Welsh language shop bucks retail trend to take up permanent residence... in England
Independent Welsh book and gift shop Siop Cwlwm has been plying its trade for over a decade now, initially operating from a market stall in Oswestry on the Shropshire-Powys border.
Mother and daughter team Linda and Lowri Roberts later moved their business indoors, to a double unit in Oswestry’s market hall. But a permanent shop was always the ultimate aim. And now that dream has become a reality.
Far from heading back across the border, however, Siop Cwlwm has strengthened its ties with its host market town, moving to premises on Bailey Street.
Cwlwm means knot in Welsh and, as Lowri (pictured above) explains, “the Welsh language is what joins Oswestry to Wales."
The border between Wales and England moved fluidly around Oswestry during the Middle Ages, before settling to its west in the Act of Union in the 16th century. To this day the town remains very Welsh, despite being in England. On market days it's not unusual for the Welsh language to be heard as much if not more than English, while Wales' most successful football club, The New Saints, play at nearby Park Hall
"We like to think we play an important role in supporting the Welsh language in Oswestry with our range of Welsh books, gifts and cards," Lowri adds. "Our aim is to be a hub for Welsh speakers in the town as well as Welsh learners and anyone interested in Welsh heritage.”
Business advisers from Hadleigh Works, Be a Better Fish and Martin & Jones Marketing worked closely with Siop Cwlwm via the Marches Growth Hub Shropshire one-to-one specialist-support programme to help bring about the move, at a time when retail success stories are thin on the ground.
To celebrate, the outlet will be taking part in Oswestry Christmas Live on 2nd December, from 6-10pm, when the town celebrates the start of the Christmas season with a spectacular evening event and late-night shopping.
The following day, Siop Cwlwm will also be staging a book reading by north Wales author Julia Ozanne, who received accolades for her first novel, The Boat Shed.
Julia lived and worked in the Oswestry area before moving to north Wales, and has now written a sequel to The Boat Shed, The Rule of Twelfths, which is also based around the north Wales coastal area. Julia will be available to sign copies of both books between 12-4pm.
• For more information about Siop Cwlwm, visit www.siopcwlwm.co.uk