Strabane crowned 'Gnome Capital of Northern Ireland'!
Thursday, 16 March 2017
ONLY one month after being unveiled as the most romantic town in Northern Ireland, Strabane has once again topped the charts - this time for its 'gnome-appeal'.
Over the last 12 months, Strabane has snapped up more garden gnomes than any other town in Northern Ireland. The sales spike comes after 10 years of decline as NI's gnome population is estimated to have more than halved between 2005 and 2015.
Thanks to evidence from Strabane and other towns, retail experts are predicting a garden gnome comeback in 2017 after a redesign to further enhance their appeal.
Unlike the gnomes of years gone by, which were typically around 10-inches in height, the new trend is for giant sized versions, which stand at one metre tall.
Supermarket chain, Asda, which last year launched its own range of giant garden gnomes, saw a 400% increase in sales, defying all expectations.
The giant sized versions are more difficult to pinch - a major problem during the 1980s and 1990s, when the gnome theft epidemic even reached Coronation Street.
The 2017 re-incarnation offers more diversity and equality, with female gnome characters, gnomes of different generations, LGBT rainbow gnomes and bride and groom gnomes.
The supermarket is expecting to sell more than 800,000 gnomes across its UK stores this year - more than double the population of Iceland. Sales are anticipated to spike between mid- March and the end of June, as people repopulate their gardens and apartment balconies with the iconic outdoor ornament.
Peter Beckett, store manager of Asda Strabane said: "Despite dividing opinion for decades, our new breed of garden gnomes sold fantastically well in Strabane and throughout the North West in 2016.
"We think it's a nostalgia thing, combined with the fact the newer bigger incarnations look more friendly and relatable to modern life - and dare I say it, less tacky, too."
"Customers with gardens big and small tell us that they love the bigger versions as they make a statement amongst plants and brighten a grey balcony - they have strong Instagrammble potential, too.
"Parents also say that the more child-friendly redesign is also helping kids to embrace gardens and outdoor spaces, providing a welcome break from the games console."
Gnomes were first introduced to the British Isles in 1847 by Sir Charles Edmund Isham, a renowned gardener and our love affair reached peak popularity in the 1970s after manufacturers introduced ranges of novelty gnomes in a plethora of costumes.
The new Giant Garden Gnome range by Asda is now on sale in store and online at: www.asda.com.
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