Have you ever been to The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England? It is a must for the dedicated Austen fan. The following is a piece about the Centre’s gift shop by Matthew Coniam of The Jane Austen Centre. It is reprinted here with their kind permission.
As well as the bicentenary of Jane’s death, 2017 marks another anniversary on the Austen calendar, albeit of a more modest nature. Because it was ten years ago that the Jane Austen Gift Shop first began sending products to Jane’s fans the world over.
In those days it was a much more humble affair.
Because so many visitors to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath are international tourists it soon became apparent that it would be a good thing if the Centre were to offer a mail order service, so that visitors could enjoy those items on sale in the Centre’s gift shop that they may not have had the luggage room to take away with them there and then. Before long it was decided to establish a unique online presence for the shop, which like the proverbial small acorn grew to become the Jane Austen Gift Shop as we know it today. Now we have a stock of over 500 products, many of them exclusive to us, servicing an online clientele in Britain and all over the world. Our best-selling items range from our iconic I Love Darcy bags to beautiful and delicate reproductions of Jane’s own turquoise ring and topaz necklace.
Just about the only thing that hasn’t changed over those ten years is our commitment to finding (and creating) the very best, most unusual and inventive gifts for the Jane Austen fan. Our customers know that, whether browsing for themselves or for a present for a friend or family member, they are sure to find something they won’t find anywhere else, and which is certain to bring a smile to the face of any dedicated Janeite.
More than that, however, there is the definite sense that we are all part of a single community. Many of our customers’ names have become as familiar as our own, returning year on year, and emailing us to tell us which of our products they like, and what they’d like to see from us. Our newsletters reach many thousands every week, and our new Gold Membership allows customers to become part of the creative process, with updates on new lines and priority purchasing of selected ranges, as well as all-year round discounts. We hope to bring many more new ideas to you in the years to come: look out in the next few weeks for some great new ideas for your home, some beautiful jewellery, and much, much more. Our anniversary competition is now live, giving you the chance to win one of our beautiful replica rings absolutely free, with some terrific runners-up prizes too…
We’ve spent ten years bringing Jane’s world to your world, and we hope to continue doing just that for many more years to come. So whether you’re a long-established customer or a newcomer looking in for the first time, we’d like to thank you all for your interest and support. And don’t forget: if you’re a Jane Austen fan, we’d love to hear from you. Which of our products do you especially like? Are there any you are not so keen on? Is there something we don’t offer that you think we should? Come and join us, and let us know.
So remember our three pledges:
To bring Jane Austen to you, and to welcome you to our Jane Austen community
To give you the very best in range and quality
To offer personal, friendly and excellent customer service
And here’s to the next ten years!