Archie & Vanessa Murray on the re-fit at The Square, Kelso.
Until just a few weeks ago the A Hume shop that faces south onto the Square in Kelso has stood largely unchanged since 1929. The exterior still wore the same racing green paint first chosen when Archie’s grandfather acquired the premises shortly after the previous occupants, The Bank of Glasgow, shut its doors for the final time.
Inside and out there had been licks of paint, new lighting and the occasional new fitting here and there but if Archie’s Grandfather, Arch, or his own father Jock had walked in the door they’d see very little change.
And all this is good. We value the traditions and the heritage, it’s the foundation on which we build and move forward. But lately Archie was beginning to feel that maybe the moving forward bit was lacking.
One of the aspects that Archie enjoyed most about opening the new shop in the Horsemarket, Kelso at the tail end of 2012 was the creative freedom to design the interior, to start from scratch, displaying the clothes and welcoming customers in a way that reflects A Hume now.
It was a hugely gratifying process and the overwhelmingly positive reception the new shop received gave Archie confidence, and pause for thought.
“Each time I walked back from the Horsemarket to The Square I became more aware of the limitations of the original shop. For people who’d always shopped there it was reliable, a comfort but I was also beginning to see it through new eyes – as someone visiting the shop for the first time might.’
‘I began to wonder if there was a way to bring together the traditions we all value with the bright, welcoming customer friendly feel we’d created at Horsemarket.”
For a long time Archie kept his thoughts to himself – messing with the past is a big step and Archie was aware that a lot of loyal, valued customers might have reservations about potential changes. Even the phrase ‘re-fit’ had the potential to alienate A Hume’s most long-standing customers – people Archie considered his friends, that he had known his whole life.
Luckily keeping his thoughts to himself can only last so long with Archie and it wasn’t long before he began to share his thoughts aloud. Discussions developed and it became clear that if there were to be changes then Vanessa Murray, from A Hume Ladieswear was the woman to lead the re-design.
Before joining A Hume, Vanessa had a successful background in interior design, working with exclusive interior designer Felicity Louden of The Private House in Oxfordshire. Vanessa’s source book is an A-Z of Homes & Gardens favourites and her ability to combine salvaged gems and one off vintage pieces is second to none.
“When Archie began talking about the feel he wanted for the A Hume shop in The Square I felt I understood exactly what he was after. We needed to create a traditional, long lasting design that could outlast fads or trends. I jumped at the chance to be involved.”
Using mood boards and Pinterest to evolve her plans and develop ideas with Archie, Vanessa created the new design.
Bringing light into the heart of the shop was an important criteria and Vanessa achieved this by subtly unboxing the windows. It’s a small alteration, not immediately noticeable, but one that has a transformative effect. Specialist retail lighting that mimics daylight has also been discreetly installed to enhance the quality of light and customers can now browse with ease without having to wander to the front of the shop to see items in the daylight.
Throughout the shop Vanessa has managed to harmoniously blend the old and the new in a way that has customers wondering. She spent a lot of time sourcing antique and vintage finds to achieve exactly the right look.
“When it came to the level change I wanted something to distinguish the two areas, a focal point to draw the eye into the shop – but not something that yelled ‘Look at me!’ it needed to be a piece that would look as though it had always been there. When James Walker at Focal Point Furniture showed me the oak banister I knew we’d found our centerpiece. Everything else went around this.”
“I love it when people come in and say, ‘I’m so glad you kept this old banister.’ It’s exactly what I hoped might happen.”
Vanessa spent a lot of time choosing the three Farrow & Ball paints and eventually settled on Old White for the main walls, Matchstick for the slatted display walls and Oxford Stone for the woodwork. She chose them specifically to compliment the product range and because they bring interest without competing with the product.
Thankfully deciding which tradesmen to employ to do all the hard graft was an easy decision. Archie, and his Dad have used the same team for the past 43 years.
Bryan Cassie and his team of highly skilled joiners worked solidly during the two weeks the shop was closed. They crafted the bespoke pieces such as the oval display table in their workshop and honed every detail to a perfect finish. The whole team; Graham Oliver, the plumber, Scott Purves, the electrician, Brian Tait, the painter, and James Walker who refurbished the floor, all worked without end to make sure the shop was completed on time.
It was an incredible feat of co-ordination, effort and skill and we’re enormously grateful for their dedication and hard work.
In fact there isn’t a member of the team who didn’t contribute. Our wonderful in-house seamstresses Jacquie Nairn and Rosie MacDonald made the grand, tweed curtains for the new changing rooms from tweed cloth Vanessa sourced from local supplier Lovat Mill. They grafted from breakfast to close on a single Saturday to ensure the curtains were completed on time.
On Sunday before we re-opened the entire team was in for the better part of the day placing stock and making sure every detail was right. It was a huge task, masterminded by Chris Whitlock from A Hume menswear.
The next day, we were all a little nervous of the public reaction to the changes but we’re delighted to say that the response has been overwhelmingly positive and we’d like to thank all our customers for their continued support and kind comments.
Please show your appreciation for the hard work of all those who made the re-fit such as success by using the social buttons to ‘Like’ and ‘Share.’