Trips to Italy helping make Doncaster a place to buy designer children's gear with brands like Moschino, Paul and Shark, Michael Kors, Baby A, Le Chic and Bimbalo

iIt's a tough job '“ but someone's got to do it.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 09 November, 2018, 08:00

Each January, just as the cold Yorkshire winter grips Doncaster, businesswoman Lorna Hill has to leave the borough to spend a few days in the historic Italian city of Florence.

The milder Mediterranean climate may be the attraction for many, but Lorna does not make the journey for climatological reasons.

Lorna Hill in Little Devils in Doncaster

For Lorna, it is one of two trips to the famous Renaissance city each year, made so that she can bring back the latest designer gear to be sold in her shop in Doncaster town centre.

The grandmother and shop boss is the owner of the longstanding shop Little Devils, which has been selling high end clothes for nearly two decades from its premises on Printing Office Street.

She originally worked at the shop under its previous owner, first starting there 18 years ago. In those days, she would price things up in Doncaster, while the owner went abroad looking for new lines to bring back to Yorkshire.

But Lorna bought the business five years ago '“ taking over the responsibility for choosing the clothes.

Lorna Hill in Little Devils in Doncaster

She said: 'I go to Florence twice a year, when there are big shows on. It is where you can meet the designers and make the important contacts. It is hard work, but I love it.

'I'm my own boss here and I like what we do.

'We have a lot of people who come into Doncaster especially to get designer items from us. We have a lot of regular customers who come here because of our range.

'We do ranges including Moschino, Paul and Shark, Michael Kors, Baby A ,Le Chic and Bimbalo, and people come here because they can pick up something that they can't get elsewhere.'

Lorna Hill, boss of Little Devils, on Printing Office Street, Doncaster, which sells designer clothes for children

Designer labels do not come cheap, but Lorna believes that the prices in Doncaster are still lower than people would pay in some stores in London.

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You would not get much change from £100 even for the cheapest children's coat in the store. For a snow coat nearer the top of the range from one of the top designers, you can pay as much as £225.

Lorna says she has had to adapt in recent years since the economy took a downturn in 2008.

"We've had to go cheaper with some of the brands and makers that we stock," she said.

"We used to be able to say it was Saturday that was the busy day. Now you can sometimes sit all day on Saturday, but get a busy weekday. 

"But we are established and people know we do designer labels.

"Retail is a lot harder than it was - money isn't about in the same way over the last seven or eight years. You have to do a payment plan now so people can spread their payment over time, which we didn't when we first opened.

"The payment plans are something we offer that the internet does not usually.'

She believes that recently things have improved, and says recent action by South Yorkshire Police and Doncaster Council to remove beggars and spice users from the streets have been successful.

And she has found the recent opening of a Flannels store, selling designer clothing on the same street opposite her store to be helpful.

'We have had a few people coming across from Flannels to us, and we have sent a few over the road to them. There are labels that we sell that they don't, and there are labels that they sell that we don't. I think it will help bring people in.

'I really think Doncaster is now a good location for designer clothes. There is us, there is Humpty Dumpty on French Gate, and now there's Flannels.'

She knows very well how discerning children can be when it comes to clothes.

On one occasion she was looking to find a coat for her six year old granddaughter. 

'She came in and tried one on,' said Lorna. 'She liked it. I had some half price ones upstairs, so I showed her those too, said Lorna. She chose the £198 one downstairs!'