Meet the shopkeeper: Mary Claire, owner of Frank in Whitstable
We love to visit Whitstable and the surrounding area as a little escape from London life.
Frank, on Harbour street has always been one of our favourite shops in Whitstable, so we are really pleased to call them one of our stockists. Below, as part of our ‘Meet the shopkeeper’ series, we chat to Mary Claire, owner of Frank.
Can you describe Frank for us?
We opened Frank 10 years ago (we just had our birthday!) to showcase British prints and handmade pieces by small companies and individual designers, printmakers and illustrators. Frank is a hybrid space somewhere between a shop and a gallery. We have a gallery wall and often hold exhibitions within the store. We sell mainly paper products, jewellery, ceramics and textiles. We favour designers who are working in a sustainable way. To quote from our website, "we are interested in the provenance of everything we sell. The story and origin of each piece informs our choices. We aim to remain contemporary, creative, original and British."
What inspired you to open a store like this?
We had just moved to Whitstable, I had no retail experience, but the opportunity to take this building on came along and I became passionate about setting up the shop. I had a background in illustration and worked in stationery and children’s books before setting up Frank. The vision for the shop has evolved over the years, responding to the type of customers who come though the doors.
Do you have a typical customer? If so, can you describe him/her in a few words?
Our customers are discerning in terms of their knowledge of design. They are attracted to the shop. I learn a lot from my customers and their feedback informs the type of items we buy - our stock is constantly evolving.
How do you display your one we made earlier necklaces?
We recently refurbished the shop and commissioned some bespoke giant pegboards. These are great to display the necklaces and we can mix things up and easily change the display around.
Can you tell us a little about your neighbourhood and recommend a few places for us to visit?
From Whitstable, in one direction there are lovely coastal walks to Seasalter. In the other direction, there are the hills and cliffs of Tankerton.
For dining, The Cheese Box has just opened a new cafe/restaurant on Harbour Street.
Wheelers is great for oysters and for a wide range of craft beers, try The Twelve Taps on Whitstable High Street.