This month, as part of our ‘Meet Our Retailers’ series, we’re meeting Kirstie Elderkin, co-owner of Elderkin & Son. A family business established in 1880 and spanning 5 generations, the company is a renowned gunsmiths based in Spalding, Lincolnshire. Not only that, but they also stock a beautiful collection of country lifestyle clothing and accessories, including - you guessed it - our bags!
Married to William Elderkin for 27 years, Kirstie more recently decided to ‘take [her] love of clothing, footwear, bags and accessories and combine it with buying for the shop… win win!’. Here’s the story in her words.
In three words, Kirstie would describe Elderkin & Son as ‘unique, traditional and, most importantly, friendly’. Her friendliness certainly radiates off her when talking about her and her husband’s business. William is the 5th generation to run it, and it has seen many changes since its beginnings. ‘It originally started with the selling of cloth for milliners, and then it became a hardware store before we turned our hands to gun making. The business developed a large in-house workshop and became a shotgun specialist in the 1920s’.
But Elderkin Country Lifestyle, the clothing side of the shop, is Kirstie’s bread and butter. Having always sold Barbour outdoor clothing and having held their Schoffel account for over 25 years, Kirstie decided ‘we were missing a trick. Our predominantly male customers were coming in with their wives, girlfriends and female friends to buy their sporting guns, but we weren't catering for those women whose interests were outside of the sport!’.
Kirstie took this bright idea and looked to stock more clothes and accessories. ‘Lovely coats, a pair of Dubarry Boots, Le Chameau wellingtons… this is where I found myself really wanting to take this side of the business under my wing (and of course, I need to wear the goods to promote them!)’.
The business has now been expanding their clothing and accessories range for over 15 years, and in the last 5 years the market ‘has seen a real resurgence, becoming fashionable for city as well as country folk’. Why is it important to Kirstie? ‘High quality stylish clothing is warm, practical, going to last more than a season and more importantly do the job it is intended to do’.
Kirstie beams with pride about her self-described ‘old fashioned shop with a wooden till’ which has become ‘all modern - with even a Facebook and Instagram page!’.
‘I’m immensely proud of our family business and the people who work for us, not only in our workshop, but on the shop floor too. They too are family. I’m incredibly passionate about what I do and I’m always on the lookout for new and upcoming brands. It’s so important as my name is over the door that the quality of the brands we stock speak for themselves’.
So, how did Kirstie’s passion for high quality brands lead her to us? ‘Earlier this year, I knew we had a gap I wanted to fill. I wanted a new range of beautiful handbags from a quintessential British brand, a brand that was born out of quality craftsmanship’.
Kirstie emailed us and the rest is history. Elderkin became one of our very few select stockists - ‘To say I squealed out loud would be an understatement’, says Kirstie! ‘A meeting was arranged in March, where we chose the styles and colours of bags and accessories we wanted to have in our shop (which was no mean feat). It was just so exciting and soon after we took our first delivery!’.
When searching for brands, Kirstie sometimes gives into temptation and chooses something for herself. ‘The Cambridge Satchel Co. has so many gorgeous bags to choose from in so many colours. It was difficult to choose but having followed them for many many years, I knew I had to choose The Doctor’s Bag in Ivy. I love a big bag, and from the moment I clapped eyes on it, I knew it had to be mine…purely for advertising purposes of course!’.
As with many of our interviews, we like to ask about a particularly funny or memorable experience with a customer. Kirstie may have topped them all… ‘Having just lost our beloved Queen, I will end on a relevant but light-hearted note. Years ago we were exhibiting at The CLA Game Fair at Blenheim house and we were very honoured that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh came to our stand to view our guns and speak with William. Unfortunately our stand was on a slight slope; William rolled forward in his wheelchair and ran over Prince Philip's rather smart brogues! Thankfully he laughed, and William was not sent to the Tower of London!’.
Make sure to visit their Instagram page for more, and if you're in the area, why not pop in to view their Country Lifestyle range?