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A new shop with old manners: Penelope Jones & Co.

Heather Scott is Penelope Jones and Penelope Jones is Heather Scott.

Heather Scott is Penelope Jones.

Together, these two ladies – Scott, the retail professional and Jones, the imaginary globe-trotting socialite and Scott's alter ego, run the elegant Glebe gift shop Penelope Jones & Co.

Inspired by designer gift shops she had seen in London and the U.S., shops that combines antique bone china, antique art, silverware and crystal with latest trends, Scott opened Penelope Jones & Co in September 2021.

It is, by design, the contradiction of the big box store. No flat-pack plastic furnishings here, everything in Penelope Jones & Co. is one-of-a-kind and meant to last. It's a new shop with an old pedigree, an enthusiasm for refined living.

And as importantly, it is a space that invites customers to linger, and encourage imagination. See samples of Scott's wares on her Instagram page, @penelopejonesco.791

“I want people to come into the store and feel a certain kind of warmth, and I don't think you get that when everything is new,” Scott explains. “The world's a crazy place right now, and we're a respite from the news.”

“I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to my taste, but I'm selling to many younger people. I have to consider what they'd want in their home, not what I want in my home.”

It's the store Scott has been planning to open most of her life. Trained as a teacher, the Winnipeg native found her calling in sales, eventually landing one of the best jobs in Canadian retail as a sales manager of Ottawa's luxury retailer Holt Renfrew for nearly 20 years.

When that store closed in 2015, Scott knew if she wanted to continue in retail, she would have to go on her own.

“I was looking to create a store that didn't exist here,” Scott explains. “It was an itch I had to scratch. I like people, so retail is perfect for my personality. I love helping people, sharing my expertise. It's hard to find good service these days. Well, serving is not an awful thing, it's a good thing. Not everyone can do it.”

That's when I start catching glimpses of the teacher in Scott. She patiently explains the significance of unique products, and if she's running on fumes, it's largely because she's spent the last three days decorating the shop for Christmas, a habit she acquired years ago when she taught elementary school.

“Celebrating the holidays - Halloween, Christmas - is something the kids love, something we lose as adults, but it's something we can do in retail. I want the store to be a happy experience.”

Especially Christmas 2022. Scott thinks this holiday season will be the big reveal for what shape the economy in general is really in. While sales at Penelope Jones & Co. have been remarkably strong this first calendar year, Scott's seen a growing number of 'for lease' signs in the front windows of neighbouring stores.

“The pandemic took a lot of people out of the business. If you have a vision and a business plan and you're offering something different or better than anyone else, you'll do well. It's a good time to be in retail now. You just have to your ducks lined up and do your research.”

“I think if the retailer has survived the pandemic, they're doing something well,” she concludes.

For the moment, Penelope Jones & Co. is hitting it's short-term targets, paying bills, building a customer base and developing opportunities with the Glebe B.I.A. and the neighbouring businesses. If she survives the next four years, and there's no reason to think why not, she has long term plans to grow the business, but there's no prying it out of her.

“Suffice it to say I have an idea going forward that would require additional space,” she giggles.

 

 

 

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