Conor ‘loving’ being a business owner with new Derry shop

Conor Irvine officially opened Vine Home Living on Shipquay Street in April and the Derry man is ‘loving’ running his own business.

Vine Living specialises in gifts and homeware and Conor hopes to make every customer who enters the store to feel welcome and listened to.

Conor said: “I have worked in retail all my life. I became a manager when I was 22 and had the chance to work with great brands locally and abroad. I’m 32 now so I felt like it was time for me to push myself a bit further and that’s why I started Vine.”

Conor first started out with a stall in the Richmond Centre at Christmas time before moving to his new, permanent location.

Conor Irvine, proprietor, pictured outside the newly opened Vine Home and Gifts, 16 Shipquay Street, Derry. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2217GS – 110

He said: “I started really small and it was sort of a blessing. The store launched at 50% capacity and then people came in and told me what they wanted and I went from there. The buy-in has really come from the customers and everyone locally. The customers recommended brands that they want to see and I just followed what they were looking for and try to do it.
“I’m really inspired by places like Selfridges; a young, contemporary place where people in their 20s and above can go and get some really great, locally-made products. I wanted to create a place like that. We were really lucky to get Shipquay Street because it’s such a famous street in the city and a landmark spot. It’s been really great so far, the people of Derry have been so supportive. I find that having a business is much more one-to-one and I can really get to know people, I’m loving it. People come in for gifts and I get to know why they’re buying them and who they’re for and that relationship with customers is something that I really enjoy. It’s tourist season now, too, so I’m finding it really refreshing to see how many tourists are actually coming to the city. I love advising them on my favourite places to go in the city and some of them even come back and tell me how they got on! That’s just great.”

The ‘death of the high-street’ is a commonly used phrase nowadays but, although he has seen the decline in high-street shopping himself over the years, Conor doesn’t let it hold him back from achieving his goals.

He said: “Being in retail, I saw the hight-street at its best when I was 16 and, before I went into business myself, I could definitely see that things have flattened out. You can see that in staff shortages and stock-wise in the stores. I try to be positive and have a positive outlook on life so I work with my customers and keep going that way, not looking at the negative side of things. We’re trying out new products now and expanding our stock, people really love the brands we have in. We’re also trying to prepare for Christmas so doing gift sets and working with the wholesalers on that. It’s going to be a busy time but I am excited!”

Walking around Vine, there’s wonderful smells, ambient music and even free coffee. Conor want’s shoppers to feel at ease when they visit the store.
“It’s all about the senses!” he said. “I love nice music and a good scent so I incorporate that into the store. It’s called Vine Living so it’s all about home and lifestyle and that’s what you’re going to get when you come in here for sure. I stock things like luxury, locally made, hand-poured candles, wax melts and diffusers. We have a whole botanical range of bath bombs and hand soaps and we have a full Derry range of cards, prints, mugs and magnets as well as gorgeous fudges that come in flavours from Irish whiskey to sea salted caramel. All the food has won Irish Food Awards, such as the Causeway Coffee, and we have an amazing deli range from artisan cheeses, chorizos and relishes. We have it all going on. Most of the products are from the north of Ireland and locally made.

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Olivia Ross, Alannah Campbell, Kendra Allen and Jayne Quigley pictured at recent official opening of Vine Home and Gifts, 16 Shipquay Street, Derry. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2217GS – 111

“We do a great gift range, where you can come in and make up your own hamper. We do everything from bridesmaid gift boxes, to birthday gift boxes. If you’re stuck for your dad or a man, the deli boxes go down great with chorizos and charcuterie. We do great handmade wooden chopping boards to go with them too so it’s a lovely touch. When people are looking for a gift, they’re always looking for ideas so I’m here for a helping hand to help guide you through whatever it is you’re looking for. We find out what the person would like and try incorporate that into the gift for them. It’s a very personal experience and I like to think we have something for everyone.”

Vine Living are located at 16 Shipquay Street. Their stock and opening hours can be viewed at vine-living.co.uk or on Instagram at @vinelivinghomeandgift.

Roslyn McCool, Donna Campbell, Paula Irvine and Ann McElhinney pictured at recent official opening of Vine Home and Gifts, 16 Shipquay Street, Derry. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2217GS – 112

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Michelle Campbell, Conor Irvine (proprietor) and Brian ward pictured at recent official opening of Vine Home and Gifts, 16 Shipquay Street, Derry. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2217GS – 113
Interior of the newly opened Vine Home and Gifts, 16 Shipquay Street, Derry. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2217GS – 116
Some of the chocolates available in Vine Living with common Derry phrases.
Gift baskets available at Vine Living on Shipquay Street in Derry.