AIM Hallmarks – Heckington Windmill Trust

Heckington AFTER - New shop units matching vistor centre

Heckington Windmill Trust in Sleaford, Lincolnshire received £5,000 as an AIM Hallmarks Small Grant Scheme to undertake a shop and retail review  

Heckington Windmill is the only 8 sailed windmill in the country and is a Grade I listed building. In 2017 a £1.6m project to purchase the buildings and land adjacent to the windmill, providing a visitor centre, shop, museum, tearoom, and bakehouse was completed. Funding within the project for fittings was limited and we were not able to purchase new shop fittings, instead we made use of salvaged and recycled shelving.   

The shop and ticketing area is in the main Granary building which is directly attached to the windmill. The location and impact of the retail area is very important as it is in the same space as the high-quality interpretation displays in the museum visitor centre. 

In 2019 a MDEM (Museums Development East Midlands) grant enabled us to employ retail consultant Peter Holloway, who carried out a review of our retail offer. Discussions with the volunteer teams allowed us to build an action plan, with the key recommendations being the provision of new retail display units and the sourcing and purchase of new stock ranges.   

The AIM grant has enabled us to purchase and install new shop fittings allowing us to display the products to their best. As a small museum, we rely heavily on additional sales from our visitors to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organisation and the new fittings provide the perfect backdrop for a new range of high-quality merchandise. With better storage we can ensure that perishable goods are stock rotated according to their BBE reducing wastage.   

The quotes from the consultant’s suggested shop fitters came in way over budget, but local research meant we were lucky to be able to secure the services of a young, local craftsman, Ashley Fox who built the new display units. Working with him we were able to design the units to our own specification to include glass shelving, additional storage, LED lighting and removeable screens. He has also been able to repurpose some existing oak shelves into a display unit for the sale of books. The quality of the build is exceptional, and we are extremely pleased with the finished units.  

Trustee Paul Reid, who has responsibility for the Visitor Centre says “The new shelving has made a tremendous difference to shop area of the windmill. They are lighter and in keeping with the rest of this area of the mill and therefore bring a cohesiveness to the building. In practical terms they offer far greater flexibility in the way products can be displayed and give a more professional feel for visitors to the shop”   

Due to the Covid19 outbreak and subsequent closure, we are now beginning to open up the site again and the ability to utilise the remaining funds towards the inevitable expenditure needed to provide safe spaces for our visitors and volunteers has been extremely beneficial. We are extremely grateful to AIM for the grant and would like to thank the team at AIM for their support during this difficult time.   

Jo LewinTrusteeHeckington Windmill Trust.   

Visit the Heckington Windmill website here>>  

For more information on successful retailing for small museums, see AIM’s Retail Success Guide, written by retail consultant, Peter Holloway. Read the Retail Success Guide here>>