All businesses need somewhere to call home, Totally Wicked is no different.
Our home is in Blackburn, Lancashire. A proud old mill town that perhaps to some has seen better days, but to our business it is simply our home town. Often, as in life, when you scratch below the surface of any town, you find personal stories and life tales. Too often in our modern busy lives we fail to sometimes stop, consider and reflect upon these.
In 2011 Jason Cropper, founder of Totally Wicked, made the decision that the business needed to truly establish itself. He set about building the foundations that would sustain our business and invested in an empty garage, on a 2-acre plot within an old industrial area of Blackburn. The garage, and more recently a car showroom, had been for sale for a number of years.
It was a brave move to buy the property and land, setting out on a journey of development and growth for the business almost 6 years ago. We were very much still in the infancy of vaping as a concept, never mind a long-term business venture. By January 2012 the business had moved into its newly refurbished and reconfigured business premises. We have been growing and developing our business ever since.
Over the last 6 years, we have built a strong relationship with our only immediate neighbour, Jim Beardsworth, who owned the only domestic building on Stancliffe Street for half a mile in each direction, an oasis of domesticity amongst the consuming industrial neighbourhood.
Jim’s property was not the result of some 1960’s planning aberration, but the legacy of the garage that Totally Wicked bought in 2011. His father built the family business, Beardsworth’s, a well-known and much loved family garage and repair shop, in the days before Shell and BP forecourts consumed these types of businesses. Jim’s dad not only built the garage and workshop, he also built the family’s home immediately next to the garage, the house that Jim grew up in as a boy and the house he inherited when his father sadly died in 1997.
It was also about this time that the impact of the changing landscape and expectations of customers changed. Small family run businesses found it ever more difficult to compete with the multi-nationals when extra pennies on a gallon of petrol was important to everyone, it was then that Jim decided the business could no longer continue. With a heavy heart, the business was sold to a car dealership, the petrol pumps where removed and the old workshop and offices became the showroom and service centre. Jim continued to live in the old family bungalow with his new neighbour. In 2006 the car dealership shut its doors and the premises remained unused for 5 years, until Totally Wicked saw its potential. From petrol forecourt to vaping business was not what Jim foresaw for his father’s and his business’ legacy. However as Jim explained,
“I will miss living in the bungalow but I’m glad to see Totally Wicked progress and it is time to move on.”
Jim has become a friend of the business, often dropping in to speak to the team and show off a new addition to his collection of hammers! Yes you read it correctly, no stamps or Dandy annuals for Jim, one aspect of the move he has been concerned with is the loss of his garages and storage space for his hammer collection.
The old bungalow will later this year be demolished and a new extension to Totally Wicked’s production capacity will be built on the land and Jim’s old ‘secret garden’ tucked away at the back of the property, where Jim’s three children used to play. Far from maudlin nostalgia, Jim is happy and proud that his old business and house are being put to good use.
“It’s been great to see Totally Wicked grow over the years; supporting the local area and providing lots of jobs for local people.”
It is clear to see that Jim is happy to see his legacy live on through Totally Wicked, as he went on to say:
“The Totally Wicked Headquarters is an iconic landmark in this area. I remember when people would say ‘just up by the Beardsworth Garage’, not much has changed except now they say ‘just up near Totally Wicked’.”
Are you local and remember the Beardsworth Garage? Let us know in the comments below.