Choices, choices and extra qualifications…the birth of a fashion icon.
So, it’s 1988 and what does a Physics graduate take as a career path? The obvious answer, of course, is work in Dad’s sweet shop. So good was I doing that, one of the regulars gave me an honorary degree- VB(Hons). VB is an abbreviation for Vende Bolilla, our local dialect for sweet seller! Somehow, it wasn’t what I had projected my illustrious life to be four years earlier, when I left University with my BSc certificate tucked neatly in the back pocket of my jeans.
So, stick at it and help my parents, or, cop out completely and head for a backpacking adventure in West Africa for an unlimited time?
Luckily, my mother had a third way… give me the sweet shop, let me do what I wanted with it and keep their fingers, toes and anything that they could tie up firmly crossed.
And, so, on the 15th April 1989 Marble Arc was born. It’s been a rollercoaster ride since then, trying to keep up with the changing economic and social landscape. When we started, the internet didn’t exist (fax machines were the latest must-have gadget then!), out of town centres were ugly and scarce, and the term “high street chains” hadn’t been coined yet.
And yet, despite all this increased competition, I’m proud to say that 31 years on, both my team and I are as passionate and committed as ever.
What’s with the name?
We often get customers from the UK giggling when they see our name. They probably think we don’t know how to spell, but, let me reassure you, our name comes from a very deliberate spelling mistake…
When changing my parents sweet shop to a fashion boutique (yes, that’s what they were called in those days) I wanted to keep the goodwill that they had built up over 15 years but wanted to start something new.
The solution? Drop the “haitch”. Marble Arch, that bastion of excellent confectionery, became Marble Arc!
It is very satisfying to hear Gibraltarians pronounce Marble Arch in London as Marble Arc- good job, marketing team!
One Marble Arc, there’s only one….
We get asked all the time and the answer is Nope. There isn’t a Marble Arc in London, nor in Paris. New York, Milan? No, the only Marble Arc is right here in Gibraltar and that’s the way it’s going to stay. However, with marblearc.com, you can visit us wherever you are in the world!
This hashtag was created last year by us and succinctly encapsulates our philosophy over the last 31 years. We started the shop at a time when we felt there was a serious gap in the local market. From the very beginning, our aim was to cater for our local clients and build a rapport with them to develop lasting relationships. As the owner, I am particularly proud that many of my original customers still shop here. The only difference is now they bring their grandchildren with them (yes, we cater for them too)! All the business decisions we make as a team are based on what we believe our local customers want.
Where does this philosophy leave our customers from abroad? In a very good place! We believe that our local customer is as sophisticated and knowledgeable as anyone else. So, most of the products that we sell are equally attractive to outsiders. We like to think we also give them a warm welcome, to make them feel a little llanito!
I am very proud to say that many of our team have been with us for a very long time – much longer than is normal in the retail industry. How you feel about our shop, our service, our products is just as important to them as it is to me.
Their experience, knowledge and personal attention is the difference between us and our big chain competitors, who have a high turnaround of staff who never have the time or the incentives to build a lasting relationship with their clients.
Visit us in store & online at www.marblearc.com today