Sook retail-space-for-hire opens triumphantly at The Grafton
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.”
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.”
“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?