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Weeks Four, Five and Six: Almost there…

So another 3 weeks have passed and we are still not open. I can’t say anything has particularly gone wrong but there has been a lot to do and I totally underestimated the time it would take. Steve from Interior Solutions is continuing to work his brilliant building/plumbing/electrical magic and I’m still painting (mostly myself, definitely rocking the Tramp look) Decorating is now down to the last few bits and bobs that need to be done after Steve has done his thing.

The whole shop has been completely rewired with full heating, plugs and of course the lighting which has a touch of brick styling. With this and the newly whited walls it’s a very nice clean bright space. One thing that was always going to make a real difference was the floor and  I’m really happy that this has been done and is looking gorgeous thanks to Mark WIllmottand his team. I’m really pleased with the overall effect, hope you like it as much as I do.

The exterior is now finished. We painted it once, then decided the masonry should also go grey and then later we painted the frame to the header panel. I’m now happy with the colours and the vinyl lettering added today has finished the exterior off nicely. I will not miss perching on the ladder precariously balanced on the uneven payment, painting whilst hanging on for dear life to the header panel while lorries pass by!

When the floor was being fitted I took a day out from the painting to pop to IKEA and get some of the furniture including some bargain tables which match our colours perfectly. Mum has been hard at work (mis)assembling flat pack. More furniture is planned but we want to get the basics in and see it with the stock and some customers before we commit to where the brick’n’mix and make a minifig will end up. Expect it all to evolve a little given time.

We were planning on having standard shop shelving but I’m really not keen on the horrid beige basic stuff. Luckily the guys at On&On ( have helped us out with a gorgeous powder counted aluminium system which will be going in this Friday. It’s an amazing solution and beautiful to behold. It should take quite a bit of stock too!

We were hoping that we might get open this weekend but there are still just a few too many jobs to get done and unfortunately our counters arrived today and one is damaged so will need to be returned 🙁

I guess you are wondering when we will open and I’m sorry to say I still can’t tell you. I can say it will be very, very, soon and at short notice. Basically as soon as we are ready, probably Wednesday 12th or Thursday 13th, definitely in time for the Easter weekend.

Looking forwards to seeing you there!

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Weeks Two and Three: The Wickes White out

I had intended to write this a little more regularly so I’m sorry that its been a whole two weeks. I can at least tell you that we are now making some good progress and we will likely open in another two to three weeks.

We have now finished removing all the stuff which was either unwanted, old or broken. All the crusty old sinks, plugs, stud walls etc have now been pulled out and new shinny items are going in where we actually need them. We now also have the modern marvels of both power and running water although this currently means just one live plug and one cold tap but they are at least safe and not leaking. These are both thanks to Steve our brilliant builder (he has featured on Grand Designs several times!!!). Steve has very kindly found time to help us out until the job is done. He did one day last Friday 3rd and started full time this Friday 10th. We’ve also had great help with painting from Serena who some of you have met at The Inn on The Park or St Albans Town Hall and a days work from the lovely Lady Plasterer, Carole. Mum is now home from her hols and may be persuaded to pick up a brush this week so with any luck we will be moving faster and faster towards opening.

Most of the work being done is to make sense of our back rooms and to ensure that the shop is warm, safe, hygienic and brightly lit. We’re already starting to add some of our own personality and colour to the space and paint is going on the walls as well as to Wickes car park. An accident with a pothole, a trolley and a 10L bucket of white emulsion was one of the low points so far but luckily I am not yet barred, which is a good thing, as I am there most days for supplies. Having given the entire shop space and ceilings a couple of coats of white, it feels about twice as big as it had done with the bare plaster.

This week we aim to have our sockets lighting and heaters up and running and to start work on the swap round of bathroom and kitchen There is still a lot to be done but opening day is getting closer and I hope that this week we will be able to pencil in a date.


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Week One: A life of grime.

So we have now had the shop for a total of a week and I thought I’d update you on our progress…

The new shop is currently in a poor state but I know it has plenty of potential. It has no power and the plumbing is in such a poor state that we do not dare turn on the mains water. The good news is that we knew all this when we took it on and we are busy doing what we can to clean, fix and sand until power is returned and the builders and plumbers do their thing. Luckily below some of the serious grime that’s being removed the shop is a better condition than I had hoped, the window frames for example, which looked rotten are actually sound and will just need a little love, sanding and painting. Its no wonder it needs some love, it has been empty for around 4 years.

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Some of our Catherine Street neighbours have popped in and have made us feel very welcome. Less welcome are the phone calls from con-artists posing as ‘the meter registration board’. Please be aware that these people are scammers and may ask for the serial no.s of your meter, please do not give them out. Luckily I was busy the first time they called and after asking them to call back I had time to research these fraudsters. Apparently they are dubious brokers and sign you up to contracts that would make your eyes water and are difficult to get out of. Anyway no harm done and the calls seem to have finally stopped.

It feels good to spend time at the shop and to get to know the space and in doing so, my planned layout has changed a little this week. The shop will be similar in format to the Harpenden pop-up but better presented with lots more sets, minifigures and built items on display.

We are still preparing more stock and getting more of our inventory onto our Bricklink store plus fulfilling online orders, so its business as usual as well as preping the shop. Power will be on this week so hopefully progress will be fast from now on. Here’s hoping!

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We got keys!

So this weekend we can finally confirm that the deal is done and we now have a permanent St Albans shop.

You may or may not know but we’ve been searching for somewhere to call our own for a very long time, maybe 18 months now. I have spent many a morning cycling local streets looking at prospective shops. Finally last December (2016) I was walking into town when I noticed a small sign in a little shop in Catherine Street. Within days I’d agreed with the Landlord that we’d like to take it. What I have now learnt is that solicitors do take a very loooonnnng time! There is still a little way to go before we open our doors to you lovely people but its real progress and we are very excited.

I will be writing a little bit to this blog over the next few weeks as the preparations continue for the big day. Next step is a tiny bit of work to the backrooms, heating, lighting and bathroom. I’ll aim to take some pics tomorrow of the shop as it now stands.

Hope you are somewhere near as excited as we are!