Banbury’s Pop is top of the shops

Carly Allison and Sophie Powell have won the backing of the Muddy Stilletos voters.Carly Allison and Sophie Powell have won the backing of the Muddy Stilletos voters.
Carly Allison and Sophie Powell have won the backing of the Muddy Stilletos voters.
A bright and bold addition to Banbury’s High Street has just been named best children’s business in awards that celebrate the best independents around.

Pop opened as a shop last year but traces its roots back to 2016 through the coming together of two women on maternity leave – Carly Allison and Sophie Powell.

Since then they have won the Junior Design Award for Best Children's Lifestyle Retailer two years in a row – and can now add the Muddy Stilletos category win for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

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It’s an award that sees readers of the Muddy Stilletos website nominate and vote for their favourites across 27 categories – and Pop was the shining light for Banbury as it won the children’s business award.

The pair said: "Winning the Muddy Stilettos award is the ultimate accolade.

"To have received so many votes from our customers and local businesses who continue to support our dream every day means so much to us. When we launched Pop in 2016 we always dreamed of opening a shop in our local town and in November 2021 we were lucky enough to find the perfect shop to make that dream come true.

"Pop is a curated kids and lifestyle concept store featuring the very best hard-to-find toys, books and playful homeware from the most exciting family-run brands and independent businesses around the world.

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"We work tirelessly to find unique products that capture the imaginations of children and grown-ups alike. Seeing the joy that our shop brings to so many, and seeing the community that we are growing is what we set out to do and makes all the hard work worthwhile."

Reflecting on how the business started, they said: “When you have your babies, your world shifts ever-so-slightly on its axis. And there, in this new space, we were very lucky to find each other. Like-minded in every possible way; we came together as mums and found that our career experience and ambitions slotted perfectly together. We both knew great design. We both wanted to surround our children with creativity. And we both saw the pleasure that unique independent brands could bring to families like our own. Pop was born.

"We love what we do. And it comes across in every part of our business. In our personal commitment to our customer service. In the tenacious energy with which we pursue new products. And in the exciting ideas that spark in both our minds at precisely the same moment.”

And having progressed from an online shop, to pop-up and now a permanent shop, they are pleased to be part of Banbury town centre: “We feel incredibly lucky to be part of such a great community and the support we receive locally is fantastic. Everyone knows how tough retail is, but we honestly feel like there is such a switch with so many independents opening in Banbury and we are always overwhelmed by the support we receive from our customers.”

Other nearby winners were The Wild Rabbit at Kingham, which won the best boutique stay category and Darl-e and the Bear at Woodstock, which was named best artspace.

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