Keeping it in the family: Falmouth store celebrates 30th year
A mainstay of the Falmouth high street celebrated 30 years of trading success under two generations of the same family, this week.
Secrets clothing boutique started life in 1982 as a cafe and ladies’ fashion retail outlet on the corner of Arwenack Street.
It was founded by Mary Johnson, now aged 87, who moved from Leeds in west Yorkshire to start the business and was soon joined by her daughter Sue Knee and family friend Libba Woodhouse.
The shop’s name came from a “secret garden” hidden away at the back of the original building.
Sue said: “The food side of things took off so we opened a shop just for the clothes (the current Secrets shop) and kept the cafe.
“We took on another shop in 1997 to cater for the student population. That was on Church Street and we sold that as a going concern. We had three shops at one point, one just selling accessories.”
Secrets first appeared in the Packet 28 years ago when they won an Egon Ronay food accolade for their cafe. Today there is just the one shop, on Arwenack Street, but persistence and creativity has seen Secrets stand the test of time and survive two testing recessions.
Sue said: “Mum was the backbone of the business. She got us going in 1982 with all her hard work. She retired at 85 a couple of years ago.
“Libba trained as a designer so she always did the creative side of things and I was the financial side. It was a good combination because I used to keep them to strict budgets – and I still do!
“We have had the same loyal staff for ten years and that has really helped because they know the business inside out.
To celebrate three decades of success the team is planning a big slap-up meal, followed by a couple of glasses of champagne. Although they came from “upcountry”, Sue, Libba and Mary feel very much part of the Falmouth street scene now and are thankful for their loyal customer base.
Sue said: “Everyone knows Secrets. Customers of two generations have known us, the mums and their daughters. We definitely feel adopted by Falmouth now.”