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What would I do without you?

It’s been 2 weeks since Bunyip had its light fingered visitor, and that awful feeling that I’d really messed it up this time washed over me and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

So much has happened since, so many emotions, and November has run away and it’ll soon be Christmas and life isn’t going to let up so I thought it best to get something written now to catch you all up on the story.

Firstly I still feel a bit stupid about the whole thing. I know I should have been more careful but a working woman needs coffee. It feels wrong that I let my guard down for 1 minute, switched off, get distracted in the middle of a task and I’m punished for it. I still feel like having a trantrum and stamping my feet and shouting IT’S NOT FAIR at the top of my lungs. Most of you are aware of the journey Bunyip has had over the last 12 months or so. It’s not been easy, but of course you just keep your chin up, smile and keep going.

I didn’t really want to publicise what happened but I also didn’t want people to hear through the rumour mill  or wonder why I was in such a state and I think I made the right decision.

The whole social media sharing thing isn’t natural for me but I am so glad I let people know. It was a real eye-opener that people actually want to know what you’re going through, and I feel blessed by the reaction of my friends, customers, fellow traders, the City, the retail community and the wider crafting community. I’ve cried tears of frustration, joy, gratitude and relief. I’ve cried for no reason what-so-ever. I’ve been spending evenings reading through all your kind words, and incredible generosity. I’ve had cake, craft courses, earrings and vegetables thrust into my hands with such conviction I had no choice to accept – which is harder than you think! I’ve had people visiting the shop everyday and its been wonderful to see you all. I’ve had the 2 best weeks in this shop and on the website. It’s completely blown me away.

The Police have CCTV of the culprit entering and leaving the shop, but have been unable to find the cash box having followed his path after he left here, I’m waiting to hear if they have an clear shots of his face so we can try to identify him. The insurance claim is in and I’m crossing my fingers that they will accept my claim.

Your reaction has galvanised me to carry on and look forward with renewed hope for next year and the years after that. I’ve always seen Bunyip as a family business. Not just my family (although look out for Esme’s Scrunchy Business coming soon!) but the wider Exeter and Devon community of people who just love to make.

So THANK YOU, thank you thank you for your likes, your shares, your purchases, your hugs, your veg, your shoulders to cry on, your lovely comments, your wave of messages, your bags full of orders, and your love.

Mattie xx

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What happens next?

I like to think I am an endlessly positive person, especially where Bunyip is concerned, but this is a tough one to write and has been a tough decision. I’ve come out of the other side of the shame and failure, and am trying really hard to see change as good.

Bunyip Craft is on the move once again. The costs in our big, beautiful shop have become too onerous, despite cutting every cost to the bone, lowering staffing hours and working in the shop as much as I can. Business Rates have gone up twice since I’ve been here, and in the last re-evaluation the percentage discount the shop used to get for being landscape shaped rather than portrait shaped was taken away too, so my rates are almost entirely made up of retail zone A, ouch! Being over the VAT threshold doesn’t help either, with VAT at 20% many businesses struggle at this point of their growth.

My lease is up on 1st October and I just couldn’t afford to re-sign it. This is not because we’re not a successful business, we have a good take through the till, and online, but the costs are too high to be able to make the maths work and customer spend is going down. Our footfall is steady, as is our number of sales, but sales are getting smaller as customers feel the pinch and worry about their own incomes, Brexit and the world economy.

So, the upshot is, we are looking for a new premises, something more affordable, smaller certainly, but nothing right has presented itself yet. We would love to have a place with an office and workshop space, so that we can carry on with our parties and teaching, as well as the shop. We don’t mind where it is really, we hope we have the customer loyalty and brand recognition to take being off the main drag. If you know of anywhere, please get in touch, all offers considered!

This might be a chance to change the way I run the business, I’ve been running Bunyip for over 15 years now, and with 2 kids and a husband who can work more hours if I give him the time, life has changed a lot in that time.  I have loads of ideas I’d like to work on, I’d like to wholesale my jewellery making and sewing kits, along with making jewellery for other shops, I’d like to do more shows and craft fairs, I’d like to have time to spend on my website, Etsy shop and blog, I want to run DIY craft pub nights, I want to host Pop ups all over the place, I want to teach more, I want to have the flexibility to be able to run with an idea or offer that comes my way. I can’t do any of this at the moment because I have to be on the shop floor to sell a 40p metre of elastic or 6 buttons. I’m grateful for every person who’s bought that 40p metre, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have survived without you, but this might be time that I get to put my entrepreneurial and creative hats back on.

Retail is an ever fluid market, and the times, they are a changing. I think the future of retail may be in shared spaces, people working together to have the presence and knowledge each business needs to survive. I would love to be part of something like that in Exeter, and be as present in the fight for supporting Independent business in Exeter as I’ve ever been.

Please get in touch if you have any ideas, spaces for rent, wholesale opportunities or just want a chat, I’d love to hear from you on mattie@bunyipcraft.com or in the shop… for a while longer!

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Exeter Trails

We can hardly believe Exeter Trails will be 3 years old this year! If you’re still not up to date with exactly what Exeter Trails is, here’s a brief overview.

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Exeter Trails was a project launched in July 2013, and centres around 5 maps which depict over 100 independent businesses from the local area. The project was spearheaded by Bunyip’s Mattie, alongside traders and indie shopping enthusiasts from Cafe@36, The Real Food Store, Penny’s Recipes and No Guts No Glory. The maps cover 5 categories: Creativity, Food Glorious Food, Cafe Culture, Activities & Hobbies and Bygones & Boutiques.

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The purpose of trails is obvious: getting as many people as possible to see the amazing array of shopping that Exeter has to offer if you step off the high street. Colourful cafes and beautiful boutiques are in abundance here – you just need to have the tools to find them. Walking through Exeter City Centre can sometimes feel like walking through any other town centre, but what sets us apart from everyone else are the home grown start ups, the local people selling what they love and the hidden gems down the back streets. The trails team believed (and still do!) that if only customers could find these shops, they’d love them.

The success of trails has been wonderful to see, and in the 3 years since then the maps have been updated and reprinted, and gone through an online revamp to a shiny new website. You can still grab the physical maps, with artwork designed by awesome local artist Philip Harris (check out more of his illustrations here) from all over the City – in the independent shops themselves, as well as in the Tourist Information Centre and Exeter Library.

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You can also download all 5 maps from the website, and browse through all of the independent businesses featured. If you own an indie business locally, make sure that your page is up to date! You can claim your business and in turn edit your page, make it as beautiful as possible and even upload events and news. If you’re not sure how to do this, pop an email over to helloexetertrails@gmail.com. Let’s utilise this wonderful project, and fingers crossed for even more people finding all of Exeter’s fantastic independent offerings in the future.