The official Wikipedia definition of a lifestyle shop is ‘a retail store selling a wide variety of products all in one place. It is designed to associate a brand with one or another aspirational lifestyles. Lifestyle shops may include clothing, housewares, furniture, stationery, gifts’.
The Hambledon Gallery first opened its doors in 1962. It was originally opened as an artists’ meeting place, then became a gallery and over the last 55+ years it has evolved. It was Dorset’s original lifestyle shop, and was one of a kind. In the early years the first additions to the art were homewares; kitchen things, glass, china and Irish linen tea towels. The clothes were added later, one of the first stockists of Laura Ashley as well as Guernsey sweaters and fisherman smocks.
What is the difference between a lifestyle shop and a department store?
Although there are some similarities and both stores would stock some similar things, the crucial difference is that department stores are generally larger and the things sold are centrally bought in a head office with less focus on specific customer tastes. A lifestyle store is more likely to be independently owned and family run and the buying usually mirrors a way of life and a passion for a particular style. Lifestyle shops are inspirational, places that give you ideas where the constantly changing stock means no visit is ever the same. Lifestyle shops can sometimes be called a curation of different products. We always say that if you like what we sell, most of the hard work has been done for you; we’ve already weeded out the bad stuff and what is in the shop and online is the best of the best.
So, how did The Hambledon Gallery evolve into Dorset’s original lifestyle shop?
In the early years as an art gallery, exhibitions of significant British artists like Mary Fedden and Keith Vaughan drew people in and by gradually adding new products we realised that there was a demand and need in the area for lovely things. Very early on, the shop sold Kenco coffee, it was what we drank in the shop, people said it smelt good, so we retailed it. It may be tricky to imagine today how difficult it was to shop for good quality things fifty, forty, thirty and even twenty years ago. In a small market town in rural Dorset, in a world without the internet, The Hambledon Gallery became a one-stop shop. Over the years, several extensions and expansions the shop is now large enough to dedicate space on the first floor for clothing, shoes and accessories, downstairs is where we have most of our homewares, toiletries, children’s toys and clothes, books and stationery as well as garden things.
In 2018 we launched our new website. In a changing retail world and a time when people want to browse 24/7, our brand new website is much easier to use and, although it doesn’t have every single thing on it that we sell in the lifestyle shop in Blandford, it is a great representation of what we believe in.
What type of products are sold at The Hambledon Gallery?
‘Everything but fruit and veg’. This isn’t too far from the truth. We have an ever-evolving range of handpicked products. The clothing changes with the seasons and the homewares, toys, toiletries and present ideas are constantly added to and altered to reflect current trends and tastes. The product categories we have, include:
- Luxury toiletries
- Handmade jewellery
- Children’s clothes and toys
- Books and stationery
Which brands can I purchase online and in store?
All of the brands we stock represent our lifestyle and the things that we love. We take great pride in sourcing brands that are well made, good quality and represent value and will be treasured. Whilst most of our womenswear is only available in the shop, some of our favourites include:
Great Plains – established in 1989, we’ve been stocking it from the word go. It consistently offers amazing wardrobe basics along with effortless on-trend classics which have a broad appeal for women of all ages.
Ottod’Ame – a beautifully designed and varying collection from Italy. This range also has a broad appeal with every piece offering something a little unusual. They are well known for more classic crepe and cotton poplin pieces which sit alongside creative prints.
Sahara – created by Royal College of Art graduate Suzy Coppersmiths-Heaven, this British collection is taking ethics seriously with a greater emphasis on slow fashion, beautiful fabrics with design and longevity at its heart.
Other brands that we sell both online and in our bricks and mortar shop include:
Miller Harris – the London based British perfumer. There is something very special about beautifully crafted perfume. Miller Harris has a full range of Eau de Parfum as well as shower wash, hand cream and luxury scented candles.
Alex Monroe – we are very proud to be stockists of the luxury jewellery designer’s handcrafted treats. Based in London, all his collections are hand made in England with an increasing emphasis on the environmental impact of his business. They are now committed to recycling metal and minimising plastic consumption as well as donating £10 from every sale of the new Oceans Collection to Friends of the Earth.
Keith Brymer Jones – the Kent-based British ceramicist has been crafting for over 20 years. We have been selling his ‘words’ range pretty much since he started making. His bucket mugs make a popular present with messages on them such as ‘mummy’s mug’ and ‘don’t panic’.
Roka Bags – This well priced, vegan accessories brand is relatively new to the market and they have been a great success. All the Roka bags are well made and sturdy and weather resistant, perfect for travelling and for commuting.
Discover The Hambledon Gallery for yourself.
Whether you are looking to treat yourself or a loved one, we have something for everyone. Browse online from home or pop into our shop in Blandford Forum. Our usual opening times are Monday to Saturday 9am to 5.30pm. Please email us or call if you need any information or advice. You can also keep an eye on what we are getting up to and any new brands and arrivals by heading to our Instagram page here. We look forward to welcoming you.