Siop Cwlwm is probably the only Welsh shop in England! The shop is run by business partners and mother and daughter team, Linda and Lowri. Lowri’s background is Welsh translation, and mum Linda is a retired teacher, and they are both from Penybontfawr in the Tanat Valley.
The shop started in Oswestry indoor market in 2010 as Linda and Lowri felt it was a ‘low risk’ way of testing the market. With Neither coming from a retail background, they developed the business from a shopper’s perspective. “The market management and the Town Council have been extremely supportive and helpful during our time in the market. We just ran out of space as the business grew,” Lowri said.
“We then took an office on Arthur Street and moved the online operation to there. This enabled us to continue to grow and develop the business, but it wasn’t the most time-efficient way of doing things, having two locations. We’ve been looking for a suitable shop unit in Oswestry since 2021 and were delighted to find 33 Bailey Street. It’s previous use as a computer shop and workshop meant the ‘back shop’ area is perfect for our online operation. Being in Bailey Street means we’re right in the medieval retail centre of Oswestry – an ideal reflection of our bilingual heritage,” Lowri explained.
Talking about why they set up the shop, Lowri said, “We started the business because Welsh speakers could buy everything in Oswestry apart from Welsh books, cards and gifts. We’re passionate first language speakers of Welsh and want the language to thrive and develop.”
Even if you don’t speak the language, you may have Welsh speaking relatives who would love an original gift. The shop stocks Welsh books, cards and gifts. “We try to avoid the Welsh stereotypes of red dragons and daffodils and celebrate and promote the vibrant and modern culture that exists today. We’re proud to reflect the bilingual heritage of Oswestry, as the Welsh language has been spoken here throughout history.”
Most popular in the shop are currently greetings cards, children’s books, Love spoons, socks, bucket hats (football related due to Wales reaching the World Cup for the first time since 1958). Linda and Lowri are a wealth of information, and they love helping learners to find books and resources to help their journey to learn Welsh, as well as signposting them to local lessons and classes. They also love to help family members choose suitable Welsh books for children.
Amongst their customers are Welsh speakers who live in the area or are visiting, adults who are learning Welsh or want to learn it and people buying a gift for a Welsh speaking friend or relative. “The Welsh language belongs to everyone in Britain, and we like to think we’ve got something for everyone!” said Lowri.
As well as selling in the shop, they make a lot of sales online and this is what has enabled them to grow the business and move from the market to Bailey Street.
When you visit the shop, you will find a loyalty scheme, half price books and Love Reading scheme for schools, which all help.
The shop will be open late on selected evenings and on 2 December for Christmas Live.
Pictured: Meet Lowri from Siop Cwlwm.