We like a store visit. And we really like a visit from our suppliers. We might like some warning so we can do a bit of a job smartening ourselves up and maybe make a special effort with the window or get the feather duster out.
We might even buy a packet of biscuits to have with coffee. But, essentially, you take us as you find us. We really like a visit because it’s our chance to show what we are.
We may not (Lucy, my co-buyer, will not be offended) be perfect Hambledon ambassadors on a buying appointment. We’re not very fashiony, we’re a bit rubbish with make-up and fancy hair and we may create the impression that the shop must be a dowdy country cousin to more glamorous urban stores. So we really like a visit to show that the shop is greater than the sum of its buyers.
I’m surprised, and sometimes a bit grumpy, that it’s not a requirement of every brand to see the shops in which their clothes are sold or in which they would like their clothes to be sold.
It’s a bit like me trying to do a season’s buy from a line sheet. You might get the general idea of the collection from a drawing but you won’t have any understanding of the detail.
We like our visitors to make themselves known. We don’t want any skulking in the corner with a clipboard and a badly hidden digital camera. We really like nothing better than a conversation about clothes and people and shops.
So please, come and visit. The kettle’s on. Unless we’re busy with actual retail paying customers who are buying the clobber and who will always, always take precedence. Sorry.
Victoria Suffield is the owner of lifestyle retailer The Hambledon in Winchester