Local producers in the spotlight at revamped Heatherslaw gift shop
Locally-produced beer, gin and foodstuffs plus gifts and homewares are among the new attractions at the refurbished gift shop at Heatherslaw Cornmill on Ford & Etal Estates.
The changes have been made by former fashion journalist and stylist Jane Musgrave, who has been buyer-manager of the long-established shop since February.
Using the visual flair developed in her former career, she has redecorated the shop, had new lights installed and brought in fresh display furniture to give the space a fresh contemporary feel that still complements the working Victorian corn mill it is part of.
“I have been really encouraged by the many positive comments I have received since the season started,” Jane said. “The additive-free flours and muesli produced by the Heatherslaw Cornmill have been consistent best-sellers over the years, so it seemed natural to try and source more produce from local businesses.
“People are saying they haven’t seen the things we have anywhere else locally, which is just what I want to hear. Locally-produced things make perfect souvenirs and are wonderful gifts.”
One of the first things Jane did on taking on her new role was to apply for a licence to sell alcohol. With that now in place, gift packs of beer brewed on the Ford & Etal Estates by Cheviot Brewery are flying off the shelves.
Also selling well is Hadrian’s Wall gin and award-winning marmalades, jam and preserves from The Old Dairy in Ford.
Jane admits: “Buying for the shop has been a steep learning curve, so thank heavens for my colleagues Jill Darrie and Margaret Storm, long-standing staff who know our customers and who have been a wealth of information. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Outside the giftshop, under her maiden name of Jane Eastoe, Etal resident Musgrave is a prolific author and has written more than 25 non-fiction books on subjects as varied as herbs, Victorian pharmacies, keeping hens and the Queen’s wardrobe. She has a small selection of her three most recent books: Vintage Roses, Peonies and Tulips, published by Pavilion, in the shop, so visitors buying a copy can have it signed on the spot by the author on the days she is working.