He told OLN: “We had been looking at it for a while thinking it would be the perfect size for a gin shop, but it had been a jeweller since 1837 so we thought it was never going to come up – and then it did, and you have to jump on these things.”
The business, which opened at the beginning of this month, is off to a “promising start”. Ely Gin is carrying on with its market stall for the moment, but hopes to move all its customers indoors over the coming months.
It is a long, thin space sandwiched between Ely’s high street and its market square, and stocks tonics and mixers, glassware, gift packs, chocolates and even gin-and-tonic soap alongside its range of gins, which come in 10cl, 25cl and 50cl bottles.
Ely Gin also makes a range of preserves from the fruit left over from its infusion process.
“Our products are the focus,” Clark said. “We are not stocking anything that competes with our own products, and there is a wine merchant at the other end
of the high street who stocks Ely Gin alongside other gins, and we don’t want to be in competition with them.”
So far the customer base is more female than male, and the shop is in a good position to cater to Ely’s thriving tourist trade.
Clark set up Ely Gin in 2012 but continued working in IT until last year, when he went full- time in order to keep growing the business.
He said: “Our turnover so far has doubled every year, and we are aiming to double it again this year. In order to grow the business I will probably have to take on an assistant this year, either an apprentice or somebody to do the paperwork. We are on a pretty steep growth curve.”
Ely Gin is sold in shops around the country, but has a particularly big local following in Cambridgeshire and in the West Midlands and Staffordshire, where it is mainly sold at food markets and fairs.
“We get local people who are very proud that the gin is made in Ely, and we have also got the tourist industry, in which anything that has got Ely written on it is going to sell,” Clark said.