“It’s about wanting to be part of the bigger picture. Wanting to contribute to the continuing success of the business. To value and support each other as team members and friends” – Neil Rohan Keswick
Thirty Years and Counting…
Regardless of differing individual views or political tendencies, I’m sure everyone will agree that 2016 has been a year of sweeping change and uncertainty. Who couldn’t have possibly predicted the outcome of the EU referendum, Donald Trump becoming president elect of the USA or perhaps most remarkably, Leicester City winning the Premiership!
In the aftermath of such radical change, faith in anything remaining solid and reliable has been shaken to its core.
However amidst the turmoil, in the north of the Lake District a family owned business was readying itself to commence its 30th year of trading.
Established by the Evans family in 1986, Rohan in Keswick has successfully ridden the retail rollercoaster through many different challenges. Economic recessions, parent company ownership changes plus the innumerable hurdles faced on a day to day basis, have made the stability and continuing growth of the business nothing short of incredible.
The full story of the Evans Rohan franchise has been well documented already on these pages but 2016 has encompassed many events that highlight the vagaries of life in retail.
In January, helping to dispel the hangover of the winter storms, Mark Richards author of the Fellranger guide book series, visited the shop to launch sales of his pen and ink prints, in aid of the Cumbria Community Foundation
An increasingly familiar face around Keswick and a regular visitor to the shop is top outdoor film maker Terry Abraham. Having completed his film focussing on Blencathra, he called in to purchase some new kit from us in March.
His current project, a biopic of Britain’s foremost mountaineer Alan Hinkes, will undoubtedly guarantee more visits from both Terry and Alan as they film around the Keswick area.
There are many eagerly anticipated events in the Rohan Keswick year, but none more so than visits from Alan and Joy Evans, co-owners of the Keswick franchise along with their son Ben.
Coming over from their home in the French Alps, Al and Joy’s visits are packed with catching up with friends and family, getting out onto the fells and as we did in both May and November of 2016, sharing stories and laughs over a good meal out. Fantastic fun and definitely part of what makes our team, our family, so close and supportive.
May also saw the 10th annual Keswick Mountain Festival
If you’re familiar with the Keswick shop then you will be aware that we have a display of garments selected from our extensive vintage Rohan collection. Pride of place is a pair of original Mountaineering Salopettes which Ben managed to track down and secure during July.
The weekend of Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of September this year saw a frenzied period of preparation reach its climax.
It was time for us to celebrate our 30th Birthday with an in store party!
With scones, cakes and flapjacks made (we did consider Findus crispy pancakes and arctic roll – but not for long), balloons inflated and 80’s music on the playlist ( remember Bananarama?), the Rohan Keswick team, bedecked in genuine 1980’s Rohan clothing, hosted a nostalgia packed event. Complete with fluorescent hair scrunchies, BIG hair and less than subtle make up (just the girls, unlike the actual 80’s), our team set the tone for the whole event.
But if we thought we were to be the only ones sporting clothing from that decade, we were soon proven to be wrong. Several customers entered into the spirited the celebration by showing up clad in their favourite 80’s Rohan garments, retrieved from the depths of their wardrobes. Not that we ever questioned it, but if we needed confirmation that we have an incredible and loyal set of customers, then our birthday weekend proved it beyond any doubt.
Ben kicked off the proceedings in traditional style by cutting the birthday cake, so beginning a weekend sharing stories of Rohan in the Lake District throughout the preceding 30 years.
Reminiscences of classic Rohan clothing used on adventures both close to home and all over the world were swapped. Comparisons between the relative merits of old and new kit was a popular topic, and with Rohan’s co-founder Sarah Howcroft present, any questions regarding the history of the brand and it’s early years were expertly fielded.
It’s always great to see Sarah, and the Rohan public always love meeting the person who started the whole thing off. With Sarah’s presence, along with Ben’s 30 “Rohan” years, the amount of Rohan knowledge was pretty well unsurpassable.
As ever with such events, it’s all about enjoying the time spent sharing stories and laughs with customers old and new. Some of our visitors to the party weekend have been shopping with us since practically day one of the franchise opening. Others were completely new to the brand but were intrigued by what was happening. And what better way to be introduced to Rohan:- A shop full of people celebrating a long standing love affair with the brand and the Evans family business!
At Rohan Keswick, the team can lay claim to a great wealth of Rohan knowledge and experience. In terms of years’ service, we range from just a year or two, to the full thirty years. Christeen, Leeanne and myself can boast about 33 years between us!
But it’s more than just product knowledge and the day to day running of the shop.
It’s about wanting to be part of the bigger picture. Wanting to contribute to the continuing success of the business. To value and support each other as team members and friends.
It’s about being part of the continuing Evans family franchise story. Part of a family enterprise that above all else values people as the most important thing.
30 years ago, little could Alan, Joy and Ben Evans have envisioned what their family undertaking would become – a study in efficiency, professionalism and above all else, teamwork.
A massive thank you to all who came along and joined in the celebrations and to those who helped to make it happen.
In November Alan and Joy came over from France to join us on a trip down memory lane: a visit to the site of the franchise’s original Rohan shop in Windermere.
Then on to the where the Ambleside shop, formerly part of the family business, had its premises.
Adjacent to the old shop in Ambleside is an intriguingly labelled door. Rohan House was named by Alan after he had designed and remodelled the neighbouring flats.
Homage paid and photos taken, it was time to share stories and reminiscences over a convivial meal and a beer or two. It’s this appreciation of being part of an ongoing story that keeps the Rohan Keswick ethic fresh and strong.
Which brings us to December. We’ve just had our Xmas in store event, thankfully unhindered by flood bringing storms this time! In fact the only thing that was inundated was the shop – with customers! Another one of those memorable days in the history of Rohan Keswick.
The end of any year is often a time to look back and evaluate.
Reflecting upon 2016, it becomes evident that these last 12 months could serve as a snapshot of Rohan Keswick’s preceding 30 years. Devastating lows and amazing highs. Tough challenges and unforeseen circumstance. Wonderful experiences and expectations surpassed. It has undoubtedly been an exceptional year.
So thank you. Thanks to all our customers both long standing and new.
Thanks to all the people who over the years have contributed to our success.
Thank you all for being part of this incredible 30 year odyssey.
On behalf of everyone at Rohan Keswick,
Have a fantastic Christmas and all the very best for 2017!
Here’s to the next 30!
Cheers, Neil – Rohan Keswick
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