First look inside No Guts No Glory as new owner buys cult shop

The independent lifestyle store No Guts No Glory has become a bit of a cult favourite over the last decade.

But now, the Exeter store is welcoming in a new era – and a new owner.

NGNG, as it is known, was previously owned by partners Hayley and Nathan Maker. They have now handed the keys over to Alex Chandler-Zhu, to focus on their nearby plant-based café, Sacred Grounds.

Alex relaunched the shop yesterday – Saturday, August 1 – and said he was looking forward to welcoming his first customers.

Alex recently graduated from the University of Exeter with a business degree, specialising in sustainability, and felt that his values aligned well with NGNG’s reputation for encouraging sustainable lifestyles.

He said: “That’s why the store really, really appealed to me. When I saw it for sale, I went into it with support from my family. I’m really excited – it’s given me a chance to be creative.”

Alex is hoping to see customers old and new and wanted to reassure fans of the store that they can expect to find some of the same items for sale as before, such as house plants, artwork and jewellery.

No Guts No Glory can be found on Exeter’s Fore Street (Image: Alex Chandler-Zhu)

He said he has worked closely with Hayley and Nathan, to ensure a certain level of “continuity” to the business, but that he will also be introducing new products to the store.

Alex said: “One of the things I’m really excited about, is bringing records into the store – music is really important to me.

The store will also offer artwork by Norway-based artist Jon O’Neill, Alex said: “We’re the only bricks and mortar store you’ll be able to purchase his prints from.”

More stories by Charlotte Vowles

NGNG will still be selling their much-loved t-shirts, including hand printed designs made by Alex’s artist friend. He said: “The t-shirts I’m really excited about.”

Alex described himself as “a house plant aficionado” and said he’s particularly fond of a huge alocasia plant that’s in store, “when I first saw it, I was absolutely gobsmacked.”

Alex said he is “a bit of a houseplant aficionado” (Image: Alex Chandler-Zhu)

He said the launch is a chance to meet regular customers as well as new ones.

Alex said: “I’m really aware NGNG has been here for over a decade and been really impactful.

“I just want it to be a good opportunity to have a conversation with customers about the direction the business is going in and be really transparent about it.”

Exeter has a wealth of independent shops, including ethical shops such as Sanchos and Zero – both are neighbours to NGNG’s Fore Street premises.

Alex is hoping that, especially in the current economical climate, customers will consider spending their hard-earned cash in independent stores.

He said: “When you support independent suppliers you really are supporting individuals. I think there’s something more transparent about where your money goes – especially in fashion, you don’t know what the [working] conditions are like.

“I think it’s really important people put their money where there can be an immediate impact.”

Some of the shop’s greetings cards (Image: Martha Simons)

NGNG will open every day from 10-5.30, apart from Sundays, and Alex said he’s given a lot of thought to keeping customers safe during the pandemic.

He said face masks will need to be worn in store and that only four customers will be allowed in at any one time. Hand sanitiser will be provided and Alex has placed a Perspex guard at the till to help offer customers further reassurance.

Alex said: “I have absolutely no worries about people getting too close.”

Former owner Hayley Maker, said she’s glad to see NGNG continue.

She said: “The handover has been a really positive experience for us, it’s been a fantastic ten years of NGNG and it’s great to see the brand continue and evolve. Alex has some brilliant ideas and we are excited to see what he does with the NGNG in the future.”

Hayley Maker and family (Image: Sacred Grounds)

“Alex has added some really great new things to NGNG’s current range, with creativity and sustainability firmly in mind, as well as bringing back the classic NGNG t-shirt, we wish him the very best of luck, stepping into this role.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic has actually allowed us some time to handover the business properly to Alex, and I feel like it’s the perfect time to re-launch and build on the history of NGNG – of course we still hope to be collaborating and holding events together in our café Sacred Grounds.”

Sacred Grounds in Exeter (Image: Sacred Grounds)

Sacred Grounds has re-opened after lockdown and Hayley said the team’s aim is to “create a stand out restaurant for the city”, as well as focusing more on events and workshops.

Hayley added: “We’re excited for what the future holds. We’ve both witnessed the transformation of Exeter’s independent scene and like to think we’ve been a part of that change, in our opinion it’s getting better all the time thanks to the support of the wider community, Exeter has such a unique and special offering and is a supportive and nurturing community.”

Sacred Grounds offers plant-based dining (Image: Sacred Grounds)

No Guts No Glory can be found at 125 Fore Street, Exeter, 10am-5pm Monday-Saturday.

Sacred Grounds can be found in the McCoys Arcade, Fore St and opens Wednesday – Saturday 9am – 4pm and Sundays 10am – 4pm.

Devon Live