Me & My Shop: Harp Ceramics
Consider any glamorous entrance and you will generally think of a beautifully tiled space that you can clatter your heels along. Why do we all obsess about carpets and laminate floors when the humble, nay ancient art of tiling is one of the most practical and exciting floor coverings we have?!
Sharon Jackson runs the fantastically bulging shop of delights; Harp Ceramics in Colne, Lancashire. A door on the corner flanked by towers of mosaic opens into a surprisingly large shop that boasts quite simply the best collection of tiles you will find in the area. With everything you can imagine from glossy ceramics, matt printed terracotta, jewel-like glass and even stainless steel mosaics there is quite simply something to suit all tastes. There is a common misconception that independent shops like this carry lines that demand a weighty price tag but its not the case, in fact at Harp Ceramics your money will go much further than in most of the well known DIY warehouses, a fact that keeps people coming back!
The biggest thing you will notice in this shop is the smile on proprietor Sharon’s face, gleaming to greet each person who walks through the door, this is a shop built on experience. With a husband as a tiler and years of travelling across Europe (Valencia was Sharon’s favourite) to learn everything there is to know about tiles and tiling you don’t just come here for the look but also for the advice too. Whether you need to know about the best adhesive to use or how to get a particular style, Sharon will effervesce with advice.
I had a great chat (and a strong brew) with Sharon:
1) Why and when did you start your ‘shop’, how long has it been running?
We’re just celebrating our 5th birthday! How time flies, we moved premises from the shop next door because this is a better more practical space for us but yes the business has been running for 5 years. I think it was up and running in our brains (Sharon and husband Paul) for a couple of years before that though! The amount of research we did before hand gave us a great wealth of experience.
2) Have you changed what you sell over the past year?
With changing technology and trends there is always something new to deal with. We try and give people what they want but will also keep up to date with the very latest advances in the world of tiling. The latest range from Laura Ashley for example has been popular because of the vintage style that everyone seems to be looking for.
3) In terms of retail and dealing directly with the public what has been your biggest surprise?
I’ve worked in retail management for a number of years so that side of things was already under my belt but dealing with our trade customers is great, the blokes that come in first thing ahead of their days work are always chipper and fun. Admittedly they do question my tiling knowledge sometimes but I know my stuff so they get as good as they give!
4) Do you have a style ethos in your shop or a particular style that you are trying to portray?
I’d love to say yes but with so many ranges things can get excitedly full in here. I always try and create little zones of tiling to demonstrate how tiles can be used best but we do little mock-ups of tile setups if we don’t have it on a proper display.
5) Where do you get your inspiration for the styling of your shop?
The tiles pretty much dictate the style of the shop but we do visit other shops to see how others do things. Inspiration comes from funny places but practicality is also a big factor because of course the tiles are generally speaking very fragile.
6) Is there a business in the same sector as yours that you aspire to be like? for example, is there another shop that inspires the way you present your shop?
We started our shop to offer something different and to fill the gap in the market for someone selling tiles with the knowledge and expertise and the passion not simply a warehouse stacking it high and selling it cheap! Expertise saves money in our experience and nobody can deny a bargain.
Harp Ceramics is at 263 North Valley Road Colne, Lancashire BB8 9DR
you can call them on: 01282 870968