No. 56 is located on Chapel Street in Penzance, Cornwall, an historic and architecturally interesting street, home to many independent shops and galleries. Established in 2013 by Carole Elsworth, No. 56 is filled with a mix of beautiful, functional homeware, timeless designs for everyday use and handcrafted pieces. No. 56 reflects her lifelong love of natural materials and simple designs beautifully done. Whether handcrafted or not, the pieces are all made with care and attention to detail, well designed to suit their purpose. Products are not chosen by price or brand, but simply by answering the question – does it make her heart sing ?
No. 56, named for its original address on Chapel Street, moved across the street to number 14 in 2016. The current space, designed by Carole, is a beautiful light and airy space with a lovely period window and fireplace.
What are you famous for? I’d say the selection of beautiful brushes and linens.
Where is product sourced? We stock items from around the world, mixed with handmade pieces from local makers. I also now produce my own range of clothing.
What makes your shop unique? It is a very personal collection of products – things that really do make my heart sing. I think, or hope, that the love I have for each item really shines through.
Who are your customers? We seem to attract a very wide range of customers of all ages, both local residents and visitors on holiday.
How has the internet impacted your business? I tend to view the internet in a positive way, it has certainly helped to broaden our customer base and I have been able to source some beautiful products without leaving the shop!
Carole Elsworth, the shopkeeper at No.56
Who or what inspires you? People who create beautiful things with tremendous care.
Before I was a shopkeeper.. I had a very small artisan bakery, but my training and background is in mens and womenswear design.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? Just that no one else is quite as committed to it or indeed as interested in it as I am…
What task do you like to delegate? I found it hard to delegate anything for a long time, but now have help with photography, social media and the website which has proved to be a great success.
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? That it is fine to trust my instinct.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Have a really clear idea what you are going to sell and stay focused.
Which famous person would you like to visit your shop? Gregory Peck please.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be … Not sure, this seems to encompass everything I enjoy doing.
What is your perfect day off? Ideally I’d get up early and do some sewing. Then a walk in the sunshine, over the moors, hearing only the buzz of insects and distant skylarks.
Five favourite shops Locally – Endpaper, for Holly’s beautiful papers; Jelberts in Newlyn – a lesson in simplicity: delicious homemade ice cream but vanilla only, with queues out of the door all summer. Further afield – Bartrums stationery in Hay on Wye – Barty’s attention to detail was an inspiration; La Maison du Pastel in Paris – love everything about it and although no longer there, Midas in Lancaster was an inspiring emporium in my teenage years.
Favourite neighbourhood coffee shop? The Honey Pot in Penzance is my perfect place.
I wish I could … sing beautifully
On The Future of Retail
“I think there will always be a place for independent stores run by shopkeepers who really care about the products they stock. You cannot really beat the pleasure to be found in not only seeing, but also in touching well crafted items.”
14 Chapel Street, Penzance, Cornwall
Photography by Natalie Coe