How a former quail farmer turned several dilapidated pig sheds in Henstead into a thriving business
- Credit: Archant
He has tried everything from farming quail to raising a herd of more than 100 wild boars.
But Richard Baxter's vision to transform several dilapidated pig sheds into a craft centre has been his most successful venture yet.
And over the weekend, the 49-year-old - along with his wife Amanda - celebrated the 10th anniversary of their Suffolk-based business.
The Henstead Arts and Crafts Centre, on Toad Row, near Kessingland, is today home to around 15 thriving independent businesses, including art galleries, a real ale bottle shop, cafes and even a gym.
Mr Baxter said the units started their life as pig sheds, which had fallen into disrepair around 15 years ago.
But after noticing a gap in the market for a craft centre in the area, he decided to invest £100,000 to transform the site.
'It was a bit of a gamble,' the father-of-two said. 'And my wife was worried at the time because I've tried lots of businesses in the past and a few have failed.'
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Mr Baxter said he was supported by a £40,000 grant from DEFRA to set up the craft centre in 2007.
The entrepreneur had previously tried his hand at everything from quail farming to attempting to sell wild boars in Lowestoft.
And he said it was through these previous ventures that he learned the intricacies of running a business.
Despite working for free during the first year of running the centre, Mr Baxter said the units had been full ever since.
'I think part of our success is due to the businesses not having to be tied down,' he said. 'Our rents are reasonable and you only have to pay every month so you can leave if things are not working out.
'The other reason is because it is like a little community here and everyone helps each other.'
Mr Baxter said some businesses had been at the centre for as long as seven years, with others lasting a few months.
Peter Morris, owner of Mr Bufo's Furniture and Curios, has rented a unit since September.
He said: 'The location is really nice, and the other unit holders are very friendly. It is like a little community.
'And if things aren't working you could go after a month.'
Around 1,000 people visited the centre over the weekend to celebrate its 10th anniversary.