Alex Jenkins heads to Arundel to a shop that has Christmas all wrapped up and seems to have found the recipe for success.
It is said if you make it to the top floor you have achieved great success in the business world.
So Holly and Andy Heggadon have evidently made it as they have slowly and surely taken over the stunning Grade II listed Victorian building at 18 Tarrant Street, Arundel.
Sparks Yard originally started as a small gift shop after Holly decided she no longer wanted to be a surveyor in London.
Her father Geoff Thorpe owned the beautiful building in Tarrant Street, running his architect firm Thorpe Architecture from the site.
To help his daughter out he said she could have the ground floor for her project.
Yet what started as a small shop has grown a great deal in the 11 years it has been open and has become an award-winning lifestyle destination shop specialising in contemporary gifts, homeware and cookware.
So much so that husband Andy, previously a farmer, gave up his job to join his wife in the successful venture that saw it push the architect firm off the second floor as well.
Now they have taken the business to the next level, taking over the third and final floor of the building.
It is on this top level that the shop now boasts an American inspired café called The Loft.
“We thought about it for a long time what we could call it but we felt it needed its own brand,” explains Andy as he shows me around this new addition.
Combining their love of good food with their passion for great design, the couple spent several months planning and overseeing every detail of this exciting project.
With deep blue walls and copper lighting set in a big, bright and airy space, plenty of natural materials, with splashes of funky, modern design thrown in, and magnificent rooftop views, The Loft really does have the wow factor.
The detail and overall design have been well thought-out ensuring it is somewhere for everyone, whether it’s customers after a family-friendly lunch, leisurely brunch with friends or simply a quick coffee while they shop.
“There’s everything from a lift and spacious baby-changing facilities to free WiFi and plenty of power-points for business lunches,” explains Andy.
“Not to mention a great menu to keep the little ones happy.”
Children’s meals are even served on Frisbees so that the ‘plate’ can be taken home and used as a toy.
It is clear that with a young son of their own and a new baby girl, Holly and Andy know only too well the importance of making families feel welcome.
“The little people are as important to us as the big people,” agrees Holly.
Kids and grown-ups alike are sure to be impressed with the American-style menu and when I visit I cannot resist the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.
So why choose this type of food?
“Holly’s parents had a holiday home in Florida Keys and we still holiday there when we can,” explains Andy.
“We have both spent a lot of time in America over the years and we love the food,” adds Holly.
“The fresh and healthy stuff, as well as some of the naughty bits.
“We wanted our menu to showcase and celebrate good American eating, so we’ve got proper hamburgers, delicious salads, and Andy’s personal favourite, a killer club sandwich.”
To help get The Loft off the ground, the Heggadons applied for a ‘Be the Business’ grant from West Sussex County Council.
The successful application saw an injection of £30,000 to help fund the employment of two apprentices as well as fit out the kitchen.
To ensure there is a strong link between the café and the shop, visitors are able to purchase certain food items from the shop floor below – such as pop tarts, peanut butter and other American classics.
Recipes for various items on the menu can be found in the cookbooks on the second floor, plates used in the café are for sale, and some of the amazing café furnishings are also available to buy downstairs.
It is this ability to weave all parts of the business together that has seen Sparks Yard, and now The Loft, become the ‘go to’ place for shopping and gift-buying.
“We go buying as much as we can and a lot of suppliers come to us,” explains Andy as I comment on the variety of stock laid out across the shop floors.
“We have in excess of 200 suppliers and we are always looking for new suppliers.
“We are always looking to do something different.”
Christmas is an important time for the business as Sparks Yard really goes to town, shutting the shop for two days to get it looking ship shape.
“We take the opportunity to restock the shop, create new areas and introduce plenty of new lines,” explains Andy as he remarks how important it is to get into the Christmas spirit.
With a fantastic menu, beautiful setting and the magic Sparks Yard touch, this business has all the right ingredients to be a recipe for success.
For more information, visit www.sparksyard.com
December 9, 2014 Business and Investments