Four years ago, on a sunny autumn afternoon, my boyfriend (now husband) went online and found an antique center in Farnham which he thought he might take his weary and stressed, teacher girlfriend (me) for a lazy Sunday visit. At the time, we needed a garden studio and we found one at Bourne buildings, the business directly adjacent to the Bourne Mill Antique Centre. Our purchase was followed by a tea at this quirky antique centre.
Little did we know that four years later, we would have our very own little attic room in this thousand year old building complete with dusty hidden treasures, attic cobwebs and a proper ghost! A week ago we moved in.
As we only had three weeks notice, we had very little time to prepare for our move. We had put our name down for a space nearly two years ago, and quite frankly after moving in at the Packhouse a year ago, and opening our shop, we had completely forgotten about it. That is, until a few weekends ago, when we had a call to say we were at the top of a list of twenty four people awaiting a space at the Bourne Mill. In a well established antique centre, which has run for over 50 years, spaces like this do not come along often so, in spite of the fact that we had barely opened our shop eight weeks ago, we made the decision that we would go for it!
We began by painting up this beautiful antique pine dresser. As our space is in the rafters, it was quite a challenge getting up the narrow steps and through and windy corridors but we persevered and were quite happy with the effect. We dressed it with a beautiful Crinoline Lady, 1940s tea set which my friend, Collette had found at a recent fair for us and with my latest cake stand creations.
We made use of bunting to soften the eaves and to warn shoppers so they don't bump their heads.
A lovely sky light breaths life and light into our nook and makes our space feel quite airy.
So, we have established our 'Bourne Identity'...onwards to the Bourne Supremacy!
Meanwhile, back in Wimbledon...
N&S NEWS OF THE WEEK
A gorgeous Royal Doulton set is put up for sale
Our stunning swallow tea set flies off to Paris.....
and shopping fit for an a-lister
Part of the N&S service is that we offer a sourcing service. This is often a challenge but can also be rewarding when clients ask us for the impossible, we go hunting, we find it,we deliver it and everyone is happy. However, there are those who think it quite acceptable to ask for something then change their minds, even though they were adamant that they must have it. We have therefore had to introduce a deposit system which we are hoping will dissuade time wasters and also protect us and our very precious cash flow. This week for example, we bought in a very large tea set for a client who insisted she have it before half term (next week) On Wednesday, she surprisingly popped her head around the door to say; "Don't worry about the tea set, my husband will kill me if I bring home any more china." I tried explaining to her that it wasn't really fair but she shrugged it off as a minor inconvenience for us and said she was sure we would find another buyer and that " I tell you what, I will pop in next month and if any of it is left I might buy some." Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened and it is at this juncture that my my old school shop keeping mantra usually kicks in - ' THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT ' but is there an argument that this out-moded, one sided relationship between shopper and shop keeper has run its course. It has become increasingly clear to me why shop keepers can be grumpy, unhelpful and often mistrusting of their clients but I refuse to become one of these. So after a brief sulk and a moan , I put the beautiful tea set in question out and am hopeful that any day now it will sell...oh and introduced the deposit scheme.
Our most exciting news of the week was the sale of no less than seven of our loveliest tea sets to the fabulous A-lister whom I really cannot name but who is possibly the most influential fashion designer of our time! All sets were beautifully packaged in our new tea set hatboxes and couriered to Paris overnight. You might remember the swallow tea set I spoke of last week, well it was one of the seven and has migrated to Paris. It still seems incredibly lucky that anything like this should or could happen to us but it has and in eight weeks we have become suppliers of fine china to no less than two of the world's top designers.....Ai chi chi!
and now, on to the drum wars. Steve spent the better part of a morning building flat pack boxes for our tea sets. Last week he tortured me with a small drum. On returning to the shop this is what I discovered...a rather larger version.
It is amusing living with a 'comedian' and there is never a dull moment but this really tickled me.
Little did we know that just a day later most of them would be winging their way to Paris.
As we enjoy a little bit of an Indian summer, I am reminded of the day, exactly five years ago that I first moved to this little part of London, and how much I have come to love my village. Although many changes are coming to this area, and the buzz of how West Wimbledon is on the 'up' is making news, I hope it never loses the simple charm and the spirit of independence it has become known for.