Hardware shop finds the space to grow
A complete refit in the heart of the beautiful Lake district
The hardware store J F Martin has been at the heart of the beautiful Lake District town of Ambleside for nearly a century. It was opened after the First World War by Joseph Fredric Martin, a tinsmith who made bespoke utility ware, copper kettles, utensils and designer items in metal in a workshop in Church Street.
The business moved in 1922 to the present site in Compston Street and it has passed through three generations of the same family. Nick and Helen took over the business in 1986, sharing the same values that their grandfather had, to provide a valuable service to the area. Their children, Philip and Amy, also work there part-time. As Nick said, ‘We are privileged to be here and serve what has always been a kind and friendly community.’
'Quart into a pint pot'
The shop and business has undergone a number of changes over the years. Nick’s father, Charles, moved the entrance to create a larger shopfront and improved the layout. It has always been an ironmongers and hardware store, where, over the years, the variety of products has varied and their experience has grown.
Nick and Helen felt the shop now needed a makeover. Nick said, ‘The store was looking a bit tired and a lot of floor space had been lost over time to new lines that had nowhere else to go. We wanted the shop to work better, giving a neater and tidier environment for customers and staff, and making it easier to find things. It wasn’t about increasing turnover – we just felt it needed improving.’ One of their main aims, like most independent hardware stores, was the ‘quart into a pint pot’ challenge – to create extra space to add stock, while at the same time displaying all of it better.
Increasing display space by a third
They approached Salepoint Ltd through bira/BHF. ‘We were very pleased with their ideas for the business,’ said Nick. Salepoint identified three ways to maximise display space. By increasing the height of the gondola and wall units, and adding an extra row of gondolas, the shop would gain the equivalent of another shelf throughout the complete premises.
Salepoint’s Dennis Wilmot explained: ‘Our design meant we were able to able to boost display space by a third. The plans also included flip-flap panels, which 20 years ago were a common feature of hardware shops but were something we hadn’t used for quite a while. These are incredibly efficient for maximising display space for smaller items, such as ironmongery, without cluttering up the shop.’
Salepoint fitted out the shop completely, supplying a new floor as well as the shopfittings. The colour scheme is brighter and new wall unit lighting has further enhanced the look of the shop. The window display has now been opened up, creating a more inviting layout and encouraging more browsing. The refit was paid for by a special offer on finance from bira Bank.
'Every Hardware shop's dream'
It is early days, but both customers and staff like the new look. Helen said the finished job looked amazing. ‘It’s every hardware shop’s dream. The shop looks much more spacious than before, yet we have more stock on display.’
Nick said, ‘We’ve had some really positive feedback. Virtually all our customers are happy with the new look and the staff enjoy working in the new environment. We have increased turnover since the refit and we are finding that customers are doing a lot more self-selection.’
With the fourth generation involved, the future is looking good for the family business. Another chapter in its history book could be about to be written.