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Here are all the posts in our Forum/Blog on the topic of Emma Plus: our shop (building/access)...

karen Docwra    Thursday 19 January 2017 at 09:44

 Post #490 



 
Subject: daughters wedding

 
Hi i am looking for a special outfit for my daughters wedding in April so i was going to pop in and look at your clothes is that still possible as have been told that you are no longer in Brighton is this true please

 

 Emma    Monday 30 January 2017 at 10:59

 
Hi Karen,

Congratulations on your great news! Yes, I'm sorry to report that Emma Plus closed down at the beginning of September last year.

I can recommend Beige Plus as the nearest walk-in shop to find designer plus-size clothes, or, if you would like to look online, both Beige and a company called Navabi provide lovely clothes.

I hope all goes well with the happy event!

 

Alisha Cesa    Sunday 11 December 2016 at 22:26

 Post #489 



 
Subject: Plus Size Clothing in Sussex

 
Hi All ,

I need some help, I have got to the final of the Miss British Beauty Curve, and I will be the candidate to represent Sussex. I was so sad to see Emma plus going as it would of been an ideal store for me to get my gowns from.

I was wondering if anyone knew of any sort of companies local to Sussex that would be willing to sponsor me for this pageant. What I want to leave as a message is that Plus size is equal and that everyone should be happy in their own skin , a number on a bit of clothing shouldn't outshine you.

So if anyone could help me that would be fantastic.

 

 Emma    Monday 12 December 2016 at 23:38

 
Hi Alisha,
Congratulations in getting into the pageant! I do hope that you do really well!
There is a marvelous company that does the most fabulous desinger-eveningwear, and it's called Dynasty.
Their website is http://www.dynastyuk.co.uk/.
I can't emphasise enough how classy their clothing is: I believe that if they do lend you something, you will look a million dollars in it. Their size range is quite comprehensive, as well. I don't know what size you wear, but they are sure to have something for you.

 

 Nikita    Monday 08 May 2017 at 08:37

 
Well, you can check

 

Emma    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:18

 Post #479 



 
Subject: Closing Down

This is the saddest post imaginable: we are going to close down.

The trade in European designer fashions suffered a severe shock this summer, and the resulting tsunami hit Emma Plus in such a way that it has been fatally damaged-we have had to close down.

I have owned this shop for over 22 years, and I can honestly say that I have had the very best of times. I've loved the gorgeous fashion, I've loved the camaraderie of working with such wonderful colleagues, I've loved working in the North Laine area of Brighton-surely one of the best places in the country in which to have an independent business. But most of all, I have loved my lovely, gorgeous, stylish, generous, loyal and beautiful customers.

I really do wish you all the best, and hope that you will continue to find the glamourous, stylish and beautiful fashion that you deserve.

 

 Mary    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:20

 
I am so sorry to hear this news. I have loved coming to shop with you because you always knew your stock and gave us a wonderful shopping experience which I especially appreciated as shopping for clothes is often a very depressing experience for us bigger girls! I am particularly disappointed as my eldest son is getting married next July and I was relying on you to help me find something sensational to wear....

I will not be able to come and say goodbye as we will be on holiday in Malta but I wish you all the very best

Kind regards

Mary

 

 Sara    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:20

 
This is very sad news.
I have enjoyed my visits to Brighton to see you.
All the best for the future
Thank you for all your lovely clothes
Sara

 

 Gladys    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:21

 
Hello Emma and team,
How sad am I. Emma plus closing will be such a loss. What are we non-zero sized ladies who like fashion and curves going to do now. I'm not going back to Eastex and Evans :-( I would like to thank you for bringing so many wonderful styles and fun to fashion, it has always been a pleasure shopping with you and I would like to wish you the best of luck for the future.
Best wishes Gladys

 

 Finola    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:22

 
Oh no!!!!!
Emma we are so sorry to hear this. You have changed our lives and helped us both to feel and think differently about our bodies and what we wear. You've really helped to boost confidence and a whole lot more.. We're away at the moment so can't come to see you yet- not just to see what clothes there may be left but to give you all a huge hug and to commiserate with you. We still can't believe it.

If there's anything we can do to help please let us know.

Love

Finola and Liz xxxx (Worthing)

 

 Gill    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:23

 
Dear Emma,

Just wanted to say how much we are all going to miss coming to Emma Plus, and to say a big thank you to you and all your delightful colleagues who have provided myself and numerous customers over these years with such wonderful stylish clothes.
It was always a real pleasure to come to your shop because customers were always greeted by yourself or other members of your team with a genuine warm hearted welcome, followed by a cheery offer of a cup of tea/coffee or cold drink. It always felt as though I was popping in to friends for a cuppa and a chat while trying on some lovely clothes. Everyone was always attentive and helpful in searching something for me to wear, or suggesting I might like to try a different style or another colour other than blue, its thanks to you I now wear trousers!

I am going on holiday tomorrow returning on the 23rd, so unfortunately will not be able to come in to say goodbye.
I wish you and your colleagues good health, much happiness and joy for the future. Thank you once again for providing Brighton with such a special place to shop.

Kind regards,

Gill

 

 Jessamy    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:23

 
Such sad news. I only get to Brighton
now and again but love coming
to see your beautiful clothes.

I have a trip planned at the end of
October but I cannot get before.

Good luck with both your futures

Jessamy

 

 rosemary    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:25

 
Hi Emma

Well, that was a real curve ball! What an absolutely soul-destroying situation and you must be gutted at having to wind things up.

On a personal note, let me just say that you and the team have given me fantastic service and styling over the past 10 years – I really don’t know what I’m going to do without you.

I am not sure what I am doing Bank Holiday weekend, if I am going to be around, I will definitely let you know and pop in. I will try and get down before then, though, to say a proper goodbye.

Hope to see you soon.

xxx

Kind regards

 

 Sharon    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:28

 
Oh Emma, I'm so sad to hear that not just because you run an amazing shop, but because I know you're so passionate about the plus size fashion industry.

 

 Sue    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:50

 
Dear Emma,

I am so sorry that you are closing after all this time......I can still remember when you worked there before you owned it!!! I have enjoyed very much being a customer, there was always a warm welcome at Emma Plus. You and all your staff have also always been helpful and caring, you will be sadly missed by your customers. I am in France at the moment, so I am sad that I won't be able to enjoy your closing down sale, but "c'est la vie".

I would like to wish you all the luck in the world for the future, wherever and whatever that holds for you.

All the best,

Sue x

 

 Alison    Friday 09 September 2016 at 17:58

 
So sorry to hear this, have really valued my trips to Brighton over the years. And how on earth can I be expected to buy trousers without Kim's advice?

Such a shame!

Wishing you all the best for the future

Alison

 

 susan    Saturday 10 September 2016 at 10:20

 
Dear Emma

I was so sorry to hear you are closing – but feel very fortunate that you have given us all the chance to purchase some beautiful clothes over the years – with your advice and that from your staff.

I hope to get over for one last visit before 22nd September.

With best wishes to you all for whatever the future holds from Susan

 

 Nicola    Saturday 10 September 2016 at 22:25

 
Emma

What can I say, I am likewise devastated to hear the news that you are closing down. After 20 years shopping at Emma Plus I have come to think of you all as friends and at this moment I am at a loss of what more to say.

Nicola

 

 Kim P    Sunday 11 September 2016 at 11:45

 
I can only echo the sentiments already posted. Such a shame it has come to an end but I'm sure it was not a decision that would be taken lightly. I really hope everyone manages to fix themselves up a new position somewhere. Very sad times.

 

 Kate    Monday 12 September 2016 at 10:05

 
Dear Emma, I am so very sorry to hear this news.  Although my move up to Lincolnshire has prevented my regular shopping trips, I will always remember them with great fondness.  You and your staff were always so very kind and helpful and I have been complimented many times on the clothes that I purchased from you. 

I wish you well in whatever challenge you decide to tackle next.

 

 Janet    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:53

 
Dear Emma,

I can't tell you how sad I am. You have been my favourite shop for so many years and helped me out so many times when I have been uncertain as to what to buy. Indeed, when I was living in Sussex, it was like having a personal shopping team. You and your staff, with your excellent alterations service made clothes buying a pleasure. 

Of course, it hasn't been so easy to get to you since I moved to Suffolk. I know I managed a few visits in the early days but they have become more infrequent and I confess, I haven't found anywhere I like nearly as much here.

These are uncertain times and I wish you well in whatever venture you turn your hand to.

Do keep in touch, and if you are this way ( near Bury St Edmunds, another town which would benefit from a shop like yours)look me up. It would be lovely to see you.

All good wishes for the future.

 

 Annie    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:55

 
Dear Emma

I can't tell you how sorry I am that you are finding it necessary to close the business that I know has been very close to your heart.

You were one of the last links I have with mum so you will be missed on her account as well as for the lovely outfits you have provided for me over many years.  I have to say that I don't know where I will go now for special occasion wear that will match your flare for design and colour.

with very fond regards

 

 Pam    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:57

 
I'm so sorry to hear the shop's closing down. Such beautiful clothes and lovely staff.

Wishing you all good luck for the future.

Pam

Xx

 

 Julia    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:58

 
Really sorry to read your news.  Its always been such a delight coming 

into your shop and being made to feel really special.

 

Good luck in the future to you and your colleagues

 

 

Julia

 

 Jenny    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:59

 
That's really sad news- been great to find those special items and be treated as completely normal and in fact spoilt- an usual experience for us plus size ladies.

Whatever you do next, wish you much happiness and success - you will be missed

Jenny 

 

 Sid    Monday 12 September 2016 at 14:00

 
Hi Emma,

 

I was shocked and then saddened to read your email. I know I haven't been in as much of late as I've not had as much work and therefore less disposable to buy lovely clothes. I'm coming to Brighton next Tuesday for several reasons, so I'll pop in then. It's the end of an era though. Very sad news.

 

 

 Kathy    Saturday 17 September 2016 at 13:23

 
Hi
Passed the store Saturday night after the theatre. Saw the sign...
Don't know what to make of it...but I do know you have done so much for women like me Your style,courage and good advice.
Brighton will be a lesser place with out Emma plus As for me. You folks were a large part of my life for so long...
I still have some of the pieces I bought from you...

 

 Ronnie    Wednesday 21 September 2016 at 14:44

 
Emma,  I walked to work past your shop this morning and got a dreadful shock.  I am sorry to hear this devastating news, not only for me (woe is me, what am I going to do for trousers?) but for you and your team who have always been sooo understanding and compassionate and accommodating towards those of us with non-standard body shapes!!!  This is a catastrophe for you, us and for Brighton as a whole, frankly. I am going to miss you and your team in a chronic and fundamental way.  I don't know why this closure has happened, but is there any chance of you setting up somewhere else or starting a mail service?  And if so, would the services of Denisa still be available?  I literally don't know what I'll do with myself and my big fat bum otherwise!  Are you yourself bearing up-ish?  Thinking of you lots, Ronnie. 

 

 Janet Taylor    Wednesday 21 September 2016 at 22:28

 
Emma, I did send an email to you. Not sure if you got it but I am so sorry to hear your news. I have shopped with you for many years,as you know. Although my visits are less frequent since we have moved away I miss the wonderful selection and service you provided. You and all your staff have always been so helpful and your clothes made me feel so much more confident.Your alterations service was second to none.So disappointed but always hope your links with Suffolk will encourage you to open somewhere here in time!
All the best Janetxx

 

Emma    Thursday 03 March 2016 at 18:08

 Post #468 



 
Subject: Shoptiques.

For those of your who have been awaiting this news with bated breath, I can announce that we are officially now selling online.

It's quite odd to look at our clothes in the Shoptiques format-they have a host of rules that are necessary to make their website, which encompasses thousands of small boutiques, look cohesive and simple. We've had to carefully photograph our clothes from certain angles (front, side and back, naturally), crop the backgrounds off, remove extraneous accessories (it almost goes against my religion to picture a top without a scarf or necklace, for instance), and -worst of all-crop off part of our model's beautiful face. However, I think that the whole thing has been more than worth it.

We will be adding more and more products to our little shop as the weeks go by, and I hope that we will be able to offer a great service to those customers of ours who, either by preference or necessity, wish to buy their fashions online.

Our address within Shoptiques is: www.emmaplusonline.com

 

Emma    Monday 22 February 2016 at 08:53

 Post #467 



 
Subject: Shoptiques

The model has been recruited, the stock has been selected. Our shop has been turned into a part -time photographic studio. The photos have been taken, selected and edited. We are now on the starting block for a new way of trading.

I've been on record for years as having reservations about selling online -there are a number of disadvantages. In my opinion, there is simply no comparison with actually being able to come into a fashion shop, try everything on, and make an informed choice as to what to by.

''Being able to come into a fashion shop '' is a bit of a rub. Not everyone, at every time, is able to come into our little shop, here on the south coast of England. For these people, buying online is not a choice, but a necessity.

However, there has been an enormous growth in the other kind of online shopping -people who DO choose to shop this way, simply because they enjoy it. Sitting at home, (perhaps furtively ) at work, or sipping coffee in a café, browsing the Internet for something gorgeous for the weekend -it's the modern way of life.

Luckily, many of my initial objections to selling online appear to have been met by the American website, Shoptiques. It's a company that really knows it's stuff. It deals exclusively with small boutiques like ourselves, and provides the practical solutions that allow us to maintain the exclusivity, quality and choice that we feel is so important.

I'm very excited about it, and really hope that it works for us. Diversity and equality of opportunity in the world of fashion is something that we are passionate about. Shoptiques should help us enable more women access to better and more fitting fashion, no matter where they are, or how they choose to shop.

I will keep you posted as to when we go live!

 

Emma    Friday 05 February 2016 at 20:05

 Post #466 



 
Subject: Lighting up Church Street

If any of our locally -based customers were passing by our shop either today or over the weekend, they may have a bit of a surprise by what is in our window.

A company specialising in transparent LED screens, SIS Digital, has lent us the use of one of their amazing screens at the moment.

It is a fantastic way to showcase a store, and I'm certain that it's the future of store display.

It looks beautiful by day, but after dark it looks quite magical. ....

 

Emma    Saturday 02 January 2016 at 16:47

 Post #461 



 
Subject: Shoptiques

I would love to wish all our customers a lovely New Year!
We are particularly excited right now because we are beginning a new enterprise. We have been approached by a company called Shoptiques, which is an online selling platform,specially developed to sell boutique clothes from small companies like us.
So for readers of this blog who live too far away from us to call into the shop, please watch out for us on Shoptiques.com.
We will keep you posted. ....

 

Emma    Wednesday 01 July 2015 at 14:50

 Post #446 



 
Subject: Heat and Cold

Today, it's at least 25 degrees of heat in Brighton. For many people, this is the very best weather to come down and visit our city by the sea.

It's true that Brighton is lovely when it's like this. We have quaint, pretty shops, in shady little lanes. We have funky stores in lively thoroughfares, and sophisticated boutiques in bustling roads. There are lovely parks with fountains in dappled sunlight under old trees. We have sunny beaches with funfair rides and jet ski excitement.

On virtually every road we have cafes, from fine dining to quirky vegan eateries and gorgeous cream tea emporiums.

But I am aware that, for as many people who see this kind of weather as a blessing and a delight, there are those who find it tiring and uncomfortable.

For those people, I would still recommend a trip down to the coast. The air is nearly always breezy, and many shops have fantastic climate control.

Take us, for instance. We are right next door to the Theatre Car Park (no more than 10 steps from your air - conditioned car), and our air conditioning is usually set (if Kimmy is working ) at such a temperature that our customers are more likely to get hypothermia, rather than heatstroke. Words cannot express the wonderful feeling of coolness that meets you as you walk through our door.

Browsing through a collection of wonderful summer clothes in the cool of our store, a lovely way to spend some time.

And if, once you have enjoyed cooling down and selecting some scrummy clothes, you decide that you would like to catch up on some heat and sun after all, the sea, the beach, and all the cafes, bars and parks are right here.....

 

Emma    Friday 06 March 2015 at 17:12

 Post #432 



 
Subject: New Images Spring/Summer 2015

Just a quick message to remind customers that the new images of our gorgeous Spring/Summer collection are now loaded on to our website.

As always, our images just scratch the surface of what is here in store. I really do recommend coming in to view the collection at the earliest opportunity - it's a sight to be seen!

This year the colours are jewel-emerald green, turquoise, lapis and amethyst, and the fabrics are eclectic. There is lace, leather, denim, silk, linens, lawns and lovely jerseys of all kinds. There are hand-painted materials, dip-dyes, raw edges... everything is about variety and creativity.

We hope to see you soon.

 

Kim P    Sunday 09 November 2014 at 16:44

 Post #413 



 
Subject: The Shop!

 
Hello Emma Plus ladies

I am so pleased with the beautiful Christina Felix coat I bought on Friday. It's lovely and warm without being heavy. It looked so smart I decided to wear it to the Tower of London yesterday when I went to see the poppies.

It was great fun seeing the new Q'Neel goodies being unpacked after the delivery man called. Kim couldn't contain her excitement and customers were buying the clothes before they made the shop floor!

When I was in central London out of interest I visited a shop I'd heard about but it was so small you could not swing a cat in it and despite being made welcome by the staff I made a hasty exit.

It made me appreciate how pleasant and spacious the environment is at Emma Plus with plenty of room for customers both to browse and try on the clothes in comfort.

Best wishes
Kim

 

 Emma    Monday 10 November 2014 at 20:44

 
Hi Kim,

Thank you for your post, and as ever, kind words. I have to say, I did think you looked fabulous in the coat: a new collection for us. It was quite a smart piece, and I think perfect for going round to see the poppies, which I have heard are a superb spectacle.

It really makes me laugh when we get new stock in. Kim (and Anne and Olivia, but let's face it, mainly Kim!) runs around like a puppy that is let loose in a chicken coop! She almost goes blue in the face, and is hyperventilating!

Sometimes, when there is a customer present, I coolly turn to her as remark that it's a terrible pity that Kim just doesn't feel enough enthusiasm for her product! Occasionally, for a millisecond it's possible to see a look of disagreement pass over the customer's face, before the obvious truth that I am joking dawns on her! The truth is, we all feel the same enthusiasm, it's just that Kim can't help but show it!

 

Emma    Saturday 12 April 2014 at 15:39

 Post #396 



 
Subject: Our Birthday Celebrations

There are moments in life that really stand out, and today is one of them. I can honestly say that I will remember it forever.

I simply couldn't believe how many of our lovely customers came today to help us celebrate our 20 years in existence.

Women were queuing at our door before we were open, and, when we swung the door wide, everyone poured in, and a kind of happy melee ensued.

It didn't take long before our ladies were perusing our gorgeous, colourful summer collection, and selecting items for closer inspection. For the first time ever, we had to give out numbers to people waiting to go into our four changing rooms. It has been one of our best days ever.

Some people brought us cards, some chocolates, some plants, flowers, and other gifts, but all brought us their best wishes.

There was a wonderful feeling of esprit de corps amongst customers who chatted to each other and to us as old friends, which most of us are.

In return, we proffered bubbly, punch, nibbles, and a birthday cake (see picture, right).

I think we are very lucky to be able to work in a place where we deal with such lovely people, and I hope that we will be able to serve our community of like-minded plus-sized fashionistas for many years to come.

 

 Kim P    Sunday 13 April 2014 at 12:49

 
Hi Emma
Big thanks to you and all the super ladies at Emma Plus for hosting such a great event yesterday. The window display was lovely and the food and drink provided very much appreciated. The cake was delicious! It was exciting to enter the shop and be greeted with a goody bag; I am delighted with the contents! What an achievement it is for an independent retailer to be in business for 20 years and still going strong. I can honestly say the day I first walked into Emma Plus drastically changed the way I dressed and viewed clothes shopping and all for the better. Heres to the next 20 years!
As usual the shop looked beautiful with so many wonderful clothes to see and try on. I think this must be one of the best seasons collections and with new designers complimenting the tried and trusted it was fun to look through all the displays. The event was so popular I was in awe at how hard everyone was working to make everything run smoothly. The shop was buzzing and everyone had a super time. Kim even had time to show me the latest collection of waistcoats.
It was lovely seeing Jackie and Jaq again, both looking great. In fact seeing Jaq trying on a gorgeous linen coat prompted me to try it on myself and I ended up buying one! I am also delighted with the gorgeous Verpass and Nanso summer tops purchased. I cant wait for the sun to start shining so that I can wear them.
Thank you again for your generosity and hospitality; it really was a fabulous day.

 

 Kim P    Sunday 13 April 2014 at 14:53

 
Just putting my purchases away and I didn't buy a Nanso top at all, it was KJ Brand haha! I'm not very good with labels, the "Verpass" tops I was talking to you about yesterday were NP! Never mind, whatever the label they are gorgeous tops.

 

 Emma    Tuesday 15 April 2014 at 11:14

 
H Kim,

Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Yes, I am still recovering from the weekend, which was amazing.

I can't help feeling that we should have a birthday party every year!

I'm so glad that you found some lovely items: yes, I do think it's the best ever summer season. The colours this year are unique and beautiful.

I am looking forward to-perhaps not the next 20 years: that may be a bit too much, even for me-the next 10 years of Emma Plus!

 

Emma    Friday 11 April 2014 at 13:57

 Post #395 



 
Subject: Our Pearl Anniversary

I wish I could have a clearer photograph to show our lovely pearl anniversary window, but our problem is that there are reflections of our sunny street that obscure our picture. This is because the sun always shines in Brighton!

We are now putting the finishing touches to our party: the gift bags and tokens are ready, our fun quiz is devised, drinks are bought and food is ordered. The cake is on its way! We are all party girls, so we are really looking forward to a lovely buzz tomorrow. We hope you can make it.....

 

 Maureen Kirby    Saturday 12 April 2014 at 14:23

 
Hi Emma and the girls

Really enjoyed being part of your day and came away with some lovely things. Good to see Jaq as well. Hope the rest of the day goes well and you can have a bit of a relax over the weekend. Nice to see Kim again and meet Anna. See you soon.

Love Mo

 

 Emma    Tuesday 15 April 2014 at 11:17

 
Hi Maureen!

So glad to see you again: you were looking amazing!

The day was a wonderful one, and it was so unique to have an environment which was essentially a party involving all my good friends, at the same time as showing off all the lovely clothes!

Everyone seemed to have such a wonderful time, and I loved it......

 

Emma    Thursday 10 April 2014 at 11:21

 Post #394 



 
Subject: Goodies

We are up to our ears in gift bags right now, making the final preparations for our birthday celebration on Saturday.

We will be giving our first 50 customers a fantastic gift bag stuffed with fantastic goodies, and our first 20 customers a fantastic free gift worth 69.

We don't expect to see all 50 customers on Saturday, which means that we will in all probability be giving gift bags to customers for at least a week. So, even if you can't make the first day, it would be worth calling in to the store to pick up the gift bag if you happen to be passing soon-

We look forward to seeing you in store!

 

Emma    Saturday 29 March 2014 at 11:51

 Post #393 



 
Subject: Our 20th Birthday

We are so excited to be able to announce the celebration of our 20th birthday, here at Emma Plus.

Our store openened in spring 1994, and, although it does seem to have gone in a flash, that means we have been here a whole two decades!

To mark the occasion, we have decided to have a fantastic party, to which everyone is invited, and provide lovely presents for all.

The birthday party is going to be on the 12th April...all day, starting at 10.30 in the morning, and ending at 5pm. There is going to be extremely yummy food, and lovely drink (both alcoholic, and non). We are going to have a competition, with a prize, and there will be fabulous gift bags for all.

Most important, though, is our wonderful gift that we have especially commissioned, and which will be given free to the first 20 customers in our door on or after the 12th April. We are not going to tell you what it is, but it is limited edition, beautiful, hand-finished, unique, of the best quality, and will retail at 69...

We look forward to being able to thank our wonderful customers for all their fantastic support over the years. Without that, we would not be here. In many ways Emma Plus belongs to you.

 

 Kim P    Sunday 30 March 2014 at 21:30

 
Wonderful! Congratulations, I bet the 20 years have flown by!

I will be there!

 

 Emma    Thursday 03 April 2014 at 15:01

 
Thanks, Kim!

It promises to be a fantastic day. Our gift bags are causing a bit of excitement, and our free gift really is amazing.

More than anything, though, I think it will be the people on the day that will really make the whole event so special.

I am so glad to hear that you will be one of us!

 

 Maureen Kirby    Thursday 03 April 2014 at 16:51

 
hi Emma and Jaq

Remember me! We used to live in Surrey but now live in Hampshire and due to a lot of circumstances I haven't been able to get to Emma Plus for over 2 years - but guess what I am hoping to come and see you on the 12th. Will you both be there - hope so it would be lovely to catch up with you both.

Love Maureen

 

 Emma    Friday 04 April 2014 at 16:52

 
Hi Maureen!!!

How could we have ever forgotten you!? How are you? I often think about you and hope you are well...

I will definitely be here on the 12th. It's a big day for us, and I am so looking forward to it. It would be fantastic to see you again. You should see it here now: one week to go, and the excitement is brimming!

Jaq has become a lady of leisure, and no longer works for us in the shop. However, she is a dear friend, both to me, and to Emma Plus! I have every hope you will see her here on the day.

 

 Jane    Thursday 10 April 2014 at 08:59

 
Dear Emma

Happy 20 years and many more of them.

Good luck for Saturday

Jane

 

 Emma    Thursday 10 April 2014 at 11:14

 
Hi Jane!

Thank you so much for your kind words of support!

I hope you have a lovely weekend: perhaps we will see you?

Emma

 

Emma    Saturday 25 January 2014 at 17:00

 Post #384 



 
Subject: Task Versus Job

Here I am again, contemplating my new buying season. By the end of next week, I will be up to my ears in buying our stock for Autumn/Winter 2014. The last moment before I see the new collections is always an expectant time for me, and one during which I try to think about my priorities.

If I want to really analyse what it is that my customers want, I had better do so before I go and look at the collections. This is because I am a girlie, meaning that, once I have had a glimpse of all the gorgeous, shiny new things, thoughts from before will be gone from my head. And once they have gone, they will not be coming back!

However, I do believe that if I see lovely things that surprise and delight me, and completely take over my desires, I may as well simply buy them, and forget all about the specifics of what I thought I was looking for. This would be because, if the new styles have had that effect on me, then they are bound to have the same one on my clients.

To express it as an example, lets say that I have a customer - shall we call her Ms Smith? - who is looking for a dark grey sensible business suit. You know the kind of thing: a flat, workaday woven fabric, in a colour thats practical, with a simple, practical cut. I promise that I will try to find her one, and I go out to look for something along those lines.

As soon as I take one look at the collections, however, I am blown away by a gorgeous trouser suit in a delicious soft tweed in a midnight blue colour, in a modern style that oozes sophistication. So this is what I buy. When Ms Smith comes into our store, what do you suppose would normally happen? Well, all my experience would tell me what to expect. This would be that she would walk in the door and ask me whether I was able to source her the grey suit she had been seeking. When I tell her I had found her something else entirely, there would be a frisson of disappointment that crosses her face. Yet when I show her the beautiful midnight blue soft tweed, a look of ecstasy would sweep from ear to ear.

Of course, its arguable that perhaps I should source the customer that workaday suit anyway, just to be on the safe side. However, my passion tells me that, once she has seen the gorgeous new design, that will be what she opts for every time.

I was trained that, in every occupation one should remember what is your job, and what is your task. And then you should always emphasise that your job should take precedence over your task. In this example, my task is to find Ms Smith a grey, workaday business suit. I dont denigrate the task: its a very important thing to try not to let my customers down, and to take seriously my promises to them. However, my job is to find Ms Smith something that she loves, and help her style herself in a way that seriously enhances her life. This job must always take precedence over any task.

All I have to do really is look forward with hope and expectation that the designers will have found things that will delight and surprise me.

I am looking for things that are life-enhancing, and they havent let me down before.

 

 Kim P    Thursday 30 January 2014 at 22:13

 
This is where independent specialist retailers who know their customers come into their own. Good luck with the buying decisions, there will be nothing drab ordered I'm sure!

 

Emma    Thursday 03 October 2013 at 11:55

 Post #370 



 
Subject: Tribal fashion

While preparing for next weeks Emma Plus Fashion Show (taking place, of course, at the store in Brighton on 12 October at 2.00pm), I found myself cogitating on the subject of fashion tribes.

There is no shame in not knowing what a fashion tribe is (in fact, I almost think less of myself because I know about this kind of thing). To the uninitiated the term refers to the different groups that most fashion-conscious women fall into when developing their style.

One very common tribe among plus-size women is the Medieval Robe dresser. You may not have consciously noticed this kind of woman, but chances are that you have seen her. In the summer she wears almost full-length linen dresses with long coat-like jackets over the top. Trousers are always full and tops rarely finish above the knee. She loves handkerchief hems, often with the pointed edges of her tops almost scraping the pavement as she swishes along. In the winter she will often wear knitted serapes and long knitted jumpers with huge cowl necks - and she teams it all with scarves and snoods. Colours are purple, beige, terracotta and mustard.

A close 'relative' of hers (although both would be horrified to hear me say this) is the Japanese Modernist. She wears architectural clothes, with a futuristic twist. In the summer she will wear heavily textured linen (almost seersucker), often cut into asymmetric shapes. She may well have a long sleeve on one arm, and an elongated collar hanging over the other. One side of her outfit looks like a dress, the other side rises to reveal a trouser leg. What she shares with the Medieval Robe woman is an unwillingness to display her body; clothes drape and flow around the physique creating ambiguity. Colours are strict: black, white, beige and red are the only shades allowed under any circumstances. She will often top-off her outfit with a severe pair of spectacles.

At the other end of the scale for dressing is the Yummy Mummy. She is usually in her thirties or forties, and lives a very busy life. There is no way in the world she would have time and space to cope with a robe, or a long collar dangling over one elbow. Her clothes are pretty, but incredibly practical. In the summer she wears a cotton jersey dress teamed with a pair of cut-off leggings. A cheerful print with a splash of colour (often picked up in her jolly choice of shoes - usually Fitflops or Crocks - or a colourful handbag) never goes amiss. In the winter she will wear skinny jeans teamed with a colourful knit and waterproof jacket, plus ankle boots. She is eclectic with her colours; she wants to wear what suits her, but she has a penchant for spots and Breton-style stripes.

Among my customers are a disproportionate number of Luxe Euro women. These are ladies of impeccable taste. They abhor what they refer to as shapeless clothes (there is no overlap whatsoever with the Japanese Modernist or Medieval Robe women), and they are obsessed with the tactile quality of garments. They can smell quality from ten yards, and their fingertips can detect cashmere while they are still several millimetres above the fabric. They will not buy anything unless it fits to a T. Not all these women possess the financial resources which you would expect to facilitate this kind of taste, but no matter... they simply become past-masters at sniffing out the truly gorgeous bargains, and they buy clothes that give them a lot of use. In the summer they will often wear a high-quality linen blouse, teamed with impeccably cut, toning trousers. In the winter they will emerge with the most gorgeous Italian cashmere winter coats known to mankind, teamed with printed silk scarves. Many of these women prefer the Italian palette: navy, beige, red, charcoal, pale grey and bright coral.

I could go on all day (there are so many different types), but I have a Fashion Show to arrange... Hopefully, it will hold something for all those who attend - whatever their particular fashion tribe.

 

 Kim P    Friday 04 October 2013 at 23:22

 
Hopefully Kim will be modelling for the Waistcoat tribe!

 

 Emma    Saturday 05 October 2013 at 15:04

Hi Kim

Funnily enough, this is the waistcoat that Kim is going to get!

x
 

Emma    Wednesday 24 July 2013 at 09:45

 Post #362 



 
Subject: SALE!

The time has come again for our wonderful Summer Sale!

This year, more than ever, we have all been wearing our lovely cool summer clothes, and now there is an opportunity to top-up our summer wardrobe at substantially reduced prices.

This is a very colourful season, and the summer clothes in our sale are a rainbow of gorgeous shades. Of course, they look even better now some of them are half price or less.

There are two important facts to cogitate about our Sale. The first is that if you spend 100 or more in store and park in the NCP car park adjacent to our shop, you will qualify for 2 hours free parking.

The second is that Emma Plus enjoys an airconditioning system to beat all others, and any customer choosing to spend a little time in our store will leave relaxed, happy and as cool as a cucumber.

Our Sale starts at 10.30am on Friday 26th and continues at 10.00am on Saturday 27th July.

We look forward to seeing you in store!

 

 Sharon    Thursday 01 August 2013 at 14:44

 
Marvellous! I have booked a day off Friday next week for some bargain hunting and hopefully a peak at some new season stock.

 

 Emma    Friday 02 August 2013 at 13:36

 
That's fab, Sharon!

I think you will be coming at a very good time. We've already had some gorgeous A/W 13 items delivered, and our sale stock is up to 75% off, so there are some fantastic bargains to be had.

Look forward to seeing you soon-

 

Emma    Thursday 11 July 2013 at 12:12

 Post #360 



 
Subject: Ice cool

Counterintuitively those looking to cool off in this hot weather may choose to come over to Brighton and do some clothes shopping.

You would think that, with the weather seemingly getting hotter and hotter this weekend, the coolest place you could be would be at home, in the back garden, under the deepest shade of a parasol, sipping on iced water. Coming into Brighton, with its pavement cafes, parks, beaches, street theatre, open air art installations etc, would suggest a celebration of the sunshine rather than a flight from it.

But for those who find the hot weather really hard to take, there is actually rather a lovely way of spending the day here. It is possible, for example, to get into an air-conditioned car, drive down to Brighton, and arrive in a completely unflurried state. Then it is entirely feasable to find oneself parking in the NCP car park adjacent to Emma Plus, and walking the twelve steps required to enter our store.

Once inside, you'll find a swirl of cool air assails you as you walk through the door. Due to our super-duper air-conditioning, spending an hour or two perusing the gorgeous cool and colourful high-summer outfits will cause your blood to remain at a supremely comfortable temperature throughout your visit.

And after your pleasurable sujourn in store, you are entirely free to walk out into the sunshine, sit on the beach and get as pink as a lobster!

 

Emma    Saturday 18 May 2013 at 10:57

 Post #357 



 
Subject: The times they are a-changing...

The times have changed quite considerably since I first opened Emma Plus. In those days we tended to sell clothes to women in our own immediate area. No-one spent more than, say, half-an-hours travelling time to buy clothes. We sold to women in and around Brighton, with the odd person coming from the rest of Sussex.

This localised selling happened in all regions of the country, and had two detrimental effects on plus-size designer fashion. The first was that the shops that existed in those days were kept artificially small. Bonsai shops, I call them. Because we didnt have very many customers, we could only buy a small amount of stock. Because we only had quite a small and limited range, it really wasnt worth a woman investing her time and effort travelling some distance to get here (in fact, when someone who lived far away from us telephoned, asking whether it would be worth her while travelling, we would usually advise her not to do so; it wasnt that we didnt believe in our stock; it was just that, after taking half the day to get here, a customer would generally prefer to have a choice of, say, more than two bottom halves, three tops, one dress and a coat in her size!). This, as you can imagine, was a vicious circle.

The other detrimental effect on plus-size fashion was a lot worse. Twenty years ago there really was very little product available in the size range that we cater for. Buying online had not been invented, catalogue selling tended to be quite abysmal, and many werent lucky enough to live in the catchment area of a designer plus-size store. The high street just had a tiny selection, mainly from one particular chain, whose offer was very unimaginative. The result was that most plus-size women, unless they were gifted designer/seamstresses in their own right, looked under-par most of the time. People dont remember this now, but it was an accepted fact that plus-size women looked a lot older than their real age, less stylish, and almost completely sexless. If the plus-size woman of today could see the kind of offer that we were presented with in those days, there would be a riot. I think that even those of us who lived through that time hardly believe it now.

Clearly, how you present yourself has a great impact on your social standing and personal confidence. When it was difficult to find clothing that accurately represented how you felt about yourself, and how you perceived your social standing, it was very detrimental. For example, I was told this story by one of my customers that illustrates my point... She was a highly successful businesswoman and mother of young children. Her work was brilliant, and her company had reached the stage where it was going to be floated on the Stock Exchange. Unfortunately, as a busy woman with a family, she had very little time to travel the country trying to find the clothing that she really wanted. Instead, she bought everything on the high street, which created a look she didnt feel happy with, but she tried to convince herself that it wasnt important. Surely, it was her professionalism and knowledge that was most significant in the boardroom, not the way she presented herself?

One day she had to go to the City to discuss the floatation. She walked into a room to meet with several men in suits for the first time. As she entered, and approached the table, several of them looked up and, assuming that she was the cleaner, asked her to tidy up part of the room before the client arrived. She was humiliated, and understandably felt very undermined. Its very difficult, even for a confident person, to come back from that kind of start to a meeting! She vowed that, no matter how much effort it took, she was going to present herself in the way she felt comfortable with in future.

To say that the impact of the internet has had unexpected consequences in almost every walk of life is something of an understatement. I, for one, never really anticipated how it was going to affect my industry. For the first time we can now get national recognition for what we do, and encourage more and more women to come into our store to buy from us. Today, if a customer telephones and asks whether it is worthwhile travelling to get to us, no matter how far they were contemplating, I wouldnt hesitate to say yes. Occasionally, women ask if it would be worth their while undertaking a two-hour trip, and these days I am quite bewildered... Two hours? Why, of course, thats no distance!

This has meant that our stockholding has increased exponentially, and we find that we have more beautiful clothes in a wider variety of sizes and in greater quantity than ever before. And what is being offered to us by the designers is getting ever more exciting and gorgeous. For about 10 years I found myself saying wow... this is the best season ever, with a tone of surprise every season. Now I understand the mechanism of how our industry works I take this situation as a given. Of course its the best season ever, every time! It would be a bit of a let-down if it wasnt, considering the reasons why the industry should be improving year on year.

The next aspect of the internet revolution has also got into swing... the empowerment of the customer. Nowadays, bloggers and reviewers are trying to take some of the bother out of all this travelling. They are aiming to find out everything they can about the plus-size shops out there, and to give recommendations, warnings, and general feedback - not only to the store owners, but to the customers who can then have an informed choice as to whether they wish to get into their car or on to the train, and trek to a shop that may be some distance away.

This is a democratic development; hopefully we will now see the real power of the consumer. The shops that are worth visiting will get more popular, and those offering a disappointing product or service will either have to shape up, or will go. I strongly believe we should welcome the Trip Advisors of this world, and encourage the bloggers and reviewers out there. We cant blindly accept what they are saying, but I do think they will have a vital part to play in the future.

This is why I was so delighted to see that one of the most popular plus-size bloggers, Boombands Em (pictured, above right, with Anna Scholz and me), had written such a generous and enthusiastic review of our recent ASD (http://boombands.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/emma-plus-at-brighton.html) on her blog, and Tweeted about us, too.

Im very grateful; I dont think many folk realise just what a hugely positive influence on our industry people like Em have, and how much we can all benefit from it.

 

Emma    Tuesday 02 April 2013 at 17:22

 Post #346 



 
Subject: Idealism

I was going through the airport duty free section when I noticed an advertisement for a new type of foundation. I had wandered into the cosmetics department, looking for some top-ups for my make-up bag. It pleased me greatly to see this new formulation, which offered what seemed an almost limitless number of different shades. Gone are the days, it seems, when there were only three or four shades of human skin that warranted matching make-up. A few years ago only some lucky women were worth that it seemed.

However, I have always known that, whatever the range, even if there are a thousand different shades of foundation on offer, I will need to have either colour number 1 (the absolute palest) in the winter, or number 2 (after I have a particularly impressive tan at the end of the summer). Yes, I really am that deathly pale!

I think it is a generally accepted fact that any skin looks a bit better with a bit of melanin in it, but I am happy to accept my shortcomings, just as I accept the fact that I do not have a waist. When I was younger, I was annoyed with my faults, but I have long forgiven my body for not being exactly what I would like it to be.

I remember listening to a record as a child that suggested that the world would be a much better place if it comprised one big melting pot, turning out coffee-coloured people by the score. I was appalled. Of course, if there were such a scenario, then I (and my snow-white legs) would personally have a lot to gain, but I felt, even as a young child, that the world would be greatly impoverished in the process.

It seems to me that there are forces always at work that try to cajole us either into all being the same or into feeling ashamed or inferior because of our diversity. Women with whiter than white skin like mine often slap on layers of self-tan, even while some of our sisters bleach their skin to try to achieve that elusive caf-au-lait beauty. Some women try to straighten their hair, and, for hundreds of years, some have squeezed their figures with corsets in the course of giving themselves the required body shape.

Actually, I think these forces are very strong, have always been there, and are probably more powerful today than they have ever been. We are continually subliminally (and sometimes not so subliminally) told we have to have one type of hair, to be a certain age, a particular height, a type of body shape, no more than a maximum weight, and yes, a certain shade of skin. If you are any different from this then you are a failure, and you cannot ever achieve beauty.

Maybe its just because I am a contrary type of gal, or perhaps it is because I have never personally fitted into to these ideals, that I have never accepted them. Or maybe its because I have observed that they have absolutely nothing to do with actual beauty. They are just a form of bullying. If you dont believe me, I can prove it... Just sit in a coffee shop and watch the people going past. Look at their faces, their bodies, and their general appearance. Men and women; I defy you to really try to tell me that it is only those who fit into the accepted cultural norms of attractiveness (those rules about height and weight, colouring, body shape etc.) who are beautiful.

I refuse to feel badly about myself, just because my legs could be used as beacons, warning sailors not to crash on the rocks. Nor do I feel particularly ashamed because my measurements are more or less all the same - all the way down my body - so that I am always in danger of my skirt falling around my ankles.

When women come into my shop I often see a strange phenomenon. I see beautiful women dressing as if they think they are plain. When you talk to these customers they often say that they strongly believe that they are not attractive. It seems odd, because its hard to understand how they can avoid having noticed how lovely they look. Dont they have a mirror? I cannot always change their point of view, but, by golly, I can provide them with the clothes they need to dress to their best.

I strongly believe in the beauty of the diversity of human beings. No matter how strongly the forces that try to shape us all in the same mould (and try to make us feel inferior if we dont shape up) press down on us, I will do my best to make my store a haven from those pressures.

Its my belief that is what a plus-size store should be. Because if it isnt about this, what on earth is it for?

 

 Kim P    Thursday 04 April 2013 at 16:31

 
Well said Emma!

BTW, those two lovely grey dresses I bought for work are a great success. Had several compliments and I am so pleased I was lucky to be able to get them both. Thank you!

 

 Emma    Friday 05 April 2013 at 11:08

 
Thanks, Kim!

You looked fab in those dresses: so glad you got them!

Looking forward to seeing you on the ASD!?

 

 Kim P    Wednesday 10 April 2013 at 18:06

 
Sadly can't now do the ASD but our conference is in Brighton again this June so will be sure to pop in then!

 

Emma    Wednesday 19 December 2012 at 14:41

 Post #324 



 
Subject: Christmas 2012

This Sunday was something of a red-letter day here at the shop. It was the day of our annual Emma Plus Christmas Lunch.

As you can imagine, we don't like to stint, so we sashayed round the corner to a wonderful restaurant in the North Laine of Brighton called Temptations.

The owner of Temptations, Peter Allinson, a stalwart of the local independent traders that surround our shop, did us proud - with beautiful, locally-sourced, delicious food.

Lunch went on all afternoon, and I have to confess that afterwards I had to go home to sleep it off. I think it could be said that a good time was had by all...!

We at Emma Plus would like to wish our lovely customers an equally good time over the holiday period, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year...

 

 Kim P    Thursday 20 December 2012 at 22:01

 
Looks like everyone is having a great time!

I hope you all have a great Christmas and that 2013 is a great year for everyone at Emma Plus!

 

 Emma    Friday 21 December 2012 at 20:23

 
Hi Kim,

Thank you so much for your kind sentiments. I wish you have a lovely Christmas, and a super New Year.

I do hope that we get to see you soon, Kim.....

 

 Emma    Saturday 22 December 2012 at 16:09

 
By the way, Kim.....the other Kim has asked if she will be seeing you at our sale (whisper it: it's on the 28th December)?

She thinks that, should you feel the need for anything that isn't drab, there will be plenty to choose from....

 

 Kim P    Sunday 23 December 2012 at 14:09

 
That's interesting! I may well make my way down and have first dibs on the tartan waistcoats!

 

 Emma    Wednesday 26 December 2012 at 10:34

 
Latest news, Kim....! We've had a run on the tartan waistcoats, and have none left. Would you believe it!

I would suggest going to the Tartan Woollen Mill, but I'm not too sure you would have any luck there, either. You know how these ultra-trendy things sell out so quickly! Sorry.

 

 Emma    Friday 28 December 2012 at 16:32

 
Lovely to see you today, Kim,. You look great, and I really loved your choices, which updated your wardrobe perfectly to suit your evolving style. Happy New Year...

 

 Kim P    Tuesday 01 January 2013 at 16:48

 
Thank you, you are so kind Emma! I was quite poorly but the trip was a great pick me up.

I wish you all a great 2013 too!

 

Emma    Wednesday 30 May 2012 at 10:56

 Post #293 



 
Subject: Bank Holiday opening hours

During the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, many people will take the opportunity that a longer bank holiday weekend will afford to have a bit of a mini-break.

If the weather is good, my experience is that there will be a significant number of my customers who decide to come down to the seaside for a welcome change of scene. Brighton is a very good place to visit, as - being on the south coast - it tends to have some of the best weather in the country, an - as it is a very varied city - there is something for everyone.

We have our piers (the Brighton Pier, with its traditional British seaside attractions, and the old Palace Pier, which has now become a romantic ruin), and our beach. There is also the Brighton Eye, which provides an unrivaled view of the city and coast for miles around.

In my opinion, though (and I would say this!), none of this compares to the wonderful attractions of the North Laine area. We have super little artisan food shops and cafes, theatres, pubs - in fact venues of every kind. But most of all we just have fantastic shops. These include amazing fashion shops (everything from clothes to shoes and accessories) - which make a stunning contribution to the attractions of the area.

I can't imagine anything I would like more (especially if the weather is good) than to come down to Brighton and visit the North Laine. I would drive to the NCP car park in Church Street (where, if I spent 100 or more at Emma Plus, I would get 2 hours' free parking). It's nearly always possible to get an easily-accessible spot to park in there. I would then pop out of the Church Street entrance, walk the two or three yards necessary, then disappear into Emma Plus. There I would find refreshments, air conditioning and beautiful clothes!

Once I had finished indulging my inner fashion goddess, I would exit Emma Plus, and walk just a few steps down the road to the plethora of lovely restaurants. I would probably decide to lunch at Temptations - a scrummy cafe just on the next corner.

Then, having enjoyed a relaxing, delicious and leisurely lunch, for the first time I would find myself in a dilemma: what to do next? I could browse through the intriguing variety of different, individual shops of the North Laine, or I could wander down to the gorgeous and classy mainstream stores on East Street. On the other hand, simply by crossing the road and wandering a few dozen yards, I could visit Brighton Pavilion - surely one of the most quirky and amazing palaces in the country.

In any case, I may choose to do all of this on Tuesday 5th June (which is a Bank Holiday in the UK), because we at Emma Plus (along with most of Brighton) will be open for business!

Here in the shop we wish all our customers a thoroughly lovely day, whatever you decide to do!

Bank Holiday Opening hours: Saturday 2nd June - open as usual (10am-5pm). Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th - closed. Tuesday 5th June - open as usual.

 

Emma    Thursday 26 April 2012 at 18:00

 Post #284 



 
Subject: Plus fashion

So farewell then (at least for now!) Evans, Brighton. You have been here for a long time, and will be much missed. It was rather a shock to the system to hear that our local Evans is closing down tomorrow.

Over the years there have been many other plus-size stores here in Brighton. When I first started in 1990, Evans was on the high street, and nearby in Brighton Lanes there was a lovely designer shop called Park Plus. Round the corner from us was a 250-year-old department store called Hanningtons - which stocked various ranges that crept towards the plus-size mark (at the most around size 20). Later on, Hanningtons opened an Elvi department - specifically for plus-sizes. A short way along the coast in Hove was the grandmother of us all: a lovely shop called Dresswell, which, although it was not a specialist plus-size shop, stocked some larger sizes.

Shortly after I came here, a new store, Box 2, opened-up a stones throw away, selling designer plus-sizes.

Back on the high street, and some time later, we were told that a new, slightly more up-market high street shop was opening, and it was to be called Ann Harvey. It was an unfortunate time for them to open, starting off as they did in virtually the same week as near namesake Ann Summers - which caused much confusion, consternation and not a little hilarity when various mistaken customers blundered into the wrong new stores. (For the uninitiated, Ann Harvey sold, at the beginning, rather pretty plus-size clothes, whereas Ann Summers is an - ahem - intimate apparel and adult toy store!)   Also on the high street was a shop called Etam, which momentarily opened a plus-size department. Later, another plus-size high street store, Rogers and Rogers, opened in our nearby shopping centre. We also benefitted from one of the largest plus-size departments of H&M stores in the country.

A little later a store called Hampstead Bazaar opened, selling a layered look that many plus-size (and small) women wear, and, in a similar mould, The Glass House boutique also opened nearby. About this time a new store called Cinnamon, which specialised in plus-sized designer wear, opened in Burgess Hill, and then rapidly expanded into Brighton.

In those days many locals regularly made the trip up to the big London stores to supplement their wardrobes. Liberties had a gorgeous plus-size department, as did Harvey Nichols, John Lewis and the really big players in the field: Harrods and Selfridges.

One by one I have watched these stores close down or otherwise pull out of the market. Various offerings have diminished and become something else: I believe that Elvi, Ann Harvey and Box 2 are now available predominantly online. Rogers and Rogers has gone into out-of-town discount fashion store, Matalan. Our H&M plus-size department has massively diminished, and cannot even be called a shadow of its former self.

Many have simply gone: Hannington's, Park Plus, Cinnamon, The Glass House, and now Hampstead Bazaar have all disappeared, and after 60 years of trading, Dresswell of Hove closed down late last year.

I was surprised when Liberty's closed its plus-size offer; less so when Harvey Nicks did not continue with it. That John Lewis, Harrods and Selfridges no longer have plus-size departments is nothing short of a national scandal.

The biggest shock of all, however, is the closure of our local Evans - a monolithic high street presence in the plus-size market, and one which I never dreamed would disappear from Brightons high street.

As of tomorrow, Emma Plus is the last plus-size womens fashion store in this city. As I said to someone yesterday, I feel that we have been on a journey, and one by one our travelling companions have disappeared.

An economist studying the situation here would no doubt conclude that there can be no requirement for plus-size fashion in this city. Perhaps we, as a population, have been shrinking in size? Maybe fashion has gone out of fashion? Perhaps plus-size women dont really want or need to look fabulous? Or maybe there is something particular about plus-size women that mean they dont need to try things on in order to see if clothes suit them, and are perfectly able to select items of clothing by looking at photographs online?

Every day beautiful plus-size women come through my door and prove these ideas wrong. Why the high street (and, to be fair, many designer stores too) have retreated from this vital, expanding market is bizarre and needs urgently to be questioned.

Professionally I enjoy the extra custom that being a sole trader in this field affords, but as a plus-size woman myself, I am furious and bewildered.

 

 Nicola    Sunday 29 April 2012 at 12:48

 
Hi Emma

I think what you have said here is very interesting and also a reflection of the failure of the high street, both high and low end, to cater to larger women's needs.

I think that the key is in the service, or lack thereof, from the larger stores such as Evans and Harrods. Having shopped at both the thing they have/had in common were their failure to provide a good level of service. In the case of Harrods the assistants were cold and offered no useful advice (more interested in selling than find the best for their customer). In Evans the service was non-existant with disinterested staff.

The result - you went away with clothes sure, but they didnt make you look good and left your self-esteem at rock bottom, and in the case of Harrods an empty bank account toboot.

The uniqueness of your store Emma is that you provide, along with a great range of clothing, sound & honest advice, which leaves you with happy customers who feel good about themselves.

The tradgedy of the closures of all these stores is I feel larger women are being humiliated off the high-street and onto the internet where they can remain anonymous. Younger women in particular are going on-line and are losing out on the guidance and advice of professionals like yourselves.

Nicola

 

 Emma    Tuesday 01 May 2012 at 15:24

 
Hi Nicola,

thank you so much for your lovely comments, Nicola! I think there may well be a chicken-and-egg situation here. You would suggest that it is the lack of good customer service that has done for these stores, whilst I would stick to my own personal hobby-horse of the lack of good fit in the plus-size market!

However, we are perhaps just both reflecting the fact that the customer is in dire need of help in order to get a fit and a look that is right for her. Let's be honest, with the horrendous fit that is available for most plus-size clothing on the high street, the consumer needs all the help she can get when sourcing her wardrobe!

Without that help, she may just as well buy online, because she is never going to find things that really fit her well anyway!

 

Emma    Wednesday 14 December 2011 at 15:34

 Post #263 



 
Subject: Fashion democracy...

I find that I now remember rather little of what I was taught at school; I think that, for me at least, I am more likely to be able to use the skills I gained during my education, than to recall facts or specific lessons.

However, one particular statement made to me (during an economics lesson, of all things!) did stick very firmly in my mind. We were told that every time we purchased something, we voted. My teacher (a wonderful, inspirational man) taught us that even though we were only called upon to vote in parliamentary elections every 4 or 5 years, we were able to express our preference several times a day by carefully picking out what it was that we wanted to spend our money on. His point was a brilliant one: if you dont like the company or the product, show your disapproval by removing your hard-earned cash from their premises forthwith - thereby (hopefully) concentrating the minds of the business owners on what they can do to improve their relationship with their customers.

Of course, my teachers argument continued that the converse is also true: if you welcome how a company is run, and enjoy their product, it is worth going the extra mile to endorse their service with your custom.

His message really went into my head, and I can honestly say that it is one of the few lessons that I had during my childhood that has had a daily influence on my behaviour. Some people may think I am an obsessive, but I will always seek out companies that I approve of, or ones whose products I really like, and make an effort to patronise them when I can. And I know I am not the only one: almost on a daily basis I have evidence of my own customers acting in this way.

I remember when I first opened a shop under my own name (almost 18 years ago now). I had worked for the previous two owners, before making the daunting jump to take it over for myself. I had built up good relationships with my customers, and had promised that I would try to continue this when the shop re-launched after its refit. One morning, half-way through the building work, whilst the shop was still closed, I found a note had been pushed under the door. It asked me to put a sign in my window to tell the sender when I was re-opening, because the lady was intending to come in immediately, and buy something, even if I dont like anything! The note was signed by a long-standing customer of mine!

These days when I see customers who have travelled all the way over from Wales, up from Cornwall, or down from London - or made the trip from Norfolk, Essex, the Midlands, or whatever - I am driven to think about these economic realities more than ever. Time was when there were many small local stores selling designer plus-size clothing. Many of these shops were somewhat lacklustre, and perhaps it was time for them to disappear. However, I do feel that many more have been seen off by the temporarily difficult trading conditions that have afflicted the fashion industry over recent years.

Many plus-size women used to rely on going up to the London stores - like Harrods, Liberties, John Lewis, Selfridges, etc. However, these stores no longer have their plus-size departments. Women are having to travel like never before in order to get beautiful clothing.

In my opinion - were I not in this business and if I lived in some part of the country that still enjoyed a good local plus-size boutique - I would rush to that store straight away to offer them whatever patronage I have at this time, in the hope that others will do the same. Although I clearly have a great interest in what the economists have to say about my trade, I do know from personal experience that some of it is rubbish. Economists seem to believe that nature abhors a vacuum and that where a business is needed, one will automatically spring-up to service the demand. I happen to know this is not the case in the plus-size industry. Over the past few years, when the independent designer shops have closed down, they stay dark.

It is obviously very important to watch the pennies if you have to, but it is not, I would argue, a wise option to spend those pennies in the large, cheap chain stores, thus starving out the very small businesses - which in the future would be sorely missed. Once lost, those individual shops will not return in a hurry. It is a situation that may well benefit a store like mine, with its reputation, long history and established internet presence, which can draw customers from far and wide. But a long car drive across or down the country, followed by a stay at a hotel, in order to find some gorgeous clothes, may well be the only option to many plus-size women in England, and this situation is getting more extreme all the time.

To have a good designer clothes shop on my doorstep, selling a wide range of gorgeous clothes, is something I would vote for any day.

 

Emma    Thursday 01 December 2011 at 15:10

 Post #258 



 
Subject: Parking!

After much thought and effort, we think we have come across a way to help our hard-pressed customer with her parking needs.....

We have introduced a scheme where anyone spending 100 or more in our shop can have 2 hour's free parking in the NCP car park right next door to our shop. This is effective immediately, and is for any day (including Saturdays).

This is a trial, and it will be effective all the time this post is up. For details, call us on 01273 327240, or just ask us whilst you are in store....

 

 Kim P    Thursday 01 December 2011 at 22:57

 
Great idea Emma, that really is a saving worth having as is the 10% off the gift vouchers.

 

 Emma    Friday 02 December 2011 at 13:59

 
Hi Kim!

Thanks for your post. Yes, I think it is so convenient to just park next door and stroll over. Knowing that you can get 2 hours for free does make the difference!

 

Emma    Monday 28 November 2011 at 17:40

 Post #257 



 
Subject: Shrinkage

I was channel hopping one night recently when I happened to turn on a popular TV soap, which I dont normally watch. I was arrested by the face of an actress, who seemed extremely familiar. It appeared to be an acquaintance of mine. The thing was, I knew this television-woman couldnt be the one whom I knew, because the actress on screen was a completely different size.

A few weeks later, I bumped into my acquaintance, and she confirmed that it had indeed been her that had starred in this episode (I hadnt realised until then that she worked as an actress). I have to admit I was shocked, because the woman in front of me then was about five feet tall, and a size eight or ten, whereas the woman I had seen on the screen was probably five foot eight and a size sixteen. I know that the camera adds a stone of weight, but this was ridiculous. What on earth could have caused this temporary morphing from a petite person into an average-sized one? After mulling it over for a few moments, I was driven to one conclusion: all the actors on the soap were tiny, making this woman look much bigger in comparison. I couldnt help wondering; did they have to build a special set to accommodate all those teenie-weenies?

This is just one example of how size is a highly comparative issue, and Im not sure if any of us really understands just how much this matters. When I was a schoolgirl, growing up in the seventies, I was huge. As a five-foot-eight and a half (the half was very important) size sixteen, with (shock, horror!) size seven-and-a-half feet, sixteen-year old, I stood out as a one of a kind. If you dont believe me, I still have the school photograph to prove it. The picture shows our whole school year... Teenagers are lined up in three rows, in all their glorious nineteen-seventies bad hair and unflattering acrylic clothing: boys and girls looking strangely similar. And there am I, head and shoulders taller, and twice as wide as everyone else, towering like Shrek over the whole proceedings.

I often think of this scene as I drive past our local school in the mornings. There are many taller girls nowadays (we have been growing a centimeter taller every decade since the war), and a lot more generally larger and heavier people. A size 16 sixteen-year-old really is nothing to write home about now. Today, I can walk into every shoe shop and buy what I want (something I could only dream about when I was younger).

A similar thing happens in our shop every day. Women often ask me if we have flattering mirrors, because they feel they look so much slimmer. Obviously, one should take into account the effects of our beautiful clothes and fabulous styling (!), but it cannot be ignored that our shop is a plus-size space. The vast majority of people entering are larger people. Really, anyone below a size 20 looks child-sized; it's the mainstream sized people who are out of scale - should they enter our portals.

This week the latest figures showed that a quarter of the women in our country are plus-sized (even though our TV programmes still dont reflect this reality), and this is not something that is going to go away anytime soon. Whatever you feel about this, the reality is that we larger people are gaining in numbers all the time, and this is going to have a profound effect on how we look and feel, and how others view us. The world has changed, and is continuing to do so.

 

 Victoria Hollis    Tuesday 06 December 2011 at 21:49

 
I read this once again laughing Em

I was the 5.9 shoe size 8 and size 20 wearing 16 year old. Looking through all my school pictures I was the girl in the back row with the boys while all my petite classmates were in front.

Size is so much a matter of perception. A good example of this was Natalie Cassidy the eastenders actress I saw at the curves in couture show. To me she seemed tiny and delicate. In the press shes been battered for weight gain of late.

You can see how so many women end up hating themselves because they dont fit the so perfect shape being paraded in the press.

 

 Emma    Tuesday 06 December 2011 at 23:24

 
Hi Tori-

At the risk of sounding a bit paranoid, it does almost seem that there is a conspiracy in the media to pretend that we (as a population) are all tiny. Yet in fact we are as a nation are getting bigger and bigger.

I don't think I am alone in not feeling as large as I did years ago, because I know from personal experience that my customers are demanding and expecting a fashion-forward look more than ever before. I feel certain this is due to the normalising effect of the increase in our numbers.

All we need now is for the fashion industry to truly reflect this new reality....

 

Emma    Wednesday 21 September 2011 at 16:03

 Post #244 



 
Subject: Service, please!

I was shopping in my local area yesterday and I realised how the kind of service I could expect from any given store really affected my mood.

I admit that, for several reasons, I almost never buy clothes anywhere other than in my own shop. One is that if I dont rely on my own products, then I cant see any reason why anyone else should. I have set my store the task of having everything that a woman like me needs to wear. So I stock everything I can get my hands on - from casual wear such as jeans, through outdoor wear and knits, right up to the smartest kind of eveningwear that I could wish for.

Another reason why I dont shop in the High Street is that, as far as I can tell, nothing they are selling is designed with me in mind. If I were a small woman I would be shopping in places like Reiss, Hobbs, Jaeger, etc. Obviously, as things are, nothing in these stores is going to fit me (until that mythical time when I wake up one day to find out that I have morphed into a size 14, 54 woman). So, if I werent shopping at Emma Plus, I would have to go to those few specialist high street stores that we have here in Brighton (heaven help me). Lets just say this would not provide clothing sufficient to meet my needs.

So when I say I was shopping yesterday, it was not for clothes. I had in mind to buy myself a new bag; in common with a lot of other women this season I wanted a nude handbag. In theory, I should find one easily (they are everywhere at the moment). My problem, however, was one I see among my customers all the time: I am very particular about the item I'm looking for. I would like it to be a true nude, not beige and certainly not baby pink. I would like it to be quite small (with a shoulder strap), and I would like it to be made of really lovely leather. Oh, and Id like it to be vintage-looking, with silver not gold findings. Phew!

Well, I may not be able to shop in most stores for clothing, but I can zoom in anywhere on a quest for bags. So I moseyed round to my usual handbag-hunting grounds. The first port of call was the aforementioned Jaeger. However, I did not go over the threshold on this occasion. I stood outside the shop, casually walking backwards and forwards, trying to see if there were any nude bags within. There were not (luckily I could see this easily and did not have to go inside - something I was only going to do if they definitely had what I was looking for).

Why on earth did I not want to go inside? Well, there is a member of staff in the store, who, although absolutely lovely (she truly is the most wonderful person; had I needed to find a mother to adopt my first-born child, I would have looked no further). However, she is so incredibly chatty and effusive that I find it almost impossible to simply walk into the shop, smooch quietly around for a bit, and then stroll out within fifteen minutes. I would be lucky to get out within an hour. And I didnt have a spare hour.

So, having seen nothing in Jaeger, I went to Hobbs. I like Hobbs handbags this season: they have that vintage vibe off pat. However, as I walked in the door, I was surrounded by a gaggle of assistants, all vying for my custom. When I showed interest in some (gorgeous, long) leather gloves, fisticuffs nearly broke out. This ended up with several pairs of the same gloves on the counter, and two ladies gently trying to nudge each other out from behind the till in order to make my sale. I dismissed the idea of spending any more time there; I thought I would rather come back when there were more customers in the store... I like a bit of attention, but this was ridiculous!

My next shop was a lovely one which we have locally. Its called Comptoir Des Cotonniers... a store that has some interesting leather goods, and there did seem to be a bit of neutral colouring going on there. However, as I idled around the shop floor, I seemed to have a shadow. A sweet young sales lady was following me very closely, keeping up a running commentary on what I was absent-mindedly looking at. Those shoes also come in grey... That belt is sold separately... The jacket has mohair in it. As I knew she was just trying to be helpful, I really couldnt give in to the urge to turn and ask her if she would kindly leave me to my own devices. I left the shop.

Yes, there seemed to be an awful lot of incredibly helpful sales assistants around, and it was making me feel uncomfortable. However, I am aware of the fact that I am a very contrary, unfair creature. If I dont get enough attention, it doesnt take long before that also makes me irritable.

For example, I walked into All Saints, the kind of edgy, youthful fashion store whose design seems to be based on a science-fiction concept of a future where civilisation has collapsed. Apparently, the remaining mutants had to scratch a living selling distressed clothes from some kind of post-apocalyptic dungeon. Anyway, I digress; they actually had a very nice-looking handbag. However, it was hanging on the wall halfway towards the ceiling (I say ceiling: it was more like the underside of a 600-year old, very dirty, interplanetary mining spacecraft). I am quite tall; however, even I would need a step-ladder (or perhaps an anti-gravity device) to get up to the bag. I looked around for the shadow when I needed it. However, this emporium was far too cool to employ sales assistants - so I left several frustrating minutes later, still having made no contact with whatever alien life I would have had to deal with to buy that bag.

So I crept into Reiss, which was almost next door. I was already feeling slightly snubbed, so perhaps by this time I was a delicate creature. As I entered the shop, I was greeted by two sales assistants behind the counter. All looked well here; yes, there were two of them (and no other customers), but they did not leave their safety zone of the counter. However, they did welcome me. Excellent start!

The problems began when I spotted a leather bracelet (sorry, but I am always off-message when I am shopping). Sadly, because the lighting in the shop was so poor, I couldnt see whether it was silver or a gold buckle (the all-important gold/silver issue!). When I tried to make eye-contact with the two of them, suddenly I realised I was invisible. They had far more interesting things to be thinking about than a middle-aged woman who was far too large to buy anything in the store (they may have thought). Eventually, Mohammed had to go to the mountain, and I approached them with the offending object. Almost immediately I found out that the metal was gold (not good for me), but was instantly rousingly assured that this really shouldnt matter! It was just the same as silver, really! I was even given some hints as to what to wear with gold (more gold, apparently!).

As I walked back to my own place, I started to muse about how vital it is to get the level of service right in a shop. Too friendly, and we may actually be wasting someones valuable time. Too keen to make a sale and we dont really help a customer. Too intrusive, and we make people uncomfortable. Too absent, and we are useless. Too distant and we are alienating. Too ignorant and uninformed, and we cannot help. Too uninterested, and we ignore a customers real needs, and dismiss them.

We have to walk a careful path where we are available and capable of providing our customers needs, whilst giving them the time and space to enjoy their shopping experience. I reminded myself yet again that its vital to try to ensure that we always get the balance right.

 

 Victoria Hollis    Wednesday 21 September 2011 at 20:21

 
I read this laughing.... sometimes shopping can be almost like a comedy sketch.

The balance with service is a fine line some of us need our hands held whilst others are intrepid adventurers who will quite happily walk alone.

I cannot understand how any assistant worth their salt would say to a lady with your colouring Em to wear more gold like me with my milk bottle blue skin gold just does not work.

But what I can say without a qualm is the mix of lovely ladies you have in your shop are fantastic

Kim the trouser queen, Jac the accessories guru and you yourself the sheer genius I have never felt pushed or ignored in your shop speaking of which I'm hoping to come up mid october so cant wait I was wondering if you had the ponte jersey frill shift tunic from Anna Scholz in store ?

 

 Emma    Thursday 22 September 2011 at 15:24

Hi Tori

Thank you for your lovely comments!

Yes, I don't know what's worse... a sales assistant (specialising in fashion) who either doesn't know that certain complexions cannot wear certain colours. Or one that knows this is so, but doesn't care!

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news... we did order the tunic quite comprehensively, but (as is usual with Anna Scholz items), it has sold very quickly. We even re-ordered them, and now the cupboard is bare.

However, there is a bright ray of hope on the horizon: this season is one of the best ever, and there are some absolutely gorgeous things here now, and still coming in!

I really look forward to seeing you soon.
 

 Victoria Hollis    Friday 23 September 2011 at 17:50

 
Darn it too slow again lol...

I'm sure it will be worth the trip up anyway.

But the thing is and im sure I have mentioned it in prior comments you and the girls genuinely care about your customers and getting it right. I feel totally disenchanted shopping on the high street when staff are in identikit uniforms with a bad attitude more interested in chatting to each other than serving customers.

 

 Emma    Saturday 24 September 2011 at 13:27

Hi Tory!

Thanks for that... I'm so sorry you are suffering from 'High Street Shopping Frustration Syndrome'. It's horrible.

I was chatting to another of my customers this week (a gorgeous lady who reads the blog, but does not, as yet, contribute herself), and she had some thoughts about tights.

She used to buy the Levee tights, but hadn't known they had gone down (was that quite recent?).

She also said that she buys a collection called Gipsy, which she has delivered, ordered from their website. It does seem that Gipsy may well be a good option (being definitely currently available; all the others being a little bit of a colder trail).

I hope this helps you; if it does, it will show that the forum is working!

By the way, I have accompanied this reply with an entirely gratuitous picture of Jaq - replendent in a gorgeous Marina Rinaldi coat...
 

 Victoria Hollis    Sunday 25 September 2011 at 16:40

 
OOOOHHHH fab coat (Tongue hanging out drooling lol)

I heard the Levee have gone over the last couple of months

Ummm thinking mid october might be too long a wait for a trip down....

 

Emma    Thursday 01 September 2011 at 15:40

 Post #240 



 
Subject: A singular shopping experience

In my blog I have always been careful to keep on message... this forum is designed to be a space where plus-size fashion is discussed. In my opinion, our fashion is almost never mentioned in the mainstream media, so it is well worth giving it a bit of space here on our humble website!

So I hope I am not letting myself down when I move off message to talk about a subject that to everyone else but us has absolutely nothing to do with larger womenswear.

I would like to talk about the area where our shop is situated: the North Laine in Brighton. I have been running this shop for over 20 years now, and when I first came here, I didnt really understand the significance of where we were. Yes, I realised that Brighton, as a destination town (which drew a huge number of visitors both from Britain and abroad) was a jolly good place to have a business that relied on people walking in our door. However, before I had worked here, I had never heard of the North Laine.

Of course, I knew of the Brighton Lanes, a lovely, quite chi-chi area of Brighton, famous for its tiny roads (the old fishermans lanes), and sweet little (somewhat tourist-orientated) shops. I guess that in my naivet, I had thought that the North Laine (which is just inland from the Lanes, within easy walking distance) was just another one of the lanes, albeit with a slightly different spelling. I had sometimes noticed, though, how the locals winced when the uninitiated visitor referred to it as the North Lanes (without an i, but with, heaven forbid, an s). Its a common mistake to make, although the Laine, is, in fact, far too singular a place to require an s.

In actuality the name does not have anything to do with roads or lanes; Laine is the old name for a field, and this particular field is one whose rich crop is shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, galleries, libraries, workshops, clubs, theatres, studios, commercial properties and general mixed activity, with the odd sumptuous palace (Brighton Pavilion) thrown in. Unlike the Lanes, there is only one North Laine... and it has an entirely unique character.

It is the haunt of performers (many and various venues are in the Laine), artists, media types, fashionistas, vegetarians, gays, foodies: rare and authentic characters, all. The area is the antithesis of the clone town, where all shops are part of a chain, and each road looks exactly the same. Here, the shops come and go, with a blink-and-youve-missed-it ethos that locals take as a given. Most of the businesses exist because their owners had a dream of what they wanted to present to the world, and many times this idea was without any rhyme or reason. Amazingly, some (but by no means all) of these businesses find their niche and survive.

The result is a kind of insouciance about what is on offer. For example, no-one turns a hair if the shoes on sale are completely weird and wacky, or superb hand-made originals... or vegetarian.

Someone may decide to run a hardware store here, but only if they can go berserk and make sure they sell everything possible, and have the best customer service in the western hemisphere.

If you fancy something to eat, you really can start to call the shots: would you like vegetarian? Certainly! Organic? Gluten free? Child friendly? Macro-biotic? Artisan-made? Locally sourced? Gourmet? Cheap and cheerful? The answer always seems to be yes, in an area that shouldnt be big enough to sustain all this diversity.

Nave is quite a good word to describe my relationship with the North Laine in the early days. Somehow, I thought it was just a co-incidence that a plus-size womenswear boutique had been opened here (I did not launch this store; I inherited it from its first owner), nor did I see it as part of the reason why our store had taken root and flourished.

It took me a while to start to look around at the Laine, and see it for what it was. Then the penny dropped as to the role our geographical situation has had in sustaining and nurturing our business. I see design, artistry, fashion, originality and quirkiness all around, as well as uncompromising specialists who have enthusiasm and really know their stuff. Had our shop been started somewhere else we may never have taken off. However, in coming here, I believe we found our natural home.

 

Emma    Monday 04 July 2011 at 00:09

 Post #223 



 
Subject: Fit

There is a subject that I cant help returning to in my blog. Its one that's very important, not just to me as a plus-size fashion retailer, but for me as a plus-size woman - and, I think, also for many women reading this page.

The subject is that of body shape. This is so important because it is Big Retails failure to deal with it that is responsible ultimately for the failure of the high street to provide the clothing choice necessary for plus-size women.

I would like you to imagine that I am - as indeed I am - a woman aged 50, and interested in fashion, yet with one vital difference: I have shrunk down to a size 12. In this situation our high streets would look very different to me. I would be able to buy my clothes in dozens of chain stores and thousands of independent shops - providing me with a rich tapestry of fashion options.

In the chain stores I could, for instance, buy from the cheap-and-cheerful fashion ranges like New Look, Hennes and Zara. Or, if I were looking for mid-range, I could have a quick look in Marks and Spencer, or scan Nexts range. Later, I could hop off to Warehouse and French Collection. Climbing up the price and style ladder, I could browse my way through Hobbs, Cos and Jaeger. There would be a huge variety of styles, quality and exciting fashion looks.

If I were in London - with the world my oyster - I could visit the big stores like Harrods, John Lewis, Liberty and Selfridges. I could spend days just doing these stores and come away loaded with great looks.

In the afternoon I could pop my nose round any one of any number of thousands of really lovely independent boutiques and see the latest in designer styles.

So why, if I have the same money in my pocket - and the same interest in fashion - am I (in reality a larger woman) not given these options? In our city, Brighton (my own shop aside), I would only be able to try on a tiny selection of items in New Look, a very few somewhat depressing pieces in Hennes, and some (frankly frustrating) clothes in Marks and Spencer. After that I would have to go only to stores that specialise in items made in plus sizes. In Brighton, these are Evans and Anne Harvey.

The price point of these stores is relatively low (I leave aside the issue of whether it is actually rather high in relation to the quality on offer). The fashion is disappointing and the quality can be frankly shocking. Im not criticising those stores for being what they are, any more than I am criticising Zara for being what it is - or, for that matter, Jaeger for being Jaeger. My question is this: the vast majority of clothing on offer for this half of the population is strikingly similar. Where is the variety?

In our business the received wisdom is that larger women dont want to pay for nice clothes... that, in some way, we dont really care about looking good or being fashionable... that any shop specialising in plus size fashion of higher quality, fashion and price, will fail.

In a funny kind of way, I agree with this analysis - but only up to a point. Many larger women simply wont pay for pricier clothes. But the reason for this is not what the industry thinks. In my opinion, the horrible supply and demand problems that afflict the plus-size fashion industry stem directly from the failure to address the fit problem.

If I were to take, say, a hundred size-12 women, they would all be different body shapes. Some would be apple shaped, some pear, some hourglass, some well-proportioned, some top-heavy, some athletic. This is what human females are like: we come in a range of shapes. However, with the size-12 women, the variance between them is small. Most of them would still be able to fit into the same clothes, even if they did not necessary all have the same silhouettes.

However, if I were to take a hundred size-22 women, the story would be strikingly different. Yes, they would have the same range of body shapes. Yet their body differences would be amplified. In this case there could easily be 10 whole inches of difference between women of the same size but different body shape. For instance, if I were a size-22 apple shape, my waist would be considerably larger than my pear shaped friend, who takes the same dress size. And my hips, in turn, would be much smaller than hers. Its quite possible that if an item of clothing fitted one of us, the other one simply wouldnt be able to do it up.

If I were forced to try to shoe-horn my friend and me into wearing clothes with the same fit, I would have to start thinking about a sloppy, unflattering, generic shape. It would be impossible for us to actually look fashionable, attractive or chic. And the number of styles that could be made to fit both of us would be small.

Were I to stumble into a shop that sold clothes with this kind of 'apathetic' fit and paucity of styles, I would rapidly start looking for the exit. But if, as is the situation in many towns in Britain, this were the only store that sold my size (and I really needed something to wear), then I would probably buy something.

One thing I would never do, however, is pay good money for clothing that is generic, sloppy and makes me look lack-lustre. Nor would I fork out for the same-old, same-old. I would happily have a little splurge on something beautiful that made me look and feel good... I love fashion and believe it is important to me as a person. Actually, I am rather prone to spending a little too much on fashion. But I baulk at paying out for something that does not inspire, delight or excite me.

As a population, we are getting bigger every year. The section of the population that wears plus-size clothing is not going to go away any time soon. And the big retail companies are all about exploiting markets to make money. Sooner or later, someone, somewhere has got to start to ponder why the plus-size fashion industry is so dysfunctional.

Dont get me wrong, its very good for my business that women get in their cars in Swansea, Billericay or Totnes - or even in Madrid (to travel to the airport) - and make their way into our shop. The desperation of our customers, who - fed up with having so little choice of clothing in their locality - decide to come to Emma Plus, is very good for business.

But as a plus-size woman myself, it makes my blood boil. Something really ought to be done about it! Even if it spoiled my own trade, I would be more than happy to offer help and advice to Big Retail to try to sort out their shortcomings. It simply cant go on the way it is.

 

 Kim P    Friday 08 July 2011 at 23:14

 
Great comments as always Emma. The easiest way to look like you have lost weight is to wear clothes that fit well and luckily there are plenty of such garments in Emma Plus!

 

 Emma    Monday 11 July 2011 at 00:20

 
Hi Kim!

Yes, it's an interesting point you make... I've had numerous customers over the years who have told me that friends or family have found it very difficult to believe that they are plus-size women, despite the obvious fact that they are!

Eventually, we have come to the conclusion that, to many small people, being large is synonimous with being badly dressed and presented. As soon as a woman looks gorgeous, they forget that she is plus-size, and find they simply can't believe she is, even when the fact is pointed out to them!

 

Emma    Wednesday 08 June 2011 at 08:47

 Post #220 



 
Subject: Cheaper parking for early birds

 
Here's another great reason for visiting Emma Plus - cheaper parking at the NCP right next door...!



Print flyer

 

 Kim P    Wednesday 08 June 2011 at 20:53

 
The image of the flyer isn't showing, but anything that reduces those charges is a great thing!

 

 Webmaster    Wednesday 08 June 2011 at 21:23

 
Sorry Kim - the flyer image wasn't showing for 'noflash' users, but this has now been fixed.

 

 Kim P    Wednesday 08 June 2011 at 22:55

 
That's a good deal, especially in the warmer weather. Get into Brighton early, take a long walk along the sea front, a nice breakfast nearby and then shopping at Emma Plus!

 

 Emma    Thursday 09 June 2011 at 11:59

 
Yes, Kim....there are so many lovely cafes in Brighton open at that time. It would be perfect for 'early birds' to drive to Brighton whilst there is no traffic (I know from personal experience that the roads are perfectly clear at that time), and find a really convenient space in the car park (there is ample choice then).

Then, to spend as long in town as you would like for 5, really is a good deal.

 

Emma    Monday 30 May 2011 at 20:45

 Post #219 



 
Subject: Ker-ching!

In keeping with my habit of rushing in where angels fear to tread, I have decided to write on the subject that most designer store owners try their best to avoid... price.

Over the years there is a story that I have come across many times. This is when a woman comes into our shop for the very first time, even though she has known about us for several years. She has been curious, but has diligently avoided actually entering our portals.

Her friends or family have been trying to drag her in, and she has always resisted. Eventually something has forced her to come to us. It could be a family wedding that has driven her (after many fruitless and depressing hours trawling just about everywhere on the high street) into the shop as a last resort. Or it could be that she has decided that the only way she is ever going to stop her sister going on about us, is to give in and pay us a visit.

Then something magical happens - she is stunned and delighted. She buys all sorts of lovely items. She rushes up to us, and tells us that she wishes she had come in before. After this first experience she becomes one of our regulars.

I couldnt begin to tell you how many times this particular scenario has been run and re-run in our shop. I appreciate that this sounds like an advertorial; an attempt to sell our service to any customers who read the blog. I genuinely dont intend that to be the case.

In fact, I am happy to suggest that this experience is not unique to Emma Plus. I feel certain that this is something mirrored by every good designer shop in the country. It speaks volumes about the way women, and in particular larger women, feel about designer clothing.

For many it is an expensive indulgence that they are not permitted, and should avoid at all costs. People think they do not deserve designer clothes. And some are afraid even to take a look inside a shop like ours.

The kind of clothes we sell are not cheap. They are not impulse buys. Many of them may cost twice - or more - the price of their high-street counterparts...

But exactly what kind of prices I am referring to? As I have said, many of our items do have a steep price-point. The most expensive collections, like, say, Marina Rinaldi (from the superb fashion stable Max Mara) or Anna Scholz (arguably the best-ever plus-size designer) can be expensive. Although Anna Scholzs Black Label collection has a price-point that is not too far from the high street, her White Label collection can provide, for example, dresses which will set you back 400 or more, and Marina Rinaldi is priced at about the same level. Any decision to buy pieces from this end of the market had better be well considered.

Purchasing at the top end of the market is not a rich womans game, however. Items from these designers are investment pieces. Often they will be bought for special occasions: a sisters wedding, a special party, a reward for a promotion. But these clothes will be incredibly fashion-forward, beautifully tailored and well-made. They will be your friends, and you will joyfully turn to them on many happy occasions over a number of years. By the time you have had your last wear out of them, you may find that they are the cheapest per-wear item that you have had all along. And then you might even sell them on eBay!

But a good designer plus-size store does not only sell high-end fashion. There will be a host of mid-range fashion as well, from companies such as NP (the Finnish collection that has specialised in plus-fashion since 1925) or Verpass (a German range that is really hitting its stride at the moment with 1950s inspired design). Prices start at about 65 for a blouse, and many of these items will be as well cut as the top-end clothing. They are extremely utilitarian, being comfortable, washable, durable, yet stylish. It is in these ranges that we often see amazing fabric innovation. Years before anyone else was putting stretch into fabrics such as cotton or linen, these were the ranges that were trailblazing, as they are now with the new body-cooling fabrics.

Again, items bought at mid-range prices are good long-term investments. These are usually clothes expected to perform as smart everyday pieces (often workwear) over quite a long period of time. They have to be reliable.

I think what shocks the uninitiated, however, is the low-end of our price range. We sell items from collections like Brand (the brilliant German house famed for its trousers) and Nanso (a Swedish range of beautifully colourful jersey items), and these prices are very accessible. Starting at 49 for its tops (which are amazing quality - these gorgeous tops really are bullet-proof), Nanso has its own keen following amongst our customers. When priced against the high-street these items are only a degree or so higher, yet their look is a million miles away.

I believe that when we begin to think of ourselves as the very people for whom all this wonderful fashion is being created, at every price-point, we will rush into the designer shops to see what's on the menu. We may not be able to afford everything we want, all the time. But that doesnt matter, because, whatever we cant get in this season, there will be something equally lovely for us in the next. And the purchases we have made will still be there to mix-in with our wardrobe, which over the years will build to become our style fingerprint.

The value of that individual, beautiful, unique resource is - as it is worn on our back every day of our lives - incalculable. This is how we are seen by the world. And yes, I believe it is worth the time and the investment.

 

 Kathy    Wednesday 01 June 2011 at 14:55

 
I totally unreservedly agree with Emma
I love clothes, I love shopping and my wardrobe is brimming with items that cost a bit less and were worn a lot less then that.
I rarely throw things out so I live with all my mistakes....
Take it from me - quality delivers and it is worth the money.
I am still wearing clothes from Emma's that I bought ten years ago...
Sure have fun for a season - and buy the thin fabric high street Tee in a seasonal tangerine... but come next summer it will sit unloved and unworn... and a waste of money!
Better spend your hard earned cash on Emma's lovely wearable durable clothes.
Money saving tip- shop her sales... divine and at very attractive prices!!!

 

 Emma    Wednesday 01 June 2011 at 17:04

 
Hi Kathy!

Thank you so much for your contribution!

You are one of our most stylish customers (and, we are talking about an extremely stylish body of women), and I do really appreciate hearing your views!

 

 Victoria Hollis    Wednesday 01 June 2011 at 22:54

 
Hi Emma and the lovely ladies at the shop......

I just wanted to stick my nose in on this one - apologies in advance lol if it's a bit long winded....

The cost per wear issue is a good one all of us want to wtach the pennies at times BUT there is no point in spending a minor fortune on a high fashion item wearing it once feeling uncomfortable and then hiding it at the bottom of the wardrobe.

The fact is there are a great many larger ladies, bbw's or whatever we choose to label ourselves as who think they don't deserve nice clothes and use that horrid phrase "oh I will buy something like that when I lose weight"

Buy yourself that gorgeous dress now......You will feel fantastic.

Anna Sholz for example her clothes are TIMELESS and frequently multi seasonal for example her summer maxi dresses can easily be wintered up with knee high boots (duo go upto a very large calf size) and one of her gorgeous cardies and coat (ummmm fallen in love with the pink once you wore in your pic Em)

We deserve to look good and feel great

 

 Emma    Thursday 02 June 2011 at 23:45

 
Hi Tory-

I couldn't agree more! I think that sometimes there is one small advantage to making a more substantial purchase...that the decision has to be a considered one.

Often it simply isn't worth having that 'high fashion' tangerine top, if it doesn't suit either your body or your personality.....

 

 Kim P    Saturday 04 June 2011 at 21:51

 
The Brand and Nanso ranges are very good value, as you say Emma they are not much more expensive than regular High St prices but are well styled and a little different to what you'll see elsewhere.

 

 Victoria Hollis    Friday 17 June 2011 at 16:20

 
The tangerine thing this season is VILE I know very few women who can get away with that shade I have to say Anna Scholz's coral dresses are far more flattering

 

Emma    Monday 02 May 2011 at 21:42

 Post #213 



 
Subject: Meet Anna Scholz Day...

Here in the shop we are getting very excited about the upcoming Meet Anna Scholz Day, which is happening on Saturday (the 7th May).

We are expecting the Anna Scholz Spring/Summer range any minute now, and are really looking forward to seeing all the clothes that we dont already have in stock. Her range is so large that no shop can realistically stock it all that is except us, just on that one day!

I think it would probably be a good idea to talk about the logistics of visiting us on the day. In the morning (between 8.30am and 1pm) our road, Church Street, is closed for the yearly Childrens Parade. This shouldnt really affect our visitors, as there are a couple of ways to bypass the diversions.

The first one is that many attendees of our special day will come after the road re-opens at 1pm, because Anna is arriving in store at 2pm and will be here until we close at 5pm.

Those wanting to come in the morning (and get first dibs at the refreshments and clothing range) could either park in the Churchill Square car park, which is unaffected by the road closure, or could follow the following diversions...

When coming into Brighton (down the London Road) drive as far as Preston Circus traffic lights (where the fire station is). Then take a right turn up New England Road.

Drive right up to the top of that road, until you come to a kind of roundabout (Seven Dials) and take the first left.

This road leads you past Brighton Station (Queens Road). Follow this all the way down to the bottom (The Clocktower).

Take a left (North Street), and drive a few hundred yards down the hill, watching out for Bond Street, on your left. Take this road (its been reversed for the day).

At the end of Bond Street, is our own dear Church Street, turn left and you are virtually there at our car park.

I would recommend doing this; it sounds involved, but it isnt, and will be a neat and fast way of bypassing any other Saturday morning traffic. The car park may in fact be mostly empty, because not everyone will know about this ruse, so it will be rather convenient.

Arriving in the morning would mean you will have more time to browse the collection. Plus, there is the prospect of watching the Childrens Parade, which is spectacular!

Everyone is welcome on the day, but anyone wanting to be put into our prize draw (250 worth of Anna Scholz fashion to be won, with no purchase necessary), should pre-register, by either emailing us, or calling 01273 327240.

We look forward to seeing you on the day...

 

 Kim P    Thursday 05 May 2011 at 14:47

 
I'm sure the day will be a fantastic success and a great opportunity for everyone to see the beautiful clothes, meet such a renowned designer and the equally renowned ladies at Emma Plus! I wish I was able to attend but look forward to reading all about the day on this blog. Best wishes Kim.

 

 Emma    Friday 06 May 2011 at 14:56

Hi Kim!

Thank you so much for your good wishes...I wish you could be here. We are getting ridiculously excited about it now.

The Anna Scholz stock has arrived, and we are running about like mad things trying everything on (forget the shop, we have to think about what we want for ourselves!!), and changing everything around ahead of the big day.....
 

Christine Prosser    Friday 18 March 2011 at 14:10

 Post #201 



 
Subject: Thank You

 
Hello Emma

Just a note to thank you all for your help and advice on Saturday

Drove down from Wales on Saturday morning looking for something to wear to my son's wedding in August. No idea what to expect but hoping for the best I was not dissapointed

In no time at all I had a rack of clothes waiting to be tried on, believe me a rare treat when you're a plus size I honestly don't think I could have found a better selection anywhere else. I particularly appreciated the help and advice you gave me and the way you were able to suggest things I would never have tried on in a million years I am now the proud owner of a 'capsule wardrobe' in the making and can't wait to clear out all my old stuff to make room for some more of the lovely Elena Grunert.

Once again thank you all for a most enjoyable visit and in the words of a famous movie star 'I'll be back'

Regards

Chris

 

 Emma    Friday 18 March 2011 at 14:20

 
Hi Christine!

Thank you so much for your lovely comments....I love my job!

It was such a great pleasure to meet you on Saturday. Years ago, it was rare for someone to travel such a distance to come here, and I used to be on tenderhooks as to whether we had enough choice available to warrant such an investment of time! Now, however, we find many women travel the length and breadth of the country to come here....hopefully with happy results such as yours!

I was interested to hear of your troubles in posting your comments on this blog. Apparently, our 'spam filter' kept deleting your message, so you sent it to me via email, and I was more than happy to put it on our forum (I am able to by-pass the filter). If any other contributors have similar experiences, they may be interested to know how you circumvented this problem!

 

Yvonne    Friday 23 July 2010 at 16:40

 Post #147 



 
Subject: Visit to your store

 
Hi Emma,

I was in your store yesterday and loved it, I was the Scottish girl who loved purple. I absolutely love the top that i purchased it was perfect for flying home last night.

I would love a couple of dresses for the summer, but most i have seen are maxi dresses which being 5ft3 are not ideal. Any suggestions?

P.S. thanks for your help yesterday, fancy opening a branch up here?

 

 Emma    Saturday 24 July 2010 at 12:08

 
Hi Yvonne

Thank you for your lovely post! It was great to meet you yesterday.

Your question about summer dresses is an interesting one. I would suggest that a woman like yourself should consider the current fashion of 'short dress/long top' with leggings.

There were quite a few examples of this style around this summer (as you know, it's now a little late in the season to find summer dresses), and there will be more coming in for the winter collections.

These are usually jersey, but can be made of any fabric - including knits in the winter. They are normally knee-length, and many of them have a somewhat high waist. Care should be taken not to get them too baggy and shapeless, or the body will look disproportionate when this top is teamed with close-fitting leggings on the bottom half.

This is a great look for tall women and shorter women alike, as the trouser or legging shapes can be tweaked to alter the silhouette for different bodies. Don't be put off the idea of this style... when you get used to the slightly different look, you'll grow to love it.

The other thing I would suggest is not necessarily to dismiss the maxi-dress for the shorter woman. If it is shapely, if the proportions are right (and there are so many different permutations that it may take some time to get the correct one), and if the dress is shortened to a flattering length, this look can appear to lengthen the body, creating a sleeker look.

 

Emma    Friday 09 July 2010 at 17:44

 Post #144 



 
Subject: Cool?

This is the first summer I have experienced with properly functioning air-conditioning, and to be honest it is something I am having to get used to.

Years ago I used to work in high street stores, and they always had air conditioning - a strange system which entailed the recycling of rather stale air, dismally wafted in a lukewarm stream around the shop floor to the accompaniment of a distant droning sound. In fact, the gentle drifting of the hot summer air, the lazy flicking back and forth of the clothing labels in the arid breeze, and the mechanical drumming noise, were the only indications that the building was making any pretence at climate control.

I have always been a larger person, and - in marked contrast to my mostly tiny colleagues - it always seemed to be me that was feeling the heat. I used to tell myself I was not perspiring profusely, but merely glowing - as befitted a lady. Unfortunately, I did seem to be glowing rather a lot.

Earlier this year when I was planning our refit, I was told about a new heating and cooling unit that was so efficient that I could use the air-conditioning function without the usual ecological guilt-trip. Having had such a long experience of so-called air conditioning, I didnt think it was going to make any real difference to my life, but I thought I would give it a go.

We have had a succession of somewhat lack-lustre summers, so it has been some time since we really sweltered in the shop. I had almost lost hope of having a really beautiful summer ever again in my lifetime, so this year has been a revelation.

Our new air-conditioning system has been truly fantastic. When you walk through the door into the shop, the blast of cold air hits you straight away. If you have been walking the sunny streets of Brighton for some time, you may still be quite warm for, say, ten minutes or so. Then you start to radically cool down. After a very short period of time you start to forget you were ever overheated.

Nowadays, I do not tend to feel the heat as much as my colleagues (were almost all larger women here!), so I tend to be overruled when it comes to choosing the temperature. On several of the hottest days I have had goose bumps and have had to put a cardigan on.

Our customers have been ecstatic. It's such a stoke of luck; we obtained a fantastically effective air-conditioning unit in the very year that we have had a scorching summer. Perfect.

 

Elizabeth Shaw    Tuesday 30 March 2010 at 01:34

 Post #126 



 
Subject: wedding outfit for lady size 22 in wheel chair

 
Looking for mother of the groom outfit In a wheel chair
looking for trousers and a nice bright top and jacket with out looking like an American football player. As I will be sat in the chair the whole time. The trousers can not be too tight down leg due to tube. The wedding will be in June, i hope you can help by suggesting what to get and what to wear with it on my head Hats get in the way of the person pushing me. Thank you

 

 Emma    Tuesday 30 March 2010 at 12:15

Hi Elizabeth

Thank you so much for your enquiry, and congratulations on your happy event! You will be glad to know that you have come to the right place! We have many customers who use wheelchairs, so we always make sure to have just the right kind of outfits to suit their needs. The size you mention (size 22) is towards the smaller end of our sizes, and all our range is stocked in that size.

If you were thinking of visiting us by car, the good news is that (with your badge) you will be able to park right outside our store - and access into the front of the shop couldnt be easier. We are an easy shop to navigate, and - should you require assistance in accessing anything at any time - our staff are experienced enough to give you all the help you need.

We have several ranges of beautiful, brightly coloured jackets at the moment - some plain, some patterned. I would hesitate to recommend a particular one to you without seeing you first - the choice is simply too great! From what you say about American football players Im guessing that you have problems with wide shoulders (like most of us). The good news is that we have sourced a number of items with narrower and/or less padded shoulders. In any case, we usually ensure items are specially fitted to you, so the fit is perfect.

A perfect jacket for a wheelchair user should be soft, with some structure and shape, but not too nipped-in at the waist. It should be of a minimal-crease fabric, and the shape should not be too full. We have a great selection to choose from that meet these criteria.

When it comes to trousers, I have found that three particular aspects should be borne in mind. Firstly, it is best to have a slight 'stretch' fabric. Im not talking about anything too stretchy and flimsy, but a good medium-weight fabric with enough stretch for them to keep their shape and fall well from the knee. Then I would select trousers with stretch at the waistband for comfort. I would also be looking for trousers that are not too narrow (this can be unflattering on the legs as you rightly observe), but not too wide and floaty (which can foul the wheels).

To match the outfits that we have in the store, we have a fantastic selection of 'fascinators'. These are like hats, but much easier to wear, as they fit to the head like a hairband (see picture). They are light, so do not disrupt ones hairstyle, and are not too large - so will not get in anyone elses way. Those we have selected have proportions that particularly suit larger women, and are in colours that go with our range. They have been very popular, so I feel sure you will be pleased when you get the chance to try one on.

I would urge that you try to come into the store as soon as you can. Even if you leave visiting us to later in the season we have so many items that there will always be something lovely for you, but some styles are already selling out. In order to get the pick of everything, it is a good idea to be the 'early bird'...
 

Emma    Wednesday 27 January 2010 at 20:16

 Post #111 



 
Subject: Refit photographs (cont.)

This piccie just shows a through view of the store...

For more (and larger) pictures you can go to our 'Our Service' page (accessed via our homepage). At the bottom of this there's a link to 'More Services... and latest store photos'. If you click that, some more pictures will pop up - and scrolling down will bring even more into view.

 

Emma    Wednesday 27 January 2010 at 20:04

 Post #110 



 
Subject: Refit photographs

This shot is a detail which shows the new wallpaper and mirrors...

 

Emma    Monday 25 January 2010 at 22:46

 Post #108 



 
Subject: Our lovely new look

 
This is just a very hurried post to whet the appetite of our customers about the results of our refit.

We re-open the new-look store tomorrow (the 26th January), and I am so delighted with it. Im not going to describe the look here (Im hoping to take some photographs of it and put them on the blog as soon as possible, and as you know, a picture paints a thousand words!).

It is so much better than I had ever hoped, and I am thrilled with the lovely light, fresh and arty new look...

We re-open tomorrow morning at 10.00am. We are starting off with a low-key opening (we are going to be doing some fabulous fashion events very soon), but to mark this first day of the new store we will be enjoying a glass of champagne with those who care to join us at about 11.15am tomorrow. All readers of this forum are cordially invited!

 

Emma    Wednesday 13 January 2010 at 20:00

 Post #105 



 
Subject: The refit

Here is a photo of our beautiful new store, as it looked today, a third of the way through our refit.

Resplendent in the middle of all the chaos is one of our workmen, the electrician, Sean, enjoying his natural habitat.

Hmmm... I hope it looks rather better than this by the time we re-open on 26th January!

 

Emma    Monday 30 March 2009 at 23:50

 Post #23 



 
Subject: Disabled access

Having been asked many times about disabled access to our shop, I think it would be worthwhile discussing this subject on the forum/blog.

As I have mentioned before, our shop is right next door to a big NCP car park (called the Theatre Car Park). In the lower level there is a bank of disabled parking spaces and from there small, accessible ramps lead out on to the road behind - i.e. Church Street, our road.

Just a matter of feet away is our front door, which is wide and has only a small step. I have never known any wheelchair user to have a problem accessing this door, but we are always on hand to help.

Our shop is quite spacious (for an independent shop), and the rails are set out in such a way that it is easy to travel around. If someone needs a chair, there is always one on offer (a good, sturdy comfortable chair, of course!). We are always there to help with the selection of clothes.

Many of our customers have a visual impairment, and we are past masters at helping to put together outfits for specific purposes.

Our shop is far from perfect. There is no disabled toilet, and to our chagrin there are four steps up to the counter, so it does happen that many of our wheelchair-using customers never actually make it to the payment area (this does not pose a problem, normally, because we have a cordless card reader that can reach anywhere in the store).

When we had our recent refit, we were able to install a changing room that is accessible to wheelchair users. However, we find that most wheelchair-using customers prefer to take advantage of a particular service we offer to them if they prefer not to try on items in store. Usually, we do not offer refunds - if a customer decides she wants to return something because she has changed her mind, we would normally offer either an exchange or a credit note. With our customers who have mobility issues, however, we allow them to purchase items and try them on at home, returning them for a refund if they prove inappropriate.

It is worth mentioning that because we tend to have many disabled customers, and because we have generally had the same staff for many years, we have a wealth of experience. We have a pretty good idea about many of the issues involved in the necessary performance of clothing for disabled women. Were good at offering physical assistance; we can help with measurements, and provide advice about fit. Items can be specially altered to suit womens requirements, and women are welcome to bring in items bought from elsewhere to take advantage of our alteration expertise.

Disabled women have been our loyal customers from the very first days we opened Emma Plus, and they have been among the backbone of our customer base. We hope always to continue to build this valuable relationship.

 
 

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