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We have been selling Seashells for nearly 40 years and my father Peter has forgotten more about shells than most people will ever learn.
My grandparents actually started the shells business in the 50's when my father was small. They would collect shells from our local beaches and make shell novelties such as small mice, ships and shell ladies to sell at the local market. As popularity grew the family holidays would always include a trip to the beach to collect shells and all 6 children would take part.
When he came home from university in London in the 1960s Peter wanted to stay in Cornwall and then as now jobs were scarce and you had to make your own luck. He looked at his parents little enterprise and started thinking of ways to expand it. He knew that simply collecting shells from the beaches was not practical on a bigger scale. Many of us enjoy shell fish and at that time the shells were simply discarded to landfill. He started buying scallops, cockles, mussels, whelks, oysters...from these food companies and set about learning how to clean them to a high standard.
Cleaning shells is a complicated business and Peter's technique is a closely guarded secret, much like the Coca cola recipe, even from those of us closest in the business. The business took off and soon the shells were flying out of a shed behind his parents house but he needed more space and so took on a small unit in his home town. He started looking to expand the types of shells he could use buy and sell and searched abroad. Soon abalone and other shell fish were being imported and Peter was becoming well known in his field. The business grew and if you bought a shell at the seaside there was a good chance it had been cleaned and sold by our little business in Cornwall.
Although over the years we have expanded we are still only 2 miles from my Grandparents house where it all started over 50 years ago. All through my childhood I would help my father and spent hours in my granny's workshop where she still made her shell novelties and shell pictures. Sometimes she would let me paint the eyes onto her shell ladies or glue wobbly eyes onto the mice.
I, in turn, left Cornwall for pastures new but have come back to help in this most unusual of family businesses. Technology has changed from those days and now we are joining it in starting up our own online store.
Please, look around. We are only just starting in this medium and I know it will take us a while to get there. We are a small company so please, if you would like to talk to us before you order or would like to order over the phone, just pick up the phone.