TV stars and Father Christmas welcome new Rugeley store on day Christmas lights are switched on
It was a double celebration in Rugeley for a new antiques centre which has opened in the town centre, and two special guests joined in.
Television antiques expert Thomas Forrester popped in to cut the ribbon on The Loft Vintage and Antiques, which has opened in a unit next to the Brewery Street Arcade.
Father Christmas also dropped in for a visit as part of the Rugeley lights switch-on later in the day and even a Dalek made an appearance to christen the new venture.
Mr Forrester – who regularly appears on TV including on the popular Bargain Hunt – has acted as somewhat of a mentor to manager Franki Falkow. She started her journey in the antiques business 18 months ago working at Foregate Street Vintage Emporium in Stafford, which is now a sister business to The Loft.
Owners Paul E Bottomer and Chris Byrne have expanded from the Stafford shop to the unit in Rugeley which has variously hosted a snooker club and bar, and Franki was the natural choice to manage it.
She said: "I have enjoyed working in antiques and collectibles since being taken on at the emporium where the two owners and Thomas have been so helpful and supportive as I came into it with little to no experience.
"I have learned a lot from Thomas in sitting in on valuations and he is always there at the end of the phone with advice on what to buy and whether an item will be worth much. It is easy to think he only appears on television but he is very active across Staffordshire and elsewhere and his expertise is in demand.
"The Stafford store has gone from strength to strength and there is a lot of interest in Lichfield as well in the market – as well as serving the people of Rugeley and welcoming them in, we hope to attract enthusiasts from far and wide.
"It was a great day to open the store to coincide with the lights switch on which is always a big occasion – Rugeley is a friendly and welcoming community, we have a good space here for people to visit and the interest has already been great."