In the last few years, we’ve witnessed drastic changes in the retail industry. However, the general consensus is that a shake-up was most certainly needed; the high street was starting to look like a relic of a bygone era as it was clear that traditional retail had lost its touch. The warm welcome was no longer there, but the uninformed and uninterested sales assistants seemed to have multiplied. And, to make up for their lack of product knowledge, they’d adopt pushy and uncomforting sales tactics.
The good news is that there’s a renaissance currently underway, with a move from hustle-and-too-much-bustle areas into small communities offering a genuinely enjoyable experience. Retail’s future is looking bright, as a result thanks to this reinvigorated approach that emphasises first-class service within a galvanised community. In parts of the country, you can find this modern shopkeeping experience. But, in our totally biased opinion, there’s nowhere better than the market village of Goring, which is where our store is based. With its offering of independent businesses, such as grocery stores, beauty and wellness salons, quaint hotels, and more, Goring’s has an all-encompassing lifestyle appeal.
“We are proud that we have chosen a rural village that’s held in as high regard as a major city for our first stand-alone store. It’s real and it suits us,” explains co-founder Charlotte. The shop opened last year and, despite it being a turbulent first year for obvious reasons, there was a milestone in that it neatly marked five years of being in business. Since then, it’s been a joyous experience that both founders have cherished dearly. “We’ve learned that running a shop is the best part of running a business, there’s nothing like meeting your customers in real life,” she adds.
Every day, either Adam or Charlotte are on the shop floor fulfilling their duties as modern shopkeepers; greeting customers, offering them coffee, and giving them insights into their world and how TWC can become part of the customer’s world, too. “The fact that as the owners and designers of our brand, we know all there is to know about each product, from fabric to factory to cut and finishing. That's our USP in many ways and we don't know of any other menswear stores that can offer that level of service and knowledge,” says Charlotte.
Taking it one step further, Adam and Charlotte are now offering a personal shopping service. “By offering private appointments we aim to help them feel at ease and take their time to try items from our collection. Going into a menswear store can be very intimidating for many people but we hope to offer a friendly service where it's really about conversation, maybe a drink, and some nibbles in a non-pressurised environment.” Shopping for men can be a daunting task, which is maybe one of the reasons why online shopping has become so popular, but the experience is no match for real life.
To add another dimension to the customer’s shopping experience and enrich their lives in other ways, Adam and Charlotte have curated a range of lifestyle goods that complement their main offering. There’s a selection of vinyl records – from Fatboy Slim to Fleetwood Mac – that are all Adam’s favourites and could well be yours, too. Adam also has his entire archive of vintage militaria and workwear that he’s collected over a period of decades, and many items are for sale. There’s also a range of homeware goods, plus books, stationery and more. “We are, in essence, a lifestyle brand so we wanted to make our first independent retail store follow those principles,” explains Charlotte.
Within a short distance from the shop, there’s a handful of brilliant stores and hotels all of which are independently owned. “We are extremely fortunate in Goring to be among such great company,” says Charlotte. One example is Miller of Mansfield, which sees itself as a ‘modern inn’. Part pub and part hotel, it provides a cosy stay with an amazingly stocked cellar that can send you off to sleep comfortably. It’s also long overdue a Michellin Star if you needed another reason to stay over.
Elsewhere, there’s Virgo. “They offer the best facial I’ve ever experienced. In fact, all of their treatments are dreamy,” approves Charlotte. From facials to light therapy and everything in between, there’s something to make you feel that extra bit special. Meanwhile, the entire experience aims to appeal to all five of your senses which ensures that you leave feeling like a new person in every department. On Goring, founder Sarah Virgo says, “I would say our community is very inclusive. It’s a small village with a big heart! I take pride in the fact that the community comes together to work hard, to play hard, and to support one another, we have always been overwhelmed with positivity and support.”
Moving from facial goods to farm goods, the Goring Grocer is one of the village’s most popular attractions that’s well equipped to fuel you for a day of shopping and exploring. “They make so many amazingly tasty and creative hot dishes, pastries, and salads using the freshest ingredients. It's a beautifully curated shop with new and interesting produce to learn about every time we visit,” says Charlotte. Being able to inform customers to make better buying decisions is a theme in Goring, as it’s something that Adam and Charlotte care about deeply. “We take pride in offering good service, excellent, interesting food, and being different from Supermarkets,” adds owner Caroline Pierrepont, who’s an inextricable part of Goring’s charming community.
“Being in a place like Goring reminds us to take time and to not rush the process,” says Charlotte. “We are a retailer now, of course, but more than that we are a place where you can come and to learn about our brand, how and why we create our pieces. Then, there’s our neighbours who are great. We all offer something different but everything complements each other and that adds so much to our little community.”
The Workers Club, 3 High St, Goring, Reading RG8 9AT