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The Utterly Yorkshire story (sort of) starts in 2013, albeit only in as much as it was then I decided that, no matter what, I’d have a major career change once 52. My 25 years in retail supply chains were taking their toll and 52 would see me having clocked up the 30 years required to get a full state pension under my belt. The government of the day tried to ruin these best laid plans by subsequently increasing the required number of years to 35 but my carefully considered response to this was… ‘bugger that, I’m still off at 52’. The 5 year countdown was on!
Somehow sensing what was to come, I secretly started collecting details of Yorkshire’s food producers for ‘future reference’. Thanks go to the Yorkshire Post in particular for their Saturday ‘Food & Drink’ sections that made this an easier task and the appropriate pages were quietly torn from the paper and furtively squirrelled away. Soon a fine portfolio of Yorkshire food, drink and gift suppliers sat in an anonymous looking folder in the office.
The exact point at which I shared this guilty secret with Sue has been lost in the sands of time but, thankfully she didn’t laugh, take a step back or ask me to sleep in a separate bed. Instead the thought of a retail emporium dedicated to the finest goods that Yorkshire could produce became a shared dream
In October 2017 as my 52nd birthday was almost in sight …a bombshell! The powers that be in the large Leeds based retailer where Sue worked decided that there weren’t enough desks to go round and it was easier to reduce the workforce rather than buy more desks. The possibility of Sue being made redundant was seen, of all places, in France where we were holidaying at the time in a gîte that, amazingly, received BBC Look North on the box. As over 300 redundancies were reported from outside the retailers head office, Harry Gration looked pained and Sue’s stomach tightened. Many a litre of Pelforth Blonde was required to sooth the angst over the remainder of the holiday and Sue’s worst fears were realised the following Monday.
Upon reflection however, it was agreed that this was ‘a sign’ and rather than abandon the idea, the planning started in earnest for Utterly Yorkshire. Suppliers were contacted, properties were reviewed, experts were procured and the sleepless nights began.
The initial signs weren’t great and the project almost floundered as Sue & I vied to provide the business name that would adorn the shop. Each suggestion was rejected by the other in an increasingly acrimonious stand off and divorce lawyers sniffed potential work. Step forward Luke from Cool Hand Studios who had been selected to produce the business web site. It transpired that his skills extended to developing properly considered business names that stood a chance of appearing on page 1 of Google in comparison to Sue & Stewart’s suggestions that, with hindsight, would have struggled to appear on page 101. In a kick around session at Luke’s Holmfirth office Utterly Yorkshire was born.
In January 2018, I ‘celebrated’ the coming of my 53rd year and the point of no return was reached in Utterly Yorkshire’s conception as leases were agreed and professional help employed. It was V1 on the runway for Utterly Yorkshire and it was either fly the concept or crash and burn
The cat (all 3 in our case) was really out of the bag as we came clean with friends and our soon to be ‘fellow traders’ of Denby Dale. Rumours of an ‘adult store’ opening in the village were scotched and early discussions with neighbouring businesses were met with a positive response which was hugely important given the aim for Utterly Yorkshire to compliment rather than compete with them.
And so here we are ready to embark on the long standing dream. Years of corporate grind are behind us and graft of a different sort lies ahead. The ethos is simple … we believe in what we’re doing and, as hard as it may have been to get it off the ground, we’re doing it for ourselves rather than an anonymous shareholder or a geographically remote big cheese who wouldn’t even know who we are. Here we go!