Christmas in the cathedral shop

Truro Cathedral shop supervisor Celia Bray standing inside the shop

Finishing touches have been made to glittering window displays throughout high streets across the land as shoppers flock to find that perfect gift. With Christmas fast approaching, Celia Bray, shop supervisor, talks about what’s extra special about the cathedral shop at this time of year…

How does the cathedral shop prepare for Christmas?
Planning starts early in the new year, discussing fresh ideas, partly based on the previous Christmas but also visiting trade shows, which exhibit the latest products, in January. Later in the year, displaying our Christmas lines amongst our other popular products can be a challenge – but one we relish! We are blessed to have a lovely team of volunteers who bring their own ideas and not only serve in the shop but help with pricing etc., a real ‘Godsend’ in our busy periods such as Christmas.

The cathedral shop is right in the heart of Truro – does the atmosphere in the city change in the run up to Christmas and during Late Night Shopping?
Yes. We have visitors all year but from October, things begin to change especially as many hotels run three-night ‘Turkey & Tinsel’ offers. Late Night Shopping nights are different again – we welcome lots of customers including those who are not usually able to shop here. Those shopping for the first time are often surprised by our range. On those nights we also offer mulled wine, at a small cost, as customers come in – that’s enjoyed by them too!

What’s the most popular item in the cathedral shop at Christmastime?
We have a lovely selection of decorations, including some bespoke to Truro and the cathedral and a great selection of Gisela Graham decorations which are also sold in Harrods. We have a beautiful range of nativity sets at various prices too. There’s no doubt though that one of the most popular items is our fundraising calendar, which is bought as a present for people all over the world, highlighting Cornwall and Truro Cathedral.

What is special about the cathedral shop at Christmas?
As someone with a strong Christian faith, what stands out for me is that we try to focus on the true reason we have this celebration each year - the birth of Jesus. We often have conversations about the meaning of Christmas when our nativity sets are admired. Our books are generally Christian-based and the children’s section helps to be a reminder that it is not just about Father Christmas.

What do you most enjoy about working in the cathedral shop?
My husband, Kevin, also works as part of the cathedral team on the Slate Station, and I’d say for both of us, the answer to this is the same: Meeting people. Very much local regulars but also visitors from all over the world. Working with the staff we have and the volunteers. Every day is a little – sometimes, a lot – different!

What’s your favourite part of Christmas in the cathedral shop?
This will be my seventh Christmas as part of the cathedral team, and still my favourite part is seeing the children’s excitement, especially when they see our daily countdown of remaining ‘sleeps’ until the 25th! I love advising on presents, especially the nativity sets, and of course there’s that last-minute rush to help…….well guess who?

The Cathedral Shop is open Monday to Friday 10:00 - 17:00 and until 20:00 on Late Night Shopping nights, Saturday 10:00 - 16:00 and Sunday 11:00 - 15:00.