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An Anniversary

Steampunk Victorian Leather Pen in wooden display box
Steampunk Victorian Leather Pen in wooden display box
Steampunk Victorian Leather Pen in wooden display box

May the Fourth 2021

I knew there was something familiar about today’s date. 

Other than my being a science fiction fan, May the fourth last year was significant because it was the day we announced that we could restart the supply of our non-essential goods to customers (see the Covid-19 info on the Belts site). 

So today marks a year since we began a new normal; one that has continued to evolve, and will continue to do so. We are still sanitising hands and surfaces, wearing face coverings and keeping our distance…

We are delighted to be able to welcome customers into our new-look shop, with the belt maker’s workbench right in the window, and a spacious shopping area inside. 

Those exciting plans I mentioned a year ago became a shop called ‘The Belt Makers and Friends‘ and inside you can now find a good range of gifts and accessories that compliment our belts, and that you might find around a person who belongs – for a part of their day at least – in an office, study or studio. Things like suitable leather bags and briefcases for the trip to work. Other items that brighten your day, such as a smart shirt and cufflinks to team up with a more casual trouser; comfy and bright, British made woollen socks; and leather pens that have been expertly hand crafted from our very own leather trimmings. 

The range is expanding all the time and ‘desk decor’ is an area we are aiming at for the near future. Where will we be this time next year? To quote Dave Lister, of the JMC mining ship, Red Dwarf: “It’s going to be fun finding out!”

Stay safe, people.

Marie

‘An Anniversary’ was written by Marie Buckfield

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Thank you for a fantastic week!

Social distancing measures: sanitising station and floor flow markings

Thank you for a fantastic week!

Shop front with Open artwork by Gus
Shop front with Open artwork by Gus

Ushering in the New Era

We opened our shop to the general public for the first time in months, on Monday 15th June. We had spent weeks pouring over government guidance and WHO recommendations; glued ourselves to Downing Street Briefings and we’d read everything sent to us by email, from local BID, council and national bodies alike; filled in forms and hung up the appropriate posters.

I think we’ve got it about right, until the recommendations are changed again, but that will be for another day!

Social distancing measures: sanitising station and floor flow markings
Social distancing measures: sanitising station and floor flow markings

We have a barricade down the centre of the shop floor, creating a one-way system that is separated from the second side. We have bright yellow floor tape marking both the direction of flow and the 2 metre intervals right across the floor. There is a hand sanitising station on the door and we are encouraging the use of face coverings but it’s not compulsory at this stage. I expect it will be soon!

We have disinfectant sprays for the surfaces. We’re keeping the socks in their plastic packaging so they can be wiped if necessary, and any belts that are tried on are being labelled and placed in the back room until their 72 hour quarantine is up.

Payment roundel floor sticker
Payment roundel floor sticker

Everyone waited politely on the little roundel (that’s two metres away from the till) to pay by card so, all-in-all, I think any uncertainty we had over whether or not we were doing all the right things, or whether we had missed anything, was put at rest.

Shopping for fun? I think I remember…

I do think it will take a while for people to get the hang of shopping for pleasure again, but by Saturday we had new window artwork by one of our Saturday staff, Gus, and there was music playing from the bar doing takeaway service a few doors down from us; the good old Fore Street atmosphere was well and truly dusted off and back where it should be!

We have been beautifully looked after by both regular and new customers alike and it is so appreciated, thank you.

We are so pleased to be able to bring such a lovely range of products to the Fore Street marketplace and this has been made partly possible by having the new website up and running so smoothly, so quickly. I need to give a massive shout out to Aaron from Takeoff Development for all his help and advice; if you need a website get straight on to him!

Do it your way

Remember, there are so many ways to shop with us. You can browse the website before popping in to the shop and you can try on a tester belt for size before you buy. You can order online for delivery, or for contactless collection: just let us know when’s best for you.

You can also book a private appointment for you and your household or social bubble. Pick your preferred contact option to book, or use your favourite social media and find us via #TBMandFriends.

Thank you for supporting our independent family business… see you soon!

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An Introduction to TBM & Friends

TBM and Friends shop front

An Introduction to TBM & Friends

TBM and Friends shop front
TBM and Friends shop front

It has to be said, this has been the strangest year of our lives, and not in the way we expected

The original plan, after moving all sites under one (much more convenient) roof, had been to give all of the different TBM belt lines more space to breathe; to fill our much larger shop not only with Classics, Borders, Raises and our characteristic hand sewn patterns, but also with plaits, braids, inlays, guest leathers and, when the product reaches our requirements, to venture into the world of vegan leather substitutes.

The global coronavirus outbreak has changed things somewhat

As mentioned in our About TBM & Friends, we have witnessed the struggle faced by some of our fellow artisans and, not being bin collectors, food providers, doctors or nurses, we tried to think of other ways (in addition to social distancing and hand washing, etc) that we could contribute to the National Effort.

… and so TBM & Friends was born

We put out some feelers , talked to a number of local artisans who had lost outlets, and curated a collection of products that would work with our belts. Items that could be found in an office or studio setting, or in the dressing room of someone nipping across the hall to their work from home den.

Things besides our beautiful hand made, leather trouser support solutions, such as lovely cufflinks that you will really get a buzz from wearing, braces that are hand made in England, also available with button hole ends, leather wallets; all these supplied to us from a company only about 8 miles from our shop.

Braces, cufflinks, wallet

Natural fibre socks in wool, sometimes also with cotton, are not made in commercial volumes quite so close to home but we have found a maker further north who produces these items that are soft, colourful and… wait for it… machine washable!

Socks

Elegant and functional leather briefcases and bags are hand made by an artisan only 2 miles from us, so close! These are incredibly practical and delightfully comfortable to wear; guaranteed and repairable. You don’t really need to look any further for a bag that will suit your needs, as you can customise not only the colour but the number of pockets, pouches and zips, should you wish to place a bespoke order.

The Full Monty Briefcase

If you are looking for desk or study solutions, you can also find those here. Perfect porcelain pen pots, mini planters, trinket trays and lighting solutions are all in stock. Colourful and uplifting lamps and soy candles to light your way, CO2 absorbers for a more comfortable atmosphere, and somewhere to keep together all those things you can never quite put your hands on.

Colourful Textured Porcelain Pen Pots

Elegant and functional is the name of the game in this shop. If it’s actually useful, look for it here. If it also looks, feels or works in some stunning way, search for it here. We aim to raise eyebrows and expectations… and support local artisans, wherever we can.

Browse the website, pop into the shop… you are assured of a warm welcome!

See you soon,
Marie x