being a furniture store owner may not necessarily be the most obvious grounding for launching a womenswear boutique, but it is handy for kitting out the store. Aberdeenshire contemporary womens-wear shop Parade started life as a furniture store two years ago after owner Angela McCardle decided to swap her London investment banker lifestyle for a move back to her Scottish homeland.
Formerly a Saturday girl at her local furniture store, she decided to try her luck at selling furniture first-hand. So successful was McCardle that she had to move her business, located on the main street of rustic Aberdeenshire village Alford, to a bigger store around the corner earlier this year, leaving the empty shop waiting to be filled.
“It doesn’t necessarily follow that we should launch clothing when the only selling I know about is furniture, but we had trialled jewellery and kidswear in one of our other stores and there was so much call for womenswear, I just decided to take that leap,” says McCardle.
Despite it now being a clothing shop, McCardle’s furniture background is still in evidence. From the Conran sofas and mirrored glass display boxes sitting in the window through to the reconditioned church pews and lacquered wall brackets, McCardle likes to combine modern pieces with vintage elements.
Add to that the fact that much of the furniture is available to buy at Parade’s dedicated furniture stores – McCardle has another store in nearby Stonehaven – and this also doubles as a clever cross-pollination tool for revenue streams.
The shop stocks a selection of contemporary brands from the younger Avoca Anthology collection to the smarter styles of Part Two and InWear. McCardle stresses that brands are bought in themes rather than as a group of discordant items as she is keen to keep the shop looking cohesive.
“I learned a lot about merchandising through the furniture stores, and I put a great deal of importance on making the shop feel like a place that fits together. The pieces for each brand are chosen carefully and each collection is its own story.”
The decor reflects the “old meets new” theme visible through the furniture choices. A contemporary chocolate brown and mint green colourway is contrasted by a retro floral print wallpaper, and while antique-looking black wrought iron chandeliers hang from the ceiling, the black slate floor is fitted with high-tech underfloor heating.
“Our goal is to offer the yummy mummies of Alford a place that stands out from the rest of the village, something that would fit comfortably into the London independent scene, yet has the friendliness and accommodating nature [Parade has a children’s play area in-store and free parking] you get froma local shop.
Parade 59 Main Street, Alford, Aberdeenshire AB33 8PX
1,900sq ft: Size of the shop floor at Parade
£850,000: Predicted turnover in Parade’s first year
7: Number of womenswear brands stocked by Parade