The Wickerman on High Street was established in 1994 between two makers who saw a gap in the market to provide a platform to promote products that are locally made. The business has gone from strength to strength since then, growing from only local producers to now supplying products made all over Ireland. We caught up with founder Laurence to find out more about one of Belfast’s best independent stores!
Q&A with Laurence
Can you tell us a bit about the products the Wickerman sells?
We sell the products of about 150 different makers and their based all over Ireland. These are hand-made products that are using a lot of traditional skills that are getting lost today. For us it’s important that we should have this platform established for them. So, when visitors from far and wide come in and purchase any of these items they can take a bit of history and Irish heritage with them.
We also stock a range of Game of Thrones merchandise, such as posters, mugs, badges, along with products from freelance artists that worked on the show. These products would be the Dragon Eggs (not copyright) for example within the display cabinet.
What do you love about running a business in Belfast?
I love the fact that Belfast is just always buzzing and there is never two days that are the same as we have people coming from all over the world into the store. In saying this, our customer base is partly local but partly visitors and every day you meet some very good people and hear interesting stories from people and why they are here.
I also love seeing the attraction our knitting and crochet class receives. We have three generations of people come through the door to take part in the class and I just love that we help teach a skill-for-life to all ages.
What do you like to do in Belfast One on your days off?
There are a few spots that I like. I like to go for a drink in the courtyard in Bullitt, and Muriel’s would be another favourite place that I like to go to. But generally, I find Belfast One a nice place to hang about and just go from one venue to the next, I don’t necessarily make solid plans when I go because there are a lot of places that are quite interesting.
What’s next for the Wickerman?
The next step for The Wickerman is that we are organising a guided walking tour of the shop, where we are going to be focusing on seven different indigenous materials that explain why the products are made in Ireland. For example, you have the black thorn walking sticks that you don’t really find anywhere else, they are found in Ireland because there is a lot of black thorn and people have developed the technique of turning a piece of wood into a functional product.
There is also linen, wool, Connemara marble, bull oak and turf that are the type of subjects we are going to be talking about during the tour. We are really excited about it and should be ready to launch in early June.
We are big Game of Thrones fans so we see the potential of using that interest from visitors and locals alike to promote products that are locally made that could have been in the Game of Thrones but are not. So we are delivering a whole theatre experience based on that by getting a set built in our store which is not going to be GOT but medieval to tie in with the theme of GOT such as medieval Europe – bringing in Celtic and Viking artwork into it to make it spectacular.