Home   Business   Article

Subscribe Now

Sook retail-space-for-hire opens triumphantly at The Grafton





John Hoyle, Sook's CEO and founder in the Grafton Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell
John Hoyle, Sook's CEO and founder in the Grafton Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell

Sook has opened its latest retail option in The Grafton.

The rent-by-the-hour shop is the second Sook venture in Cambridge. The first, next to the CB2 café on Norfolk Street, has been fully booked by Full Circle, the ethical food and products company which runs a stall on the market square, and Serpentine Swap, the pop-up vintage and second-hand clothing store which was previously based at Relevant Records in Mill Road.

The new site, opposite the table-tennis parlour in the shopping centre, has already held its first events. Wonder Festival launched its SoBar sober social events service at the Sook space on Saturday evening (January 25), and the Dragon Boat Festival held its annual launch at the site earlier the same day.

“We already have regular bookings from some jewellers,” says Sook founder John Hoyle, “and lots of different types of yoga – gong relaxation, hip-hop, rave yoga, and we’re in a conversation with CamYoga. The yoga mats are stored here and the back office becomes the changing room.”

WONDER Festival team launch party for SoBar at Sook on January 25, 2020
WONDER Festival team launch party for SoBar at Sook on January 25, 2020

Other bookings for the elegantly lit and furnished premises have come from Cambridge BID and various acoustic open mic events.

“We just had a new floor installed,” says John. “The music is very loud, with speakers behind the screens. There are 10,000 different lighting settings, linked to the wifi.

“It’s about building relationships with other food and beverage operators, so on February 1 we had Amber’s 14th birthday with 44 other 14-year-olds, the pizza is from La Piazza and Lilo’s did the cakes, and a nail bar, so it’s a nice melting pot for local businesses.”

The screens and signage were installed by Ely-based consumer specialist Hughes Electrical, whose business development manager is Steve Dempsey.

“I work for Hughes Trade,” says Steve, “and this project was put together in conjunction with Hughes Smart, which provides smart solutions for home and commercial use.

“The challenge was to make it all seamless, making sure the technology matched the vision.”

Dragon boat launch at Sook in The Grafton with, from left, Emily Willdigg from ACT, Sally Page and Lucy Morton. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dragon boat launch at Sook in The Grafton with, from left, Emily Willdigg from ACT, Sally Page and Lucy Morton. Picture: Keith Heppell

“We are getting really amazing levels of interest,” adds John. “The guy who founded Westfield was here yesterday, he wants to install Sook in North Africa, South America and Europe. Esther McVey, the housing minister, has been following our progress. Legal & General have been super-helpful.

A fundraising round has just closed.

“It was oversubscribed twice over,” says John. “So far we’ve raised £680,000 in total, with this last round, which started in September, raising £450,000.

“The focus now is on big tenants for the prime times of the week to allow everyone else to create a virtual world that suits them.”

Who knew being a retailer could be such fun?

Suzie Young left, and Lisa Pollitt of WONDER Festival with 'healthy hedonist' range of botanical drinks
Suzie Young left, and Lisa Pollitt of WONDER Festival with 'healthy hedonist' range of botanical drinks


This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More