A Buckinghamshire shopkeeper has said goodbye to her 13-year-old shop, which sells perfume and gifts. Love Lana in Olney Market Square will close on April 30th as owner Sharon Cross begins the next chapter in her life.
After opening in September 2009, Sharon has decided that after 42 years in the game, it’s finally time to hang up her coat. She has worked for a number of companies over the years including House of Fraser and Debenhams on everything from visual merchandising to store management.
After working at Debenhams in Milton Keynes, Sharon decided she wanted to take a year off and have some time to herself. Speaking to BuckinghamshireLive, she revealed that she “didn’t spend much time with my mum because I was always working and also had a daughter”.
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Back then, she wanted a change, so she decided to renovate her house. Her mother stayed with her for a while to help her.
Where Love Lana began
Sharon has worked with many brands and when she was thinking about opening her own store she asked Kenneth Green Associates if they would support her. They don’t usually help independent businesses, but they supported them and “that was my basis for having my own business”.
Sharon said: “My mum and I had a chat on Monday night about what I was going to do next. That was I would like to have my own business but I wanted it in Olney. She loved Olney, she loved teapots, she used to come over to Teapots of Olney all the time. I used to come here with her all the time.”
Sharon’s mother had told her that she would love it if she had her own shop and “if I could make it for you, I would”. Sharon’s mother died on Wednesday evening – leaving her and her sister’s house in London.
Sharon explained: “On Thursday we were supposed to go all over town (Olney) and go into every store and have a look but she never made it. But she made it through because she’s with me all the time, every time I need an answer, I ask my question and I get an answer.”
Her death was very sudden as “one minute she was there, one minute she was gone”. Sharon used her mother’s money to open her shop in Olney after asking each shop if the owner still wanted it.
She managed to find her current location, 23 Market Place, and open her dream store, which she named after her daughter, Lana. She said: “There wasn’t a perfume option in Olney and it brought a bit of glamor to the town.”
A new chapter
After 42 years in retail and 13 years as managing director of Love Lana, Sharon has decided it’s her time. She said: “I’ve entered a new decade and I’ve had the most amazing year since reopening post Covid. Business has been very good, local people have been so supportive, but I have a decision to make – it’s my time.
Sharon, now 60, met someone “quite bizarre” who lives on a narrow boat during Covid. She renovated half of his narrow boat last summer and was due to finish the other half this summer until he asked her to move in.
Having spent the last eight years renovating her current cottage, she decided to take the spontaneous plunge and say yes. She sold her property within 36 hours, with someone buying the entire interior except for a few trees, pictures and lamps.
“We will finish this boat and then sell that in August and then we will get a longer boat. I absolutely love it, it’s another world.
“I loved the business, it’s 13 years old now, I loved this business but this is for me,” Sharon recalled. “I will miss the customers, I will miss the conversations and I will miss talking about everyone’s lives and helping. It was a hurricane. I’m so overwhelmed.”
Discussing her future on the boat, she said: “Maybe something is in the pipeline but we’ll see how things go.” She added that her mother “knows I have to do something else now.”
What will become of the store?
Sharon gave Rose, who owns The Snug Bookshop, a site of her shop, which is in the same building but not affiliated, in January before the pandemic. Rose wanted to expand and is now taking over the site where Love Lana is located.
A local artist, Katie Brown, will use the space at The Snug Bookshop to sell her own artwork, jewellery, hand creams and the popular bath bomb and balloons that Sharon sold in Love to Lana.
Sharon added: “These two younger ladies than me are having their time now. I have no regrets, I loved every minute of it and this is an important decade. I’ve made some very good friends, some lifelong friends. I feel very privileged – it’s been an amazing journey.”