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A Rare Retail Success Story

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Back in the early days of TDF, we visited The Shelley Panton Store in Middle Park. Where contemporaries may have moved online or shut up shop, Shelley’s charming ceramics studio and homewares store is still going strong, almost a decade on!

Today we pop over to congratulate her on 10 years in bricks-and-mortar, and garner some of the vignettes of wisdom she’s acquired along the journey!

22nd June, 2019

Photo – Garth Oriander.

Photo – Garth Oriander.

Photo – Garth Oriander.

Store manager Megan Ashman, alongside Shelley in the pottery studio. Photo – Garth Oriander.

Elle Murrell
Saturday 22nd June 2019

‘Committing to doing a good job on every shift is just so important to maintain a position in the marketplace.’ – Shelley Panton.

Retailer and potter Shelley Panton’s store is ‘Like a home you have lived in for a decade’ (in the best treasure-filled sense)! Since moving from her Middle Park location to Prahran in 2013, her space has become even more layered, and, in her own words, has developed ‘a unique atmosphere and character that can only be created with the hand of time’.

Early on, Shelley made the decision to keep her business boutique and niche and stay true to her love of sourcing interesting and practical goods for the home, as well as creating a good old-fashioned retail experience. ‘If we expanded, the attention to detail and great care required in all elements of my business would be lost,’ she explains. ‘And at the end of the day, I love working with my team on the store floor, looking after our customers, and getting time in my studio when I can. If we were bigger, I wouldn’t be able to do this nearly as much.’

Comparing our visit in 2011 to today, it’s evident that Shelley’s stock and style have evolved over the years. She now stocks an eco-bamboo range of pottery, alongside commercial grade pottery, and handmade pieces by Arcadia Scott and Ana Maria Jensen alongside her Studio Series, which she personally hand throws on a potter’s wheel at the back of the store. None of the latter pieces are available online, as Shelley encourages customers to come and select these in-person because no two are the same.

There are also designs from over 80 other makers and suppliers, many of who, I’m are heartened to find out, have been with Shelley since the early days. ‘Good things and utilitarian wares that don’t date’ is her criteria. Some favorites include Walter G block-printed cushions by Lauren and Genevieve, wood and leather care products by Gilly Stephenson and Howard Products (for longevity of course!), a collection of hooks, knobs and handle, pots and plants, plus natural home and body products, and an extensive library of books.

Prior to opening her business, Shelley was a freelance stylist and event producer with Gloss Creative and The Big Group, and before that a waitress/artist as well as Visual Merchandising assistant at Country Road. ‘The GFC, hitting my 30s, and one too many job rejections’ gave her the drive to launch her own business, and never forgetting where she came from continues to sustain her energy for this career. ‘Committing to doing a good job on every shift is just so important to maintain a position in the marketplace.  I’ve definitely had my fair share of times where I’ve run out of steam and felt like throwing in the towel. I guess resilience and the desire to hold my own space has always pulled me though. And it also helps that I love what I do, and I employ a small and passionate team who are instrumental in running the back end of the business with as much care as our front-of-house operation.’

Shelley kindly leaves us with a few tips for any enthusiastic would-be shop owner: choose a spot that is local for the demographic who will most likely be your long term supporters, negotiate a good long-term lease, maintain a consistent experience for your customers, hire a team that respects the spirit of your brand, oh, and invest in a good sound system!

The Shelley Panton Store
440 Malvern Road
Prahran, Melbourne
Monday-Saturday: 9.00am-6.00pm

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