Clothes agency bucking the trend as it expands into the hat trade
A DRESS agency in Derby's Cathedral Quarter is to expand its range following the demise of a neighbouring hat business.
As reported in the Derby Telegraph on Tuesday, Kara Model Milliners has closed its Queen Street shop after suffering a drop in sales.
The shop had been selling hats and fascinators since February 1953.
But by coincidence, a nearby clothing business called Pearls and Scarlett, in Iron Gate, is to start selling and hiring hats.
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For more than five years, the company, which is run by Shona and Lee Harding, has been selling garments on behalf of customers.
With each successful sale, the business takes a commission.
Since then, it has built up a client-base of more than 3,000 after initially starting with 400.
The company has recently bought a Belper-based hat hire business – and from Tuesday, the Derby shop will begin selling and hiring hats.
Mrs Harding said she hoped it would go some way to replacing the service previously offered by Kara's.
She said: "As a local business, we understand the pressures of having to adapt and change as the needs of the customer also changes.
"I believe that with the closure of Kara's we are losing more and more of the independent trades that used to define our high street.
"We want to reassure people that there will still be a place to get fabulous quality hats to hire or buy – including proper artisan hats and fascinators, which will be continuing the tradition of the milliners on our high street.
"It is important now, more than ever, to offer people a service which could very well disappear altogether in the years to come.
"With the sad news of Kara's, there is the tradition living on through our business, something which we hope will ensure that there will always be a milliners' business in Derby."
Niki Collins, who had been running Kara's for the past two years, said that the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics had been partly to blame for a drop in trade during the summer months, which eventually forced the shop's closure just months before it was due to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
She is now hoping to run consultation appointments from other nearby business premises after firms offered her space in their units.
In contrast, Pearls and Scarlett has been defying the downturn as consumers have become more willing to look for a bargain.
Mrs Harding said: "Unlike the big high street retailers, we stock a lot of one-off pieces. It's not just clothes – we sell a range of accessories, too.