Style and substance
For independent retailers on the High Street, survival can be a tricky business. But One40, the boutique department store in Cranleigh has taken a different approach and it's working a treat. We caught up with the owners Richard and Elaine Graham.
I get to meet loads of wonderful and interesting people in my role as the editor of Muddy Stilettos – it’s without doubt one of the best parts of my job.
On a recent jaunt through our county I stopped off in Cranleigh, and had the pleasure of meeting an inspiring couple who are going against the retail norm.
Richard and Elaine Graham, own and run One40, a boutique department store selling women’s and men’s fashion, homewares and gifts – but unlike many fashion retailers, they’ve shunned the online sales world – there’s no click and deliver shopping here. For the Graham’s, it’s all about the shopping experience – touching and feeling the products, trying them on, talking to the staff and taking pleasure from the shopping experience. Customers are treated like guests.
There’s also a café, so this really is destination shopping! You could easily spend a few hours at One40, shopping and enjoying a leisurely lunch or afternoon tea. And you’re also guaranteed to find something a bit quirky or different from One40’s a highly curated collection of fashion, gifts and homewares.
The shop, at number 140 on the High Street, is far from new – in fact it’s been there since 1959, first as Graham’s – run by Richard’s parents John and Kathleen, and then 15 years ago as the re-branded One40.
It started as just two small rooms, but has expanded over the years and is now spread across three split levels. The shop’s roots are in old-fashioned retail – and Richard says that it used to be a very old-fashioned, almost fuddy-duddyish store before he and Elaine took over and rebranded.
Richard’s background is in retail and marketing and Elaine’s is in fashion – she trained in fashion design – so together they really are a dynamic duo. And that really comes across when you meet Richard who wholeheartedly puts their success in this notoriously difficult industry down to the fact that they work so well as as team.
The couple is steeped in Cranleigh – they have two sons who have grown up here, and as a family they’re very active within the community. Richard has been a school governor and Both boys have worked at the shop – their eldest is currently on a gap year but the youngest who’s 17 works as a sous chef in the café on Sundays.
The store caters to a wide demographic – from ages 25 to 80 – and to both women and men. Fashion leads the way as the biggest part of the business, with the café following on behind. There’s a strong focus on UK products and labels, and lots of unique products you won’t find elsewhere like Hogben Pottery, beautifully crafted pieces that are handmade in Bucks. But you’ll also find classics like Emma Bridgewater.
On the fashion front, expect fashion forward labels like American Vintage, Mos Mosh Ottod’Ame and Lolly’s Laundry alongside Maison Anjé, Ese O Ese, MKT Studio and Great Plains. They also hold fashion briefing events throughout the year which always sell out fast.
Oh, and they’ve got something else planned at the store too – something quite new and exciting – but I’ve been sworn to secrecy, so for the moment my lips are sealed. But watch this space!
One40 at 140 High Street, Cranleigh, GU6 8RF. The store is open 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat (with an earlier opening time of 8am on Thurs) and from 10am-4pm on Sun.