We recently started a series about the businesses who have made their home at The Arches. We started with Stacey from La Ama De Casa Spanish Cleaning Products (read the blog here) and this week we are talking to Phil from Simply Bonsai.
Simply Bonsai could definitely be called a hidden treasure, tucked away on the ground floor of The Arches. Next time you pass The Arches, you’ll be likely spot their array of Bonsai Trees outside the shop. As we’ll learn in the blog post, Simply Bonsai is a relatively new business opening in March of this year offering a range of unique services including looking after your bonsai tree whilst you are on holiday! The level of customer care is the kind you’ll only get from a small businesses like this. Now let’s get started with the interview…
1. What inspired you to start your business? How long have you being trading?
I was inspired by my mother who sadly died in June 2021 from Dementia, she absolutely loved her gardening and instilled that in me, although I have been fascinated by Bonsai trees since I was in the Navy and visited some of the Countries where they are grown everywhere. It was a combination of my Mother’s Mental illness and my own PTSD, Anxiety and Depression that made me realise that practicing the Art of Bonsai has a positive impact on mental wellbeing. We opened in the Arches in March of this year.
2. What is your favourite part about running a small, local business?
The best part of running a small business is being able to meet all your customers and chat with them about something we are interested in. That, combined with the control we have as to which direction we take it is very important to us.
3. What makes your business special? Why should someone choose your business?
Our business is special because it is unique to Hartlepool and the surrounding area. We have had customers come to see us from well outside the area, Yorkshire, Lancashire and even down near London.
We pride ourselves on the care and help we offer our customers even after they have brought one of our trees. If they go on Holiday they can drop the trees into us and we will care for them whilst they are away, we provide a care sheet to help people get to know their tree and classes if they want to learn more about them. It is this that makes us unique and why people should come and see us to discuss a Bonsai Tree before they buy one.
4. Introduce us to the products you offer and why they should shop at Simply Bonsai.
We stock a wide variety of Bonsai Trees Indoors and outdoors, from easy to look after for beginners to the more what we call ‘Divas’ of Bonsai Trees for those that are more experienced. We also stock lots of different pots, tools and soils. What might surprise some is that we are the only Bonsai shop in Hartlepool and the next nearest specialist Bonsai shop is in Yorkshire or further up in Northumberland.
5. Tell us about why you decided to open in The Arches and what that experience is like.
We decided on the Arches as the rent is very reasonable and everyone running a business here are such lovely people, we are a little community and are always here for each other. The experience so far has been nothing but positive.
6. Why did you decide to start hosting events for local people? Tell us a bit about some of those.
We started hosting little workshops and a ‘Create your own mini Garden’ events to help the local community with mental health, wellbeing, social isolation and inclusion. We try to keep the prices to a minimum for those that are experiencing financial difficulties. We do this by applying for funding as a CIC, we are a ‘not for profit’ company. When all overheads and costs are paid any remaining money goes back into our community and other events that we hold around various locations in Hartlepool and surrounding boroughs.
7. Tell us a fun fact about you or your business.
A fun fact mmmm ok so we do try to do some weird and wonderful things, one of the most recent one comes to mind was one of our customers came to us with their loved ones ashes and we redid their pot with a new healthy tree. To view the whole of this story you can view it on our Facebook page Simply Bonsai.
It is safe to say Simple Bonsai is a unique business, with their customers at the heart of everything they do. You’ll not only leave with your very own bonsai tree, but you’ll leave with all of the knowledge to look after your chosen tree. You can see how much the Phil and co-owner Rachael care about what they do, starting from the reason they started the business and continuing in the service they offer.
You can support their business by following their social media or by visiting their shop. You can find all their details by taking a look at their Shop Hartlepool page. If you are looking for a Christmas gift, we even heard they’ll take good care of the tree you pick until near the big day!