It’s our birthday! Looking back on ten years of business – Part 2
With a fairly small budget to pay for the furniture on that first container back in 2003, plus warehousing, photography, website and other expenses, I had decided to initially run Shimu from my home. It was streamlined: just me, the internet, a phone and a card machine. However, I soon started to get a good stream of visitors to the website, followed by enquiries and soon afterwards my first orders.
Turnover grew rapidly from that first year and it soon became clear that I needed a base to work from as well as a space to show off some of the beautiful furniture I was selling. By 2006 I had also decided to start importing and selling Chinese antique furniture, having met a number of contacts on subsequent visits to Shanghai and to Beijing. Although we continue to sell even these pieces mostly unseen via our website, I felt at that time that it was important to have a space to show off some of these items.
Our first, modestly sized, showroom opened in Rawdon on the outskirts of Leeds around April 2006 and promptly closed for a few days soon afterwards when my second child was born. Although we could only show a small part of our range there, it did make a difference, and I quickly realised that customers were prepared to make long distance trips to visit us.
Two years later and with additional staff, I was looking for larger showroom premises. I found a great space in Saltaire – the Victorian factory village that is now a World Heritage Site. The much larger space over two floors allowed us to show far more of our reproduction furniture, including the recently introduced Contemporary and Country ranges, as well as more pieces from our ever growing range of antiques. I loved being part of the village – Saltaire is not only a place with a real sense of history: built to house the workforce for the imposing Salts Mill – but is also buzzing with creativity and home to great events such as the Saltaire Festival and Arts Trail.
We had a great five years in Saltaire but again, we were limited by space. This led to our recent move to nearby Greengates – with 6000 square foot of showroom and storage space over two floors and a wonderful setting for our products. We’ve now been here for about 3 months and it feels like a great home for Shimu. I certainly don’t have plans to move again anytime soon!
If you’ve not been to see us in our new premises yet then I hope you can make the trip in the near future. In the meantime, we will continue with our plans to extend our product range and promise to keep bringing you beautiful antiques from China. I’m sure the next ten years will keep us as busy as the last.
Owner & Founder of Shimu