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Vintage Style Gifts and MeggyMoos






Digger talks to Debbie who runs Vintage Style Gifts and MeggyMoos, two websites specialising in retro and vintage-style and shabby chic accessories for the home. 


Vintage Style Gifts






Debbie: Hello. MeggyMoos?

Digger: Hello Debbie. How are things there?

Debbie:  Very good thanks.

Digger: Can you tell us the background to MeggyMoos and Vintage Style Gifts and how and why you formed these enterprises?

Debbie: MeggyMoos started completely by accident, actually. I’d gone to a trade show with a friend because we’d sourced some enamel containers. You know the sort you get now with coffee, tea, sugar, dog food? We found these sets and had a look around and I thought “There’s a nice business to be had here.” We were looking at shabby chic and vintagey gifts, which were the kind of thing I’ve always been into. My house is full of this anyway. And I thought “Ooh, I could be selling this. I love it.” And really it’s just started from there. It started out quite small and I was just doing parties at people’s houses. We’ve got the big Norwich and Norfolk Hospital which is fairly new up here, and you can use the rental unit once a month and turn it into your own shop for the day. Word just spread and we kind of took on more stock and were sourcing more and more shabby chic and vintagey stuff and got more into the retro stuff. We did parties for a couple of years and charity events, fundraising events, school events and that sort of thing. Then people kept saying to me “Have you got a website? Where can I get this?”

Digger: Were you doing anything else at the time?

Debbie: I was working in a garden centre actually, part-time.

Digger: Because they often have a little area to sell home stuff?

Debbie: Yes they do and this one didn’t and I convinced Jack the owner there that I would have a little gift shop that I would fill it and he would just take a commission. So I bought a little cabin/summer house and turned it into a treasure trove of things that people liked. Then I found three or four more shops where I did the same thing. So there were lots of areas where I was selling, but still people were asking about the website. In the end I thought “Hmm, that’s obviously the way to go. Do that.” It’s a great way to promote - doing the parties and being out and about and spreading the  word about your website. Obviously giving out cards and promotional leaflets.

Digger: Is there much competition for this on the web?

Debbie: There is quite a lot of competition because it’s popular and continuing to be very popular.






Digger: Yes, if you go out for a drive and into the villages there will always be two or three shops or country retail centres that sell a bit of vintage look.

Debbie: Yes, yes. I was quite lucky here in Norwich because there wasn’t anything. There are a few now – some shops have sprung up in Norwich itself. I used to live in Surrey, and when I go back to Surrey to see family there are loads of shops that sell this kind of thing. I got in quite early here. We have been up here eleven years now and we have three children, my husband commutes to London. We thought we’d move up here before the kids got bigger.

Digger: What’s the differences between MeggyMoos and Vintage Style Gifts?

Debbie: Vintage Style Gifts came along because I’ve got a very good website designer and we’ve got quite a good close working relationship now. Just about a year ago we were looking for a name for a different website entirely and got sidetracked and found Vintage Style Gifts was available. So really it was as simple as that and I thought it does what it says on the box, basically. It was a good one. There are now different things on both but a lot is the same and with the way The Internet works it means you get found from different areas and that’s the beauty of The Internet – you can market it in all kinds of different ways and you’re not just stuck to your one window on the high street. Retro has come in more for us in the last year because it is getting more and more popular and retro is vintage really.

Digger: Dinosaurs are retro strictly speaking. (Laughs)

Debbie: Exactly, yes.  People say “What’s the difference?” and I say “One is the other – retro is vintage and vintage is retro.”

Digger: Some people get snotty about it – I was talking to a gentleman the other day who runs a 20th century furniture store and he said he didn’t want to be seen as retro and I said “Why, what is it then if not retro?” and he said “Because retro means such and such.” And I said “Maybe to you and some people, but to others it means something different.” He said “But they’re not right.” And I said “Well, you have to go with what most people think and if they think 20th century is retro, then it’s retro.” If you’re in business then you have to go with the flow.

Debbie: You can’t pigeon-hole yourself otherwise you’re cutting off a whole market.

Digger: That’s right.

Debbie: I think people have a picture in their heads of what retro is – funky colours, the sixties and so on. The lovely old radios which I really like and they think that’s retro but you can take it as far back or near as you want to.

Digger: Why is retro and vintage perennially popular?

Debbie: I think it’s an easy kind of style to take on board for a start, especially vintage and retro. It’s comfortable for me and this is our style of house – it’s all comfortable and a bit shabby chic and some of it’s distressed so you don’t feel that you have to be too precious about it. It’s not minimalistic – doesn’t have to look sharp and clean and pristine which is hard to achieve especially if you have a big family with dogs running round. I don’t quite understand how families can live in a minimalistic style if they’re living everyday life. (Laughs) Unless it’s just our house! I think it’s a lot to do with that and you can dig something out that’s been hanging around in a cupboard – you can revive it with a coat of paint or use something that you used to look at and say “Oh God” but now looks great against something you bought more recently maybe.

Digger: As long as we never go back to the seventies where we had floral wallpaper, floral carpets and floral chairs and it was horrible. And the shirts as well, so that it looked like an explosion in a pizza parlour.

Debbie: The beauty of it now is that people can pick up maybe one or two pieces – a lovely old lampshade made of vintage fabric maybe and fit it into something that’s a bit more bland and a bit more easy on the eye. And you kind of have a modern look with a vintage twist.

Digger: One of my clients, who does restorations of jukeboxes, he has a client with a warehouse apartment with very modern furniture and in the corner is a jukebox.

Debbie: I bet that works really well.

Digger: He said it looks fantastic.

Debbie:  Yeah. If you’ve got a loft-style apartment that can be quite modern but if it’s got lovely old brickwork and a bit of wood and you stick something really vintage or retro in it then it stands out and makes a real statement. You can go and root around your parents’ attic...  

Digger: I know. So long as it doesn’t become clutter.

Debbie: Exactly, yeah. I think people got a lot more wise to it and it’s a nicer style now.

Digger: I’m sitting here with forties and fifties movie posters on the wall but it’s a real mix – modern items like a new sound system and some refurbished old furniture and a few retro items like an old phone and some framed photos of The Beatles.

Debbie: Yeah, I think that kind of thing looks really good. A beaten up old leather sofa maybe or some nice old fabric.

Digger: If I use a sofa it soon ends up beaten up and squashy. (Both laugh) So what do you most enjoy about what you do?

Debbie: I think actually it’s the buying and the sourcing and if you find something a bit different. On MeggyMoos over the past two weeks we’ve started to develop a Fabulously British section. Because I do come across a lot of people who make their own, or have them made, but it’s all made here in the UK and that really excites me. I think wow, it’s all being made here, you’ve handmade these things and I’m kind of agog at people that can do that sort of thing. Which is really nice. I quite like sourcing new things and think “Ooh, I’d quite like one of those in my house. If I like it…”

Digger: Also, I suppose it satisfies your need to do shopping without the need to part with your own cash as it were?

Debbie: It does, and on the other side of it I still do parties and it’s great – selling on the web is great but you don’t get the customer contact so I’m still doing parties and fund raisers and that sort of thing. You meet your customers as well which is really nice and get good feedback.

Digger: That is important, of course. You reacted to the feedback when people mentioned the web and it didn’t take you long to realise that if they’re asking about it a lot then maybe I should be doing it.

Debbie: Exactly. It is important because it helped me move on. I think maybe it’s easy to be selling something that you really love but not actually selling it that often. But because you love it you keep flogging it (laughs) until suddenly you think “Why have you still got those there?”

Digger: No, you have to stand back every once in a while and ask yourself what is it that you’re trying to achieve? If you’re spending 90% of your time making 10% of your profit then you need to re-evaluate what you are doing and concentrating on the profit-making aspects.

Debbie: Yes.

Digger: What are your best sellers?

Debbie: For a while, although it trailed off for a bit but now perhaps has taken off again is all the retro mugs. They have got raspberry jelly or Fab lolly designs on them by an artist called Martin Wiscombe and they are all very retro – spotted dick and jam roly-poly designs and all that sort of thing. And people just love them and they produced with a kind of distressed finish although they are all china and we sell load and loads of those. They do cake tins and jugs and teapots as well.




Digger: It would be nice if we could find English restaurants in every town doing plain good English pies and puddings in the same way as there’s an Indian and a Chinese and an Italian in every town.

Debbie: Yes, the ones there are tend to try to do it up a bit too much and make it too full of style. I know what you mean.

Digger: Maybe there’s a market there?

Debbie: Perhaps so. We’re working in conjunction at the moment with a shop in Windsor called Diva – it’s a clothes shop and she started selling my stuff for me about a year ago and it did really well. She had a room at the back that sells ball gowns and it was very seasonal. So with another friend who is running a tea shop we opened up a vintage tea shop where she serves everything on vintage crockery that she has found at boot sales and antique fairs. The old vintage table cloths, all the vintage goods are hung around the place and lovely home made cakes on the three–tiered cake stands. You can go in for afternoon tea with a pot of tea and a three-tiered cake stand with sandwiches and cakes on. I’m in there sometimes and I see three girls and they’ve got one each! I don't know how they manage that. She charges £6.95 for.

Digger: That’s not bad at all.

Debbie: You’re getting a couple of rounds of sandwiches, two or three slices of cake which are enormous and a pot of tea. It’s not bad at all and she’s inundated – she’s so busy. It’s a nice atmosphere and quite tiny and cosy.

Digger: We have a similar place here which I call ‘my club’ where you get a great bacon sandwich and the place is like something out of the fifties. But all of the waitresses seem to be rather bad tempered, which I find hilarious. The customers are very friendly but the staff a bit brusque!

Debbie:  You wonder if they really don’t enjoy being there.

Digger: The owner obviously doesn’t care about the impression they give. So what are your plans for both of the businesses Debbie?

Debbie: It all comes under the umbrella of MeggyMoos – I would love to just grow and grow and I just want to see how far I can take it.

Digger: You’re doing alright in these uncertain times.

Debbie: We’ve had a kind of steady growth throughout this year which is good. I look at our orders sometimes and the number of orders hasn’t increased that much but the value of each order has increased an awful lot, which is quite interesting. And it does make me think perhaps we are missing out on sales somewhere.

Digger: Your tactic of having several different sites is a good one and I know a lot of clients that have done that successfully.

Debbie: I think you could be searching for the same item on both of my sites and they will come up in a different area. It's a good way to attract more people and we often find both sites listed for the search term two or three times, so you’re capturing virtually the whole first page quite often.

Digger: Do you sell on Amazon or eBay?

Debbie: No. I dabbled on Amazon but I think people think of that as books, music and electricals.

Digger: I have a client who does well on Amazon and comes up for many of his products as the first result. He has a huge warehouse and runs the business for six months of the year from Spain.

Debbie: That’s the way to do it.

Digger: Most people will click on his result.

Debbie: Wow.

Digger: He started when someone gave him forty glasses with Coke branding on them and he sold them on eBay for a good profit. He realised that he could turn that into a way of selling other retro items and now he does, mainly on Amazon.

Debbie: It makes you wonder. eBay is inundated with…

Digger: There is a lot of rubbish on there and it’s had to separate the quality from the inferior. I think it devalues the good stuff.

Debbie: Yes, I think so and I can find people selling the same stuff as me almost at cost price and I don’t know how they do it. Do they do it for the fun of it? But then my stuff looks really dear next to it. You have to factor in your postage and time to parcel it up and send it off and all the admin and overheads. I’m not sure how some people make it worthwhile.

Digger: The good thing is that you have your themed websites and people are finding you. Long may it continue Debbie.

Debbie: Thanks David.







Vintage Style Gifts - Vintage and Retro style Accessories 

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Vintage Style Gifts is an on-line boutique offering a fabulous range of  Vintage and Retro style Accessories for you and your home. Inspired by our own love of anything with a Vintage feel, we are constantly on the look out for more Vintage inspired accessories and gifts that really do help turn a house into a much loved home.

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