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Why Keighley?

We recently put a post out on Facebook asking for feedback on our retail counter offering. Sales have been slower of late, partly down to the same factors that are influencing shops across the country. But we wanted to hear from our customers: what did they like, what did they want to see more of?

We had some great feedback, which we've already put into practical solutions - which have flown off the counter! We also had some comments that if our shop was in a different town, such as Ilkley, Saltaire or Bingley, we'd have no problem selling more cakes from our counter.

Firstly, I would like to reassure everyone that the slower sales on the retail counter are not a problem for the business as a whole. Our bread and butter is wedding cakes and celebration cakes, and sales for these are strong. The question was more to do with whether we should slimline our counter hours/offering/staffing if it's not a profitable income stream. However, for now it is, and we will continue to offer a delicious array of treats, Tuesday - Saturday.

It did make me think though, that people who don't know our story, or who have been prevented from seeing all of our story by the Facebook algorithm, don't know that we are firmly and stubbornly placed in Keighley. And they don't know why.

Keighley seems like an unlikely place, in some ways, to have a high end, luxury branded cake shop, with prices that are multiple that of Aldi and even Sainsbury's. People told me Keighley was the wrong place to have our shop. They probably knew that was a red rag to a bull. Keighley is the perfect place to have our shop.

Firstly, I live in Keighley. By extension my husband lives in Keighley, as do my children, who go to school near Keighley. When you invest as much of your life as I do in your work, you want and have to save every shred of work-life balance you can get. Being within walking distance, on my children's bus route home from school, was a dealbreaker when I was looking at commercial properties. We love where we live and quite frankly we can't afford to move anywhere else (despite our eye-watering prices, I aren't raking it in), so Keighley we are and Keighley we will remain. And so will my business.

Secondly, I want to make a positive change for Keighley. We all know the negatives. A once-thriving industrial town that's been left neglected by the powers that be, gradually sinking further into negativity and self-loathing and the scorn of the surrounding areas. But who doesn't love a good news story? Who doesn't want things to get better? And the only way for things to get better is for someone, somepeople, to stick our necks out and be the one who makes the change. And along with our Keighleyan army of small business owners, local politicians, volunteers and social enterprisers, we want a piece of that positive change. We want to be the change. What's the point of whinging and moaning about how bad things are? There is literally NO point. Especially if you're not prepared to do something about it. What gets me is, the people who complain about the state of Keighley were the first to tell me I had my shop in the wrong place and it would fail. If you can see the problems, see the solution - and support it.

Thirdly, I actually think Keighley is great. I'm originally from London and I tell you, the state of the streets down there is worse than up here. It's seen as the Mecca of British civilisation by half the country, the place to get jobs, the place where rents are through the roof because it's so desirable - yet there are piles of rubbish and the promise of being mugged or raped around every corner. But Keighley isn't just great because other places are equally bad. It's genuinely great because of the people and the history.

The people are amazing. Every other day you will see a heart-warming post on the You Know You've Lived in Keighley Facebook group telling us about some amazing good deed someone has done, usually prefaced by the words "I know what people say about Keighley but..." There is a strong and beautiful community of local small business owners that have each others backs - full stop. I know if anything happened to me and my team they'd be there for us. We love to support each other. We love seeing each other, popping into each other's shops, ordering things from each other, recommending each other to our clients. We love our Keighley customers. They are loyal and fun. They are real. There is no pretence in Keighley. You go on any night out in a Keighley pub and you'll make a bunch of friends and probably end up singing Karaoke with them. There's no snobbery and I like it that way.

Keighley has history. The buildings are beautiful and the heritage is important. We are honoured to be in a Grade II listed building on one of the oldest high streets in the country, with a glass canopy that holds a wealth of history in itself. We have all that we need to make Keighley an attractive tourist location again and a beautiful, desirable place to come for an outing. The steam railway, Cliffe Castle, the history of Cavendish Street. We're just trying to play our part in that. It's heart-breaking that Dalton Mill has been robbed of its potential to be another Salts Mill.

So there we have it. We're in Keighley and we aren't moving. The only time you'll see Three Little Birds in another location is if and when we open another branch.

Also, the rent's dirt cheap. Thanks for reading x

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