Craft Focus - April/May 2023 (Issue 96)

86 Sharing the stationery love Sarah Laker is the self-confessed Chief Stationery Geek of Stationery Supplies. With shops in Wilmslow and Marple as well as taking on the mammoth task of overseeing National Stationery Week, she’s certainly got her hands full! Tell us a bit about Stationery Supplies, when did the first shop open and by why? Back in 2005 I decided to move on from my career in nursing and follow my love of stationery and so, Stationery Supplies was born! I had no business experience, no idea what to do so I learned on the job: buying, selling, accounting, the merchandise and the 101 other things you need to do as a retailer. It’s now been 18 years and I’ve never looked back. When 2020 came around and most people were baking banana bread or taking up hobbies they’d always wanted to, I decided to realise my dream of a second shop. I bought an existing stationery business that was up for sale due to retirement and revamped it with my style. My eldest daughter is now working for me with a job title of ‘Stationer-in-Training’! What’s special about your location? Both my shops are slightly outside the designated town centres, which is perfect as they’re on roads with houses, independent retail shops and businesses. This is a great mix of community and business which I feel is very beneficial. We also have customer parking behind both shops which is such an asset. How has business been since the Covid restrictions lifted? Post-covid there was a lot of talk about ‘returning to normal’ but I’m not sure what that means anymore. The past three years have been such a rollercoaster bringing the pandemic, the war in Ukraine (which brought about a paper shortage) and the cost-of-living crisis to our door which has meant that we’ve needed to adapt how and what we sell. It also means that we’ve seen a resurgence of customers wanting to support local businesses and the community around them. Have you seen a new type of customer? There are many people who now work from home and without access to their office ‘stationery cupboard’ these customers are turning to their local shops. Often they’re looking for stylish or colourful options rather than the traditional office