A BUSINESS owner says opening a new shop on the Herefordshire border has brought her back to life after Covid misery.

Sweets Magnolia, founded by Sarah Rabone, has affordable gifts for women, men, kids and the home – while risky, the venture is her reason to get up in the morning.

Mrs Rabone, 55, has been in Hay-on-Wye for more than a year and has just opened her business in Lion Street, and is hoping to entice people back to the high street.


Helped by her son Adam, a partner in the business who also works at Electric Cafe, her nephew Elliot also lives with her in her Bridge Street home.

The family moved to the Herefordshire border town a year ago after facing struggles such as illness and job worries during the Covid pandemic and Mrs Rabone said they were very settled and very happy, with the town welcoming.

"Some years back I had two little handbag shops in the Cotswolds and due to a change in family circumstances I had to step back from running my business and chose to work full time for many years in charity for Sue Ryder," Mrs Rabone said.


"I loved my job very much so but with the pandemic like for all of us across the world life changed my mother passed away, my daughter has long Covid and being furloughed for so long was disheartening."

Sarah Rabone says her new shop has brought her back to life. Picture: Rob Davies

Sarah Rabone says her new shop has brought her back to life. Picture: Rob Davies

But after months of searching, she came across the Lion Street shop and, with sensible rent and flexible lease from the landlord, this has now become Sweets Magnolia.

"I can truly say my little shop has brought me back to life and given me a reason to get up in the morning," she said.

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"I am not expecting to make a fortune but that is the best thing about working for yourself you can set your own boundaries, you cannot let people down, you can work the hours that suit and most of all you can have a work/life balance doing what you love.

"Am I taking a risk? Absolutely. But the worst case scenario is I would have to close, sell of my stock but at least I will have tried and I know I can make my little shop successful because all you need is passion."

Mrs Rabone said the simple concept that the shop sells something for everyone makes it different, and everything is either sourced within the UK or ethically from Sri Lanka and Vietnam.


"Our price point is the critical element as we sell little gifts from £1.50 up to £80 so affordability is our unique selling point," she added.

"However, cheap can shout tacky, quite the opposite for us all our products are quality and beyond. That was the secret of my success with oriental bags.

"We want to be a destination shop for locals and tourists for repeat business. We are not selling on any social media platform, Amazon, Etsy or eBay, we are about back to basics and enticing people back to the high street."