Mark and Sally Bailey are a force to be reckoned with in the world of retail. They adopted the interior concept of a pared-back modern rustic vibe, long before the rest of us had even contemplated mixing time-worn pieces, industrial salvage and utilitarian homewares together. Having established their lifestyle and furniture brand Baileys Home, just over 35 years ago, when they moved to Herefordshire and started their family, they continue to this day to own one of the most inspiring lifestyle stores around. We are excited to share Mark and Sally’s story and journey as shopkeepers.
Baileys Home is located just outside of the market town of Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, housed in various listed farm buildings and barns that were purchased from the Duchy of Cornwall estate. “They were in a very poor condition and we decided to restore them with minimal impact and maximum environmental consideration. Keeping the finishes simple throughout, we used a mix of materials such as rough lime plaster, raw concrete and uncoated steel.”
Mark and Sally would describe their business as a general store, stocking an ever-changing collection of homewares, household hardware, stationery, cookware, food, clothing, lighting, antiques and textiles. Their bestselling products range from their craftsman-made linen sofas, to soya wax candle jars. “Opening the shop was a natural progression from our architectural antiques business, where we worked with brass and metal founders, and metal spinners in the Midlands. We felt that it was time for a change, away from Far East importing and mass production, to a well made, considered and honest approach.
Theirs is a philosophy of plain, simple, and useful. As well as working with wood turners, potters, glass blowers, and brush makers etc., Mark and Sally also have their our own workshops at the farm, and work with small family run factories and makers throughout Britain and Europe. “At the time it was virtually impossible to buy honestly made utility wares. We like to think that we stock items that are different to those on the high street. We have worked really hard over the years producing homewares that we have designed ourselves and had made for us, which we like to mix with antique furniture and fixtures.”
For customers making the trip to Baileys Home on weekends and bank holidays, there is also the charming Tin Tabernacle Tearoom (a restored and repurposed church building) to sit, relax, and enjoy drinks, homemade cakes and light snacks. As you would expect, Baileys Home has garnered a very loyal and established following over the years, and Mark and Sally ensure their shop and merchandise are constantly evolving and changing. “We are a destination, people travel long distances to visit us.”
Who or what inspires you? Travel, art, fashion, and music.
Before we were shopkeepers…We trained in design, but both come from families of shopkeepers.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? Perseverance and restraint!
What tasks do you like to delegate? Bookkeeping.
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? Tolerance!
What would be your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Fortitude.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be…Relaxed!
What is your perfect day off? Walking in the black mountains.
What is you favourite neighbourhood coffee shop? We can often be found on a Saturday drinking Monmouth coffee at Booths Books in Hay on Wye.
I wish I could…Get a good nights sleep!
On the Future of Retail
“We do find the future of independent retailing worrying, seeing lots of empty shops and independents being driven out by high rents and rates. However, there is still plenty of room for optimism. We’re really busy with both our over the counter and online sales, and work really hard to always make our store interesting, fresh and different. There is a lot of truth in ‘if you build it, they will come’!”
By Stephanie Bateman Sweet The Lifestyle Editor
Photos: Mark Bailey & Debi Treloar; Mark & Sally Bailey portrait by Paul Massey
Whitecross Farm, Bridstow, Herefordshire