Evie Topgood had no intention of running a shop when she bought a Long Sutton property.
Evie and partner Mike just fell in love with the Grade II listed building in Market Street with its Georgian-style frontage.
They had leased out the upstairs maisonette as living accommodation and planned to let out the shop downstairs.
But when someone approached them about using the space as an off licence they realised that was not what they wanted.
Evie says: “I thought the building is too beautiful to allow something like that to happen, so we thought we’d run it ourselves.”
Retired architect Mike and Evie have opened Box of Delights, where handmade jewellery, stained glass, soap, teddy bears, as well as Fair Trade items are sold, many made by local artisans.
The shop is also a showcase for Evie’s talents, as both a ceramicist and a painter.
Within weeks the shop will also be used for giving classes in ceramics, something that Evie was doing in outbuildings at her and Mike’s home in Fleet Hargate.
Ceramics was Evie’s first love, and something she studied, working clay by hand to make tiles and sculptures until her family came along.
Her sons Jacob (16) and James (8), from her marriage, were part of the reason she ended up selling everything and taking up oil painting instead.
Evie says: “All the ceramics stuff took over my house – I literally had clay stuff everywhere. I sold the lot, but wish I hadn’t because I had some lovely stuff before.”
More recently, Evie bought more equipment, including 400 moulds, and started moulding clay again as a hobby while nursing. When she injured her back Evie had to give up nursing and started teaching people how to make clay tiles by hand.
Evie has gone back to her art fully now, having also picked up a paintbrush again, and she is enjoying producing oil paintings once more.
The couple are just waiting for heating and a sink to be installed in the cellar studio below the shop and lessons can begin.
Evie says: “I love it here, and having the customers come in. It’s lovely to chat to people – I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.”