Hello there, my name is Angus and I am the checkout chick at the front desk when you come into the shop.
I don’t really make anything, but some of the generic shop sales will go under my name (ie the made by Angus) on the daily posts.
I do however like making and running shops. For me Highlands Handmade is my hobby. I genuinely like seeing all the clever things that people make. I like seeing customers wander around the store and discover things they have never seen or thought about before – and best of all is when they like something enough to buy it and take it home or give it to a loved one, friend or family member because they have liked it so much themselves they want to share it.
I also like trying to come up with what else can we do next. My background is retail and computers but I didn’t think many people would find a computer shop in Moss Vale all that interesting so back in 2015 when I bought the building I put a post up on Facebook asking what local people would like (my vote was for a Sushi train) and the main response was a gift shop and so Highlands Handmade was born. I’d actually had the idea for Highlands Handmade for many years, but it is always polite to ask 🙂
Retail is increasingly quite a hard way to make a living – there are of course much harder ways – but with all the massive stores like K-mart and Target, and the big centres like Westfield it’s hard to stand out – let alone compete with all the online shops like Amazon out there. I wanted something a bit different that would make sense in Moss Vale. I’ve always liked bookshops as well, but they are also slowly dying out as people spend more time on iphones and ipads.
I also wanted a store that served the local community and gave back in some way. Many years ago when I was doing a hot lap of Australia in a campervan I had made I spent a lot of time at Markets and always came away amazed at all the different things that I saw and most importantly the passion and stories behind them and the connection with the people who made these interesting items. I love the idea of Australian made and seeing the creativity that all these small marketplace people had was invigorating. I always thought that there should be a permanent shop somewhere selling all these items and helping tell the story of all the makers.
Note: Every handmade item has a real story and a real person behind it. It would be awesome if you took a photo of the item you bought and emailed it to the maker and let them know where it is going next so they can see what happens next in the items journey. Imagine spending hours making something then putting it out into the world and hoping someone else likes it. Think how cool it would be if that person then sent you a message saying what was happening with it next. A lot of our items end up all around the world!
I’ve also always liked Markets – not sure why – more all the people, the wheeling and dealing, and the different things they sell. Always fun poking through other peoples things. Anyway – out of all that Highlands Handmade was born and so far so good, AND because I feel the store belongs to all of us and is part of the community I also openly publish all of our stats which is a little bit different and hopefully you find interesting.
We have on average a bit over 200 makers, 450 stalls (ie cubes) and around 5,000 to 6,000 items. We sell on average around $10,000 of items per month or roughly 1,000 things. The finger-in-the-air goal when I opened the shop in June 2016 (had to make up something to tell the bank to get EFTPOS facilities) was to do $100,000 in local sales and we hit that target in our first 9 months of opening. Almost all of the money stays in the area other than the cost of the materials depending on where they are bought. Every day we post a list and pictures of everything we sell. Think of that – $100,000 back into local peoples pockets and they can keep funding what is essentially their hobby and joy in life. All pretty cool I think.
My favorite thing about the shop today is all the people who drop in and share their stories. I love that we have a 5 year old (now turned 6) and a 90 year old (now turned 91) who both have an outlet for their creativity. I love that the store is fulfilling its purpose of being a place for all the creative people in the area, and allowing locals to buy locally Australian made. It has turned into a real community. It’s all awesome.
There is of course much more to my story and the shops but both are ever evolving.
If you would like to be part of it – maker or customer – drop in and say hello. You are always welcome.
Angus can be contacted in the shop or phone (02) 4869 3698 or email firstname.lastname@example.org