Christmas shopping: Northampton vintage shop owner speaks passionately about success and saving the town
"I feel really passionate. I grew up in Northampton. It's my town. I want to save it."
An iconic and quirky Northampton vintage shop has spoken out about how it is trying to save the town and reinvigorate the High Street.
In the run up to Christmas, the Chronicle and Echo is celebrating and promoting the best of local businesses in a bid to get more people out shopping locally.
The fourth shop in our coverage is Vintage Guru at Hazelwood House, St Giles' St, which is owned by Julie Teckman and managed by Matthew Lewis.
The shop was voted Northants Independent Retailer of the Year in 2021.
Julie said: "We are Vintage Guru - I am the vintage and Matthew's the guru.
"Matthew is a genius. He runs the shop. He knows retail inside out and he is always there if you need anything. I couldn't do it without him.
"We are an emporium of small businesses and traders - we have over 120 different traders at our shop at the moment.
"We are a lifeline for new businesses and small businesses. We take that responsibility seriously - our shop is responsible for other people's livelihoods.
"We have been really busy lately, actually. We had one of our best Saturday ever last week - it was a really good day. Our figures in general have had year on year improvements."
The emporium sells a wide variety of things including vintage clothing, up-cycling products, handmade products, vinyl and more.
Julie grew up in Northampton and opened the business in 2018. She spoke passionately about what the shop means to her and what she thinks shoppers want to see in the town centre.
She said: "People like us, who own independent shops in the town, are fighting really hard.
"We are proud to be in the town centre, we don't want to be anywhere else. We are a High Street shop.
"I feel really passionate. I grew up in Northampton. It's my town. I want to save it.
"I love my shop. I love having a shop. I just love being part of the town centre and being part of the solution rather than the problem.
"I think people want to come shopping in the town centre. They want a reason to come shopping. I think if people knew how many shops there are, then more people would come into town.
"We offer an experience for our customers, as they never know what they are going to find - we currently have a neon disco diva in the entrance!
"You can get a lot of your Christmas shopping done in Northampton. We are constantly trying to tell our customers about other places to go shopping in the town centre."
The shop is ranked in the top 10 independents in the Northampton - according to Google Reviews.
Speaking about the shop's success, Julie added: "I think it's because we are very friendly. We like our customers, we get on really well with them.
"It's also a very quirky shop, so people don't know what they are going to find and subsequently come in a lot. The shop is quite iconic in the town too.
"I think we have a very strong vision of how we want the shop to be. We really do try to provide our customers with what they want. If customers come in and want to find this, this and this we will try to get hold of it. We try very hard to be what people want us to be."
Julie was asked how important it is to maintain St Giles' Street, she said: "It's absolutely crucial.
"It won't take much to let it go down hill. It's a nice street but it does not take much for that perception to go.
"I just think there needs to be a real strategy with St Giles' Street. I think there is too much focus on the Market Square at the moment.
"I was part of a group trying to get pop-up shops in the vacant town centre buildings, but that didn't come off."
Looking ahead to the future, Julie gave her two cents on where the town could be improved in terms of retail.
"People who come to our shop are more into pre-loved clothes. They want to buy second hand clothing. Scope in Abington Street have got an amazing range of clothes because they have a contract with ASOS - it's always full," she said.
"Why don't we market Northampton as a second hand clothing scene and promote sustainability? I just think our politicians should spend more time talking to people in the town."
Finally, Julie urged shoppers to go into the town centre this festive season and take advantage of the free parking after 3pm at council-owned car parks.
"Take advantage of the parking. Keep Northampton town trading. Do your research before you come in. There's really good stuff in Northampton."
The shop is open between 11am and 7pm on weekdays, 11am until 5pm on Saturday, and 11am until 4pm on Sundays.
For more information, visit the shop's Facebook page.