Vintage trader of the month: Peapod

Every month we put the spotlight on a different vintage trader, showcasing their business and asking them about their passion for vintage and why they love what they do. This month we interview Claire Milne, who founded Peapod in Rosemount, Aberdeen.

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Why did you go into the vintage trade? What made you want to start your own business?

Five years ago I decided to change track and start my own business, with help from the Retail Rocks project. You should know Nina, you were there! (Nina’s Apartment also took part in this local business startup project- this I where I met Claire first! ed). My dad is a retired joiner and my mum is a fanatical recycler so furniture recycling and upcycling is in my DNA. The shop was initially in Torry for the first year, and we discovered I was pregnant with my second child soon after we submitted the Retail Rocks application but thought we’d give it a shot anyway. That’s where the name came from, Arthur was the pea in the pod! After a year we moved to Rosemount and we went in a more vintage direction as it seemed a logical step as I had less time for painting furniture, and my passion for quality items that were beautiful just as they are was growing.

What inspires you?

For us it’s more of a who than a what. Through working in the shop we meet some amazing people. Who knew Aberdeen was full of such wonderful creative people? Where were they all hiding before? We are also inspired by the other lovely vintage businesses we meet, we’re lucky their enthusiasm and knowledge rubs off on us too.

What has been the biggest challenge running a vintage shop?

Time. Never enough of it. Sourcing new stock, having a stall at fairs, changing the window display, social media all take time. Self-employed people don’t tend to take days off, but if you love what you do you never complain.

What is Peapod’s strength? How have you tweaked and improved over the years?

Moving with the times and our ability to stay on-trend. Most new trends have their base in something that has gone before, so we try to source the original goods while still putting our own twist on it.

Who does your window displays? They are fabulous!

We both do (Claire and her business partner June. ed.) It can take a whole day to do a window display in our wee shop. That’s what we do with our “day off” so it doesn’t disrupt customers and their browsing and purchasing. Great fun, we love a new window! It’s great fun and we’ve already started on our (dare we say it?) Christmas window!

What is the weirdest thing you ever had in the shop? 

When you do this line of work the weird and wonderful appear on a daily basis so it’s hard to pick just one item, you just get used to it.

And tell us about something so beautiful that you regret you sold it.

Ah, this is an easy one. An Abel Morrall’s thimble box with glass panels that I didn’t get to enjoy long enough before it was snapped up by someone with a very good eye. Also a black gloss bar that opened up to reveal a mirror with cocktail glasses design on it and a light inside. Knowing these items went to very good homes makes it (slightly) easier to let them go, and the people who bought them loved them as much as we did.

Why should people buy vintage?

We’re great believers in buying what you like. All current trends have a base in a vintage past and the older items are made to a higher standard. It’s one of the greenest ways to shop and saves amazing historic items ending up being thrown out and wasted. Buying vintage can also introduce a unique twist to a home that also features high street styles.



What’s your plans and ambitions for Peapod in the future?

Developing a larger online presence with our Etsy shop, keeping up to date with social media and working on growing the Peapod Pinterest page.

Peapod can be found on:

144 Rosemount Place, Aberdeen

Open Tuesday – Saturday 10am-6pm

Facebook

Etsy

Pinterest

 

Shop vintage in Aberdeen: Old Togs New Tricks Vintage Fayre

The season of vintage fairs is starting to kick off again now the school holidays are finished and I am super pleased to be taking part in my first fair since a big fire ruined the Nina’s Apartment shop back in April this year. On Sunday 4th of September you can find me selling my quirky collection of wares at the Old Togs New Tricks Vintage Fayre in Aberdeen, in industrial cool club Underdog down in the basement of the Brewdog Castlegate pub on Union Street. It is held on Sunday the 4th of September, 12noon to 5pm. Admission free.

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I am proud to be sitting amongst some of the best vintage traders in the area, all of whom dedicate their time sourcing high quality authentic vintage, which is not that easy nowadays. Coming to a fair like this will therefore be a great opportunity to pick up that original retro lamp shade, sixties coffee set, crazy psychedelic seventies dress or just something beautiful that has no other function than to sit on a shelf and gather dust. There will be furniture, home decor, records, clothing, jewellery, ceramics and collectables. Plenty to rummage through and fill your house with, that’s for sure. And if you like your beers better than your handbags, then you can always join in with the beer tasting.

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The first Old Togs New Tricks Fayre held in May 2016 – photo: Underdog

Here’s the impressive line-up of traders:

V1 Vinyl
Nina’s Apartment
Peapod
Quinneys Antique Jewelery
Very Vintage
Curtis & Clementine
Kelly & her collection
Milly & Lucy
Grab Ur Coat UK
Re-Store
The Closet – Vintage
Louis Little Haven
Beard Oils ….

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Photo: Underdog

I have been told there will also be music, food and drinks – a welcome change from the usual pink cupcakes and tea in floral teacups served at many a vintage fair. There! I said it! Please don’t shoot me! I am looking forward to it anyway, I hope you do too.

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Photo: Underdog


Old Togs New Tricks – Vintage Fayre

Sunday 4th of September 12noon-5pm
Underdog, Brewdog Castlegate – Union Street Aberdeen
Entry free

Vintage trader of the month: Louis Little Haven

Every month we let you discover a different vintage trader in the North east of Scotland. This month we are putting the spotlight on yet another vintage shop that not everyone might have heard of: Louis Little Haven in the small village of Durno, a few miles outside Inverurie. When I think of the true meaning of ‘vintage’, I feel this shop embodies it perfectly with its pretty romantic florals, pastel colours, dainty tea sets, quirky collectables and solid old wooden furniture. This gem, tucked away in rural Aberdeenshire, is owned by Melanie Wilson who not only has an obsession with old china but is also a great lover of dogs. It was opened in 2013 and named after her beloved labrador Louis, who sadly passed away last year. Her new buddy bassett hound Briony has since joined her on her treasure hunts and can usually be found sleeping in the corner of the shop.


How did you end up having this shop, Mel? Where does the treasure hunting bug come from?

I’ve collected since the age of ten, starting off with handbags and hats and moving on to teacups where I became obsessed! My mum would often take us around Thainstone (carboot sale ed.) on a Sunday and in addition to that I come from a family who can’t throw anything out as “it could be useful”. Growing up across from my grandparents’ farm also had an influence. I loved having a “nosey” to see what treasures could be found. I still can’t help myself when I see a shed!

What makes your business special in the area?

I am breathing new life into the old village shop in Durno (we have found some great black and white photos of what it used to look like), so I feel I am bringing something to the local community here. Everyone is always welcome to pop in for a look around or just a chat.


What is the weirdest and most beautiful item you have ever had in your shop?

I have had a few strange itemd in stock as I like picking up unusual things but at the moment it is definitely a Victorian Scottish pottery spittoon in the shape of a shell. I have had lots of beautiful things as well and those are really hard to part with! I’d say two of the items that stick to mind are a gorgeous blue 1940s Paragon tea set and a stunning 19th century 8ft kitchen larder cupboard.

What is the best thing about doing this job?

I don’t consider it a job, rather a passion I have had for as long as I can remember and I feel lucky to do what I do. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories and finding out the history behind the items I’m buying. I’d like to think I am a curator of beautiful things who finds them their new home, their next chapter in life.

What is the hardest part in running a vintage shop?

Finding good quality, beautiful pieces and trying to keep them at a reasonable price.

Why should people buy vintage, in your opinion?

There is a charm to vintage items, they don’t make things anymore like they used to. Buying vintage also means buying a little piece of history. I always think that if the tea cups I sell could talk about all the stories and gossip they have heard, wouldn’t that be wonderful!

Louis Little Haven, Mel and Briony the dog can be found here:

Durno, north of Inverurie (off the A96).

Open: Friday 10.30am-3pm, Saturday 10.30am-4pm, Monday 10.30am-3pm

Online:

Facebook

Etsy

And at some vintage fairs in the area.

Vintage trader of the month: Curtiss and Clementine

Every month we are putting the spotlight on one of the many vintage businesses around the North East of Scotland, often hidden away in corners or back alleys. This month we are showcasing a vintage trader up in the north of Aberdeenshire: Curtiss and Clementine, located inside the little treasure trove shop called HQ in the harbour of Banff. This business is owned by Rachel Kennedy, who specialises in vintage finds and collectables from sometimes as old as the 19th century. Being a historian, Rachel certainly knows her stuff and she is a star at finding unusual items with a past. If you are looking for quirky and wonderful vintage, visit Banff and make a day of it!

Rachel, where does the name Curtiss and Clementine come from?

The idea for my business grew out of a passion for history, so when it came to thinking of a name it felt right to look at my own family history and my mixed English and Scots parentage. I spent a lot of time with my paternal Scots grandmother as a child, whose maiden name was Clementine McGregor, before moving here from London ten years ago. Lawrence Curtiss was my maternal English grandfather. Sadly, I never knew him and since the Curtiss surname hasn’t carried on into the next generation, I thought it would be nice to use it as a way of remembering his side of the family.

How long have you been running the shop?

The shop where I am based is called HQ, we opened last July so we are coming up to a year. I share the space with another local business called Threadbear, who are based in Banff and make hand-made gifts and home furnishings.


What made you want to start selling vintage?

Being involved in vintage and antiques and having my own business has given me the chance to follow a dream. I’ve been a fan of vintage since the late 1980s during my art student days when I used to love visiting all the second-hand shops in Brighton, but I started collecting as a child (glass animals, then clay pipes after a bit of random digging in our front garden in London!) and ended up working in museums as a curator, so I’m probably programmed to seek out vintage objects, especially if they have a good design or are a bit unusual. I also love 20th century studio ceramics and glass and pretty much anything eighteenth century, which was my area of expertise, so selling enables me to indulge in all my interests and passions!

What makes your business special in the area? 

When I first started my business a few years ago initially from home, there were only a couple of vintage businesses that I was aware of and no vintage shops or fairs at all in or around Banff. Things have changed since then, which is great, but it has been exciting to be part of starting something new. Together with the vintage fairs that I run as well, I feel I am offering a unique shopping experience for the local community here in Banff and Macduff as well as visitors to the area. I also try and source items that have a local connection (like the vintage milk bottles from local dairies I have in HQ at the moment) which has been a nice way to offer more personal items to local customers.


What is the weirdest item you have ever had in your shop? 

Oh, that’s easy! I have in stock at the moment a miniature china figurine called a Frozen Charlotte or Charlie. It’s teensy. Made from glazed bisque porcelain with hand-painted black hair. These dolls were made in Germany from the mid 1800s to 1920s, originally as bath dolls I think, but became popular in the States after a poem called Young Charlotte, about a young woman who froze to death whilst driving in an open carriage with her beau on New Year’s Eve. These tiny dolls are now very collectable although many find them creepy – you can sometimes find them in mini metal coffins which is quite macabre.

What has been the most beautiful item you have ever had in the shop? 

I was lucky enough to find in France last year an absolutely beautiful lidded pot by Arabia Finland, in mint condition. It was hand-painted in a gorgeously rich, dark cobalt blue design onto a translucent fine white China. The design was very simple and was signed ET, for one of their most respected designers Esteri Tomula, who worked at the factory between 1947-84. From my research, it appeared to be a studio production from the 1950s which was unusual and so quite rare too. The combination of beauty, design, rarity and condition just made it a very striking thing and a lovely pot. The icing on the cake was that it was bought by an artist who really loved it.


What do you like about your job? 

Can I say everything? (Laughing) I love being independent, my own boss. I love hunting out the stock, researching it, displaying it and meeting customers. I really do learn something new every day and that keeps it all interesting and stimulating. It also gives me a chance to talk about the history of an item and to share what I have learned with customers which is very rewarding. It’s such a privilege too, to handle items that are 50, 100, sometimes even 150 years old, especially if I get to meet the current owners who know the history of these items. Hey, I’m even getting a bit fitter from all the heavy lifting of boxes that I do with my fairs..

What is the biggest challenge?

In today’s current economic climate, I would say being a sole trader in anything is really tough. You have got to work hard to keep motivated and be sensitive to market trends as well as stay true to your own ideas. Selling is probably the biggest challenge and I think most vintage businesses and antiques dealers feel that. I also think that although the idea of vintage is really growing in Scotland, the idea of buying second hand doesn’t appeal to many and it’s a challenge to try and change that.


Why should people buy vintage?
Actually, I wouldn’t say people should as its a personal taste but, I do believe that in today’s world of limited resources, it’s a much greener way to shop. I also think that buying vintage ensures a variety in your wardrobe or home and that has to be a good thing in my book. Buying vintage can also stimulate discussion between the generations which I love (eg where on earth did you find that? Or, I used to have one of those when I was young) and allows for self-expression too, which can be hugely creative.

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You can buy Vintage from Curtiss and  Clementine here:

Shop – HQ, 8b Quayside, Banff AB45 1HQ. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30-4pm

Vintage fairs:

Rachel organises several fairs a year at Banff Castle:

  • Saturday 9 July, 10am-4pm
  • Saturday 10 September, 10am – 4pm.

Rachel is also a regular exhibitor at the Aberdeen Antiques & Collectors Market, which takes place every month at the Hilton Tree Tops Hotel, Aberdeen.

Online:

Facebook

Etsy

Vintage trader of the month: The Closet

The North east of Scotland really is full of gems when it comes to vintage shops and traders selling their finds online or at local fairs. They are all spread widely, hidden in quiet corners and back alleys and often still unknown to many in the area. I felt it was time to shine a light on the people who dedicate their time to the trade and travel far and wide to find the best vintage treasures. This month we meet Elane Colville-Arthur from The Closet, vintage clothing store in Aberdeen.

The Closet, based in Aberdeen city centre, was established in 1980 (1980! That makes it vintage in itself!) and was originally located in the now gone Woolmanhill Court. Nowadays it is tucked away in a little alleyway called Jopps Lane, parallel to George Street. The boutique, dedicated to fashion, is an absolute treasure trove of gorgeous vintage clothing and accessories, with the odd groovy retro lamp or coffee set thrown in with the eclectic mix. Elane owns the business since the summer of 2005. I asked her about what makes her so passionate about vintage.

Elane, please tell us how it all started for you at The Closet

I’m one in a long line of “custodians” who have looked after the shop – or this is how I like to view my position. When I purchased the store – after dropping in one lunchtime on hearing a rumour she was for sale – she was already in her current location. One month later I was handed the keys and opened. No stock take, no till even and a mountain of old clothing to work through. Weirdly enough I had worked in a vintage clothing store in Melbourne, Australia years before whilst traveling and the store was called Out of The Closet! It seemed like fate. When I contacted the owners of the store in Melbourne they said “you can’t see green cheese”… Typical Ozzy reply! Since then I have given the shop a brand and established her place on social media. My hope for the shop in the future is that another young woman or guy will come along and carry on her journey.

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Why are you so passionate about vintage?

I’m passionate about everything in my life – this is how I’m made – 100%, full speed ahead, life is too short not to enjoy yourself, cup half full kinda’ girl, so I’m the same about my beloved vintage. I’ve had a love affair with vintage all my life. I think it comes from being part of a large family and having to deal with hand me downs, but I also have a strong yearning to make my own way, not follow the herds and to stand out and be different. No one can accuse The Closet stock of being boring or run-of-the-mill! I love to search out and find those one-off pieces. If it’s boring, I don’t accept it. Sometimes this attitude can work against me being in a town in the North East of Scotland as I think my eccentric, colourful stock is probably more suited to a larger city where people are keener to stand out. But, then again, we do have our fair share of customers who love our collections and keep coming back.

I love finding one-off beauties and rare pieces. To then find them their forever homes is the icing on the cake! It is great when a fellow enthusiast come in and finds her perfect piece. I like pieces from so many eras but have a special place in my heart for all things Art Deco and the 1970’s. Two entirely different eras but I love them both. You also can’t beat the quality of the garments and the craftsmanship of the designers and manufacturers of the past. I have often had scouts in from design houses in London looking for pieces to inspire new lines and they have informed me that they often are able to re-learn ways of constructing pieces due to vintage finds. A wonderful cycle of fashion.

What makes The Closet stand out from other vintage shops in the area?

The Closet is special and unique in Aberdeen as she is the oldest surviving vintage shop in the area. We have been joined in the last few years by many other stores and many more traders but The Closet has the heritage and pedigree plus kudos of a long history. Can you believe she was originally called a “period shop”? She is special as we do not only sell vintage fashion (accessories etc) but we also hire out original clothing items from the past for vintage themed events. It has been more than once that we received the “best dressed” award at a party. It is so much fun to be part of this.

What is the weirdest and most beautiful thing you ever sold?

Ha! This is a tough question as I’ve had many strange items in over the years including a monkey hide coat (which we turned away!) and crocodile skin bags with their feet still attached. The most beautiful thing …. also hard! I’m a Libra and very visual. I can see beauty in fabrics, cuts, colours and prints but also in the arm of a chair or leg of a table. I recently re-homed a French lace wedding dress to a beautiful young bride. That was truly special.

What do you like about your job?

What’s not to like? I love being my own boss. I love the varied and interesting people I meet. I love all the wonderful vintage traders I’ve met over the years and how so many of them are now friends who have helped and supported me through many turbulent times. I love finding stock. I love the thrill of the chase. Treasure hunting and equally finding the perfect home for the pieces. I love the stories behind the scenes too! I once had a gents 3-piece suit, painstakingly stitched together by a young bride-to-be’s father (after he came home from his hard days work) to allow him to give his daughter away in style! That suit was named “Made with Love” and was re-homed quickly!

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What is the biggest challenge in running your vintage business?

The biggest challenge is translating my passion for what I do into paying for the ‘real-world’ things like rent and bills. This is the grown-up part to the business and for a creative person this is not so easy. I persist though and thus far I have managed to carry on.

Why should people buy vintage?

People should buy what they love – if that happens to be vintage, all the better! Buying vintage clothing means they are buying, undoubtedly, good quality original and often classic pieces. They are helping the planet by recycling and reloving items. They are buying quirky and individual pieces. They are using their creativity to put items together, to go their own way and not follow the high street “trends”. They are being themselves.

Visit The Closet:

32 Jopps lane, Aberdeen
tel 01224 625450
www.theclosetvintage.co.uk

Opening times
During school term times – Sun & Mon closed / Tues & Wed 9.30am-2.30pm / Thurs 9.30am-4pm / Fri & Sat 9.30am-5pm
In school holidays: Sun & Mon closed / Tues – Sat 9.30-5pm

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