Shop owner to retire after decades of selling Europe’s top trends

Renate Beaumont, originally from Linz in Austria, moved to the UK in 1973 after meeting her husband who had been on a skiing holiday in her homeland.

After years of touring fashion weeks across the world in the decades that followed, Mrs Beaumont decided to open her clothes and homeware shop Vanilla in 2000.

The shop has been a mainstay at its South Parade address in Summertown ever since but the fashionista has now decided to retire at the end of March.

Oxford Mail: Renate is retiring at the end of March.Renate is retiring at the end of March. (Image: Newsquest)

“It’s a new chapter in my life and I have enjoyed the 24 years here and had an amazing time,” said Mrs Beaumont.

“I have so many loyal regular customers who have supported me since I opened and continue to do so but obviously everyone is very sad now.

“Everything is made for me so I order the stock six months before when I will receive it and I choose the colours, the fabric and the sizing.

“I used to travel to Milan, Paris and Copenhagen Fashion Weeks as well as Morocco so I did a lot of travelling different quality stuff that you don’t get in a chain.

Oxford Mail: Inside Vanilla in Summertown.Inside Vanilla in Summertown. (Image: Newsquest)

“It is totally exclusive and independent so I think that really made the shop work as it was something very special which even survived the pandemic as well.”

The 72-year-old will finish on Thursday, March 28 after deciding to move on due to her age but already has plans for the future.

“I am retiring because of my age but I’ve got three dogs and grandchildren so I’ll be looking after them full-time now,” she continued.

“I also go back to Austria at least once a year, sometimes twice as I still have my sisters there and I am going back this summer.

Oxford Mail: The shop has been open for 24 years.The shop has been open for 24 years. (Image: Newsquest)

“I left home at 18 years old, moving to Vienna to work as a graphic artist and I also worked for 12 years as a manager for Whistles when it first started in Oxford.

“Since then I opened Vanilla and have sold so much over the 24 years and have always been sourcing for new and interesting things.”

The shop will remain open after Mrs Beaumont departs but it will change its name to White Coco with new owners set to move in.

“I met the new owner for the first time just two months ago when she came in to view the shop and showed an interest,” she said.

“She is a very lovely lady who already has two shops so it should be a fairly smooth transition.”

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