Dowsing and Reynolds store in Leeds could help save the high street

It’s easy to feel depressed about the future of Britain’s high streets but those who love “proper shopping” will find succour in the story of Dowsing and Reynolds.A Yorkshire-based designer, maker and retailer of homeware that is both original and beautiful, it built its reputation via its hugely successful website that trades worldwide and has a legion of famous fans.

Its USP is in selling what it terms “striking fittings and stylish accents”. They include those hard-to-find items, such as gorgeous handles, light switches, sockets, bulbs, showers and taps, along with its own paint, own design lighting, real moss- for those fashionable moss walls, and other home accessories“It’s those boring things are often overlooked, like the humble light switch, but which can make a big difference if you get them right,” says Ally Dowsing-Reynolds, who founded the business with her husband, James.Its recent decision to complement the online shop with a bricks and mortar store in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds, heralds hope for the future of retail.According to Ally, shoppers still want to touch and feel products but they don’t just want to see them stacked on shelves. That’s why she and James have concentrated on customer experience.

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Set over two floors, their shop was designed with help from interior designer Karen Knox and retail psychologist Kate Nightingale.There is a dedicated section for each area of the home, including a bedroom and a bathroom, and the walls are in “Mud Wrestling”, a deep grey paint that adds to the cosy atmosphere.“There’s a lot of gloom surrounding big high street stores but there are also positive stories about smaller retailers like us who do something a little bit different.“I think the high street is far from dead.It’s just time for it to evolve and change,” says Ally, who is still enjoying the journey that began seven years ago when James, a sculptor, realised there was a market for industrial lighting.

Dowsing and Reynolds sockets and switches

He began making lights and expanded the range to include other homeware. The Dowsing & Reynolds online shop was built by digital expert Ally and the creative couple were joined by operations director Tony Green and now have 50 staff at their headquarters in Meanwood, Leeds.

James and Ally Dowsing-Reynolds with operations director Tony Green

Their next move will be to open a store in London, where most of their online shoppers are.“We want to make sure we get the brand experience right,” says Ally. “Plus we wanted to open the first shop on home turf first because it’s so close to our hearts.”*Dowsing & Reynolds can be found at 25- 29 County Arcade, Victoria Quarter, Leeds.The 2,100sq ft shop spans two floors and features room sets, including a bedroom and bathroom.The online shop is at www.dowsingandreynolds.com

The shower room in store with rainfall showers