ISSUE 1 | 7 MARCH 2013
www.vintagebusiness.co.uk | @vintagebusiness
Judy Berger: even after 400 fairs I never take success for granted
How charity shops have realised the potential of vintage
Nostalgic rallies still pull in stallholders and customers The weekly voice for UK traders and organisers
Features Interview with Judy Berger 12 Spotlight on speakeasies 14 Yes or no for kilo markets? 15 Financing a start-up 16 Vehicle rallies in motion 18 The problem with pop-ups 19 Defining vintage 20 Trading in London 22 Diversifying to prosper 23 People in the News 24
News Editor Daniel Kemp firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor Ed Doyle email@example.com Chief Sub-editor Jordan Chamberlain firstname.lastname@example.org Production Editor Kat Bannon email@example.com
Vintage Business is published by PMA Group. It was created by postgraduates from the winter 2013 Magazine Journalism Diploma course. PMA Group, Press Association, 292 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 1AE 020 7963 7920 Copyright: PMA Group
Stallholders can now move away from the traditional booking system Daniel Kemp
Fair organisers will be able to take stall bookings over the internet from this month. Stallholder.net is testing a site extension to allow stallholders to reserve tables at vintage fairs. Vintage businesses must go online to register their store profile and make a booking. This allows fair organisers to immediately see the shop and the kind of items it sells, meaning confirmations are quick even when a stallholder is unknown to a fair operator.
“The site allows stallholders to pick where they want to go and apply for multiple fairs at once,” says site owner Elly Gray. “After they pick, we send out their application forms for them, which the fair organisers can then approve.” Fees haven’t been determined yet but are likely to be a percentage of the stall booking price. Charges include promotion for fairs and individual stalls through social media and other paid forms of advertising including Google Ads.
Cotswold Tourism is launching the UK’s first campaign encouraging tourists to visit vintage businesses. Vintage & Modern, starting next month, aims to capitalise on public interest and connect tourism and vintage industries in the area. “It seems that vintage has become closely connected with all the good feelings and nostalgia about Britain,created by the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee last year. We want to show people that you can still pick up a bargain in the Cotswolds,” says Cotswold Tourism manager Chris Dee. Visitors will be able to select from four pre-made route guides and travel around villages, visiting businesses ranging from vintage tearooms to clothing shops. Customers who want the ‘full’ experience can hire classic cars.
Try before you buy is taking Business the shine off selling online rates need a deep freeze
Jennings concerned for vintage online Ed Doyle
Vintage retailers may want to think twice before fully stepping into the online marketplace. According to a report by vouchercodes.co.uk, almost half of shoppers prefer to sample their goods first. The Future of Online Retail surveyed over 2,000 adults and found that 40 per cent said they needed to feel the physical item before making a purchase.
Head of marketing for vouchercodes.co.uk, Max Jennings, says: “With vintage a lot of people are expected to trawl the shop and look for that certain piece. Whereas with high street retailers, there’s more of a mass market.” Vintage sellers may also want to consider focusing more on their female customers. The survey found that women are more likely than men to purchase clothes online, with 27 per cent of men admitting to never buying clothes from the internet as opposed to 19 per cent of women. Men are also less inclined to take advantage of loyalty schemes, deals and discounts. Additionally, only a quarter of online shoppers buy a product based on the information given by its website, with 72 per cent preferring to act upon a recommendation by an existing customer.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the government to scrap a 2.6 per cent increase in business rates. Current proposals will see rates for retail units increase by £175m in April. BRC head of media campaigns Richard Dodd says: “The government needs to recognise it is a difficult time for retailers and that they are important.They have paid more than their fair share in tax already.” If the proposals do go ahead it will be the third increase retailers have seen in recent years. Rates have already increased by £0.5bn and retailers pay proportionally more for business rates than other businesses. This has lead to a large number of businesses closing down their retail premises.
The store is branching out in an effort to increase its customer base Daniel Kemp
One of the country’s oldest vintage clothing stores has joined forces with Scotland’s largest independent record shop. Armstrong’s, Britain’s largest vin-
tage clothing emporium, is providing a range of clothes for exclusive sale in Avalanche Records. The music store is extending its clothing range to generate new
Seaside store shuts doors due to charity shop competition Becky Roberts
A seaside town vintage shop is being forced to close down due to overriding competition from local charity shops. The Summerhouse shop owner Lorna Summers in Herne Bay, Kent cannot compete with the 18 nearby charity shops’ prices. “I just can’t sell a skirt for £3.50 like they do,” she says. It doesn’t seem to matter that some charity shops don’t sell much vintage. “People aren’t very trendy here and they don’t have much
money. If it looks like vintage, it will sell,” adds Summers. Charity shops selling vintage are affecting independent traders like Summers. Pilgrims Hospices store manager Jenny Mastin says: “I try to be competitive and undercut independent businesses, but we sell items at realistic prices.” A closure date for The Summerhouse has not yet been decided. “I want to get rid of all my winter fur coats first,” says Summers. Analysis, p11
Happier days for Lorna Summers
Website gains open trading Recycle clothes space from art organisation to save planet Alexandra Vintage
Reporters Sophie Gore Browne firstname.lastname@example.org James Higgins email@example.com Tom Kenning firstname.lastname@example.org Becky Roberts email@example.com
Tourism drive through vintage
Sub-editor Francesca Rice firstname.lastname@example.org
Cotswold fairs are being promoted
streams of revenue after a difficult trading period. Avalanche takes a commission on every item sold. Avalanche owner Kevin Buckle says: “Armstrong’s has a huge selection so it can be difficult to find what you want. Here, we display a selection of high-quality items that appeal directly to our customers.” The decision comes after a trial menswear range that received positive customer feedback last year. Avalanche closed on 6 January this year so that Buckle could carry out an extensive refit. The store was struggling due to the drop in physical music sales. Buckle has called for independent record shops to work with the industry in order to protect the in-store music market. Lorna Summeres
Editor Matt Scott email@example.com
Armstrong’s record deal Kevin Buckle
Analysis National Vintage Awards Business directories Charity shop vintage
Judy’s Affordable Vintage
Comment Business or hobby? Cleaning for profit Motivating your staff Tackling market changes
Stallholder.net tests bookings
CO N T E N T S
Online expansion of a different kind Becky Roberts
Online store Alexandra Vintage has gained selling space thanks to a charity organisation.
Its stock is now for sale in a popup studio in Reading, provided by creative arts charity Jelly. Company director Alexandra Dewis pays a donation to the charity in return for a cheap and practical way to showcase her vintage. “Although we are mainly an online business, it’s very important for us to get involved in local activity and Jelly lets us do just that. The space is invaluable,” she says. Jelly supports businesses and organisations with studios and facilities, which can be used for multiple purposes from selling goods to exhibiting artwork.
Vintage clothing businesses could form a crucial part of an environmentally friendly economic model, according to a report. Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) devised five business models for the retail industry that involve recycling clothes. All of them, including upcycling, clothes hiring and developing a peer-topeer exchange network, exist in the vintage industry already. WRAP spokeswoman Clare Usher says: “The vintage clothing market, which resells pre-owned clothes, could play a vital role in delivering the circular economy.”
News 3 IN BRIEF INDUSTRY AWARDS LAUNCH THIS YEAR The first National Vintage Awards will be held this year. Businesses have until the end of March to enter before the public vote opens in May. Those with the most votes will be shortlisted and assessed by a panel of judges, with the winners announced at a ceremony 27 June in Birmingham. Analysis, p10 RETAILERS INCLUDED IN NEW DIRECTORY Three major vintage consumer magazines are launching vintage business directories for the first time this year. Pretty Nostalgic,Vintage Explorer and Vintage Life are introducing them to provide an extra marketing opportunity for vintage businesses. Each scheme varies in price and listing details. Analysis, p10 POP STAR EXPANDS INTO ONLINE MARKET Lily Allen’s Soho vintage store is launching an online shop. The singer, now known as Lily Cooper, founded Lucy In Disguise with her sister. It will make in-store items available for purchase online by the end of March and will be promoted via Facebook and Twitter. Lucy in Disguise specialises in clothing from the 1920s to 90s, along with an in-house hair and make-up salon. HOSPICE-RUN EVENT TO SELL DONATIONS Two years’ worth of vintage clothing donations will be on sale this summer at Cancer Research UK’s first vintage event. Its Whitstable and Canterbury branches have collected for the one-off occasion on Herne Bay Pier, Kent. “Hospices have run vintage fashion shows before, but haven’t really done an event,” says Herne Bay manager Teresa Cannaby. RETURNING POP-UP WITH CAUSE CHOICES Charity pop-up Rio Grande is returning to Bristol on the first weekend of every month. Customers can split the price of their purchases between causes, including Macmillan Cancer Support, One25 and PositiveCauses.
East Dulwich vintage shop Ed Warehouse is opening an online store in six months. The website, edwarehouse.co.uk, will feature clothing, furniture and other items from over 50 suppliers and will be promoted on its existing Facebook and Twitter pages.
Marketing and events manager Rebekkah Dooley says: “We wanted to try something different as the members’ bar idea has become more commonplace since we opened.” The venue is working with Jenny Gardner, founder of liquor importer
Sip Or Mix, to create the absinthe menu. The Jubjub Members’ Bar was launched two years ago. Members will be able to exchange their keys for a free drink until May at regular ‘swing tag’ parties.
Vintage hub for Carlisle
Three floors of the tower will be available to sellers and artists Ed Doyle
A vintage traders emporium is set for an Easter launch in Carlisle city centre. A Very Vintage Affair organisers Stuart Bruce-Gormley
Net store in loyalty drive
and Sara Fabre are preparing Warwick Tower as a vintage hub with the feel of Camden Lock. “The student numbers have
The London store has spotted a gap in the African clothing market James Higgins
Retrobates vintage clothing store is launching a pop-up shop in Lagos, Nigeria. It is also unveiling an online
grown and will continue to do so,” says Bruce-Gormley, referring to Carlisle College’s recent announcement of a £5.3m arts college. The move is expected to attract more young people interested in vintage. As well as clothes, bags and accessories, there will be creative wall-space for artists and photographers. Bruce-Gormley says: “We fill in where the high street falls. People still want to go shopping.” Bruce-Gormley and Fabre have run A Very Vintage Affair from Carlisle for the past 12 months.The next event is set for 23 March at Hallmark Hotel.
Upcycling store Junky Styling is to rebrand and change its name. It aims to have the brand ready for April as it has been invited to pop-up events in Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei. The store will also introduce an online service to focus on reworking old clothes. Co-founder Kerry Sze says: “Many people still don’t know that upcycling exists and how it works. We want to make ourselves relevant to the modern market.” Sze feels it is important to clarify what service the store provides to
In April Junky Styling will head to Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei
capitalise on the rise of consumer interest. She adds: “When we started, the terms sustainable, green and eco-friendly didn’t exist in this industry. We are only just beginning to promote our sustainability.”
A Somerset vintage shop has seen a 400 per cent increase in weekly sales after Nigella Lawson wore one of its dresses on US TV, writes Francesca Rice. Weekly website traffic has also risen by 500 per cent since the show aired in January. Deadly Is The Female now plans to increase its number of collections and redesign its website to meet demand.
Junky Styling was the first clothing shop to open on Brick Lane in 1997 where it gained fame for its wardrobe surgery. It has moved to Hackney Road to join the rapidly expanding vintage scene.
Secret Essex charity strategy Free vintage sewing class
Online clothing store Devoted2Vintage will introduce a new customer loyalty scheme this month.The company aims to gather detailed information about specific buying habits and monitor customer trends. For every £1 spent customers will receive ten free credits to be used against future purchases. While credits will not have actual monetary value, they can be stored in each customer’s personal account after every purchase made.They can then be used to receive 20 per cent discounts.
shop in April and releasing an official clothing range later this month. The decision to open a store in
Lagos was made after more and more Nigerian locals and tourists visited the London shop and mentioned that it was cheaper to buy clothes in London than in Nigeria. Owner Deborah Efemini will take advantage of this gap in the market and have her new store ready for Nigerian Fashion Week. “Tourists have a lot of money and they like to show off back home,” she says. The website will be used to increase the availability of the store’s official range, but aims to make the site an online product showroom. The clothing range will initially consist of various styles of reproduction dresses but the store is planning to introduce menswear and homeware in the future.
Junky Styling’s oriental upcycling mission
SHOP THE WEB FOR ED’S VINTAGE GOODS
The Jubjub Members’ Bar will be taken over for pop-ups
PAINTED BLACK WILL LAUNCH OWN LINE Painted Black is launching a vintage-inspired clothing range in-store. Owner Amelia Dillingham is designing an exclusive line inspired by the vintage she currently sells in her North London store. The move follows a successful first year in which the shop was named Best New Vintage Shop by the Vintage Guide to London. People in the News, p24
Vintage cocktail bar Callooh Callay is ditching its members’ scheme in favour of concept pop-up bars. The room housing the Jubjub Members’ Bar, which could only be accessed with a key handed out by staff, will instead be used to house the new bars in Shoreditch. The space has been transformed into a Parisian-style absinthe house, and opened on the anniversary of the lifting of the US absinthe ban. The first pop-up, ‘Absinthe and Oysters’, launched this week and runs until 30 March.
ORDER YOUR DRY CLEANING ONLINE Dry-cleaning specialist Upstage goes online this month to attract more private clients. Founder Peter Salmon says: “Until now, Upstage clients have come through word-ofmouth amongst the vintage elite of traders and theatre companies. We can now reach a less exclusive range of customers by going online.” Comment, p8
Very Vintage Affairs
250,000 JEWELLERY PIECES UP FOR SALE Victoria Vintage Jewellery & Accessories, one of the UK’s largest vintage jewellery wholesalers, is introducing an online store this week. Traders and start-up businesses will be able to view and purchase 2,000 items. Around 250,000 pieces will be added during the year.
Shop pops up in Africa Retrobates Vintage Clothing
THE BEST FISH IN TOWN HITS CAMDEN Vintage fish and chip shop Poppies of Shoreditch is opening a second store in Camden in March. The 1950s-themed restaurant is expanding after being named the best fish and chip shop in London at the National Fish and Chip Awards. The new location will be double the size of the Shoreditch location. Comment, p9
Cocktail bar to uncover new themes
www.vintagebusiness.co.uk Callooh Callay
IN B R I E F
Lucy Craymer keeping hush Jordan Chamberlain
Secret vintage-themed events are hitting Essex this March, with organ-
isers holding back the location until the last minute. Organiser Lucy Craymer says: “This gets local people excited, and creates a buzz around the event.” The Secret Vintage Fair is launching on 30 March to raise funds for Essex Headway, a charity that helps families affected by brain injury. A fashion show, family craft area and vintage workshops will sit alongside classic pop-up stalls. Craymer will announce the whereabouts a week before in local newspapers and via social media. Vintage Vanity also used its collection of boutique clothes to put on a themed night at a similarly secret Essex location this week.
A free seven-week vintage clothesmaking course will run in South Wales from April. Women will be taught how to design and make clothes by Vintage Vision’s sewing tutor in Abergavenny, after scrutinising the Monmouthshire County Council Museum’s range of costumes. Two pop-up museums in Abergavenny and Chepstow will showcase the collections later in the year. Vintage Vision organiser Amanda Peters says: “People will be able to see things in a more life-like atmosphere.”
BBC 2013 HOMES & ANTIQUES AWARDS BBC Homes & Antiques Magazine will name its 2013 Vintage Shop of the Year next month. The winner will be revealed at the Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in Battersea, London on 24 April. “We want to champion the independent businesses on the high street,” says Natasha Goodfellow deputy editor of Homes & Antiques. FREE LEOMINSTER FESTIVAL IN JUNE This year’s Antique and Vintage Festival in Leominster, Herefordshire will be free to the public in mid-June. Organisers have decided not to charge visitors in a change from last year’s festival. A celebrity dealer will also make an appearance, although details are not being released until nearer the time. SECOND BRIXTON POP-UP TO OPEN Former Cath Kidston retail design director Andy Luckett will open a second vintage pop-up shop at Brixton East 1871, from 15 March to 14 April. The 17th century renovated furniture warehouse will feature a mad scientist’s lab theme amongst his collection of upscaled vintage wares, industrial items and furniture. REBECCA JADE’S ONLINE EXPANSION Female clothing store Rebecca Jade’s Vintage is celebrating its six-month anniversary by developing a website and expanding into homeware. The store opens on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but owner Rebecca Jade hopes to eventually open full-time and stock men’s clothing. DERRY TO HOST THE GRAND VINTAGE BALL Derry-Londonderry will host a Grand Vintage Ball on 4 May to celebrate winning the bid for UK City of Culture 2013. A fair the following day will sell vintage clothes and accessories. Culture Company, the independent organisation formed to deliver the City of Culture programme, is offering preparatory dance classes.
6 Fairs and Events
WELSH BEATLES FANS TO COME TOGETHER
Miss Ivy Events is organising new vintage events in Plymouth. Two fairs will take place in the Guildhall on 27 April and 28 September, with plans for more in 2014. The company is also launching Plymouth’s first-ever vintage market in the piazza on 15 and 16 June in co-operation with the Plymouth Town Centre Company. Founder Joanne Macaskie wanted to bring vintage back to Plymouth after the success of the 2012 fair. “Over 1,500 people attended last year. It was something Plymouth really needed,” she says.
The vintage scene is continuing to thrive in Plymouth
The events will focus on vintage clothing and homeware, with many of the stalls aimed at students.
DISCOVER VINTAGE IN NORTH YORKSHIRE Discover Vintage is launching an event at Ripley Castle, North Yorkshire, on 21 July. The event will feature stalls, music and classic cars as well as a themed picnic that encourages visitors to dress in vintage attire. Keeley Harris, director at Discover Vintage, says: “We intend to create a vintage day out.” Any vintage vehicle owner can get involved in the event this summer Ed Doyle
West Cumbria Vintage Club Rally is going ahead on 7 July after
Fair expanding to five new sites
being cancelled at the last minute in 2012. The event is expected to
A North East vintage fair is expanding to five new locations from April 2013. BR Events will hold its Chic Vintage Fair at towns across North Yorkshire, County Durham and Northumberland. Organiser Bridget Moore is building on the fair’s success in Stockton-on-Tees and Clitheroe, where it usually sees crowds of between 2,000 and 4,000. The stall fee is £35. Moore plans to introduce additional events for 2014, including a mid-week fair.
attract up to 8,000 visitors to its Whitehaven venue. Organiser Bob Sanderson has yet to commit to any additional features for 2013, focusing instead on promoting the event’s return and getting numbers up. He says: “We’re trying to rebuild it, you might say. Bring it back from the ashes.” For 31 years the rally has proved a popular meeting ground for enthusiasts of vintage vehicles, as well as a place for vintage traders. Last year’s event was called off due to torrential rain that saw vehicles struggle to enter the venue. “The field was flooded. The tractors were sinking,” says Sanderson. Vintage rally, p18
Festival comes to Yorkshire Alex Claydon
EXTRA SELLING DAY FOR BATH TRADERS Bath Vintage and Antiques Market will take place two Sundays a month from April. This increase from one monthly event will meet demand from traders and customers. Manager Naomi Knight says: “The market has established itself now and there is a need for more trader’s outlets.” THREE FAIRS A MONTH AT OLD SPITALFIELDS Pop Up Vintage Fairs London is holding a second monthly fair at Old Spitalfields Market from April. The market will now host a general vintage fair three Saturdays a month. Stalls cost £45 for the day and entrance for customers is free. It is being promoted through a multimedia campaign, which includes posters, flyers, Facebook and Twitter.
There will also be live music, dancing and fashion shows at the Guildhall fairs. Stalls cost £40.
West Cumbrian vehicle rally brought back from the ashes after last year’s big washout Jim Davis
Vintage Vision’s popular South Wales vintage fair is being replaced with a Beatlesthemed event this summer. It coincides with the 50th anniversary of when the band played in Abergavenny for the first time. The second of their annual fairs is set to go ahead as usual in November.
Miss Ivy growing strong
LONDON SHOP HOSTS INDUSTRY SEMINARS Beyond Retro will host monthly ‘salon sessions’ from March to teach vintage enthusiasts about the industry. The free events will be open to traders looking to succeed in the sector. Members of Beyond Retro’s team will discuss topics at their store in Soho, such as the use of social media and visual merchandising.
IN B R I E F
There will be two marquees of stalls Francesca Rice
Now And Then Events is building on the success of its Does Vintage
Fair by launching a vintage festival. Co-founders Alex Claydon and Sam De La Tour will hold the event at Scampston Hall in North Yorkshire on 9 June. There will be live music, vintage dancing and a vintage tearoom at the festival, alongside numerous stalls. A vintage car rally will also take place, courtesy of co-organisers Champagne Cars. Claydon and De La Tour will turn the festival into a two-day event next year if it’s successful in 2013. Stall fees range from £50 for a single stall to £120 for a double.
Get paid on the go with a smartphone or tablet
Payment made easy for traders Matt Scott
A pilot secure system that instantly guarantees card payments has been launched by Intuit UK. Intuit Pay
allows users to take payments via their smartphone. Businesses can sign up for the
ASK VINTAGE VICTOR: VAT Tips What is it? VAT Very Attractive Turtles? Playing in the O2 next week, are they? No, idiot. It stands for value added tax – and it’s important if your company has a turnover of £77,000 or more. And how do I go about that? Register online. It’s dead easy. They’ll send you a VAT number and you’ll be ‘active’ from then. You pay it quarterly via direct debit. Careful mind, they’ll take the money whether it’s there or not. Can’t I just wait for them to get in touch with me? It’s your responsibility, not theirs. But what’s the big deal? You can claim VAT on anything you buy for your firm. You also need to charge customers VAT. Got to be more complicated than that? It is – VAT applies to some goods and there are different rates. So what do I need to do? You separate things into two columns – one for the purchases you make and one for what you’ve charged your customers. You subtract one from the other and
boom – that’s what you owe! You do all this online, of course. Owe? Unfortunately that’s generally the case. If you’re owed money instead it will be deducted from what you owe the following month. But I make loads of purchases and have a ton of customers. Isn’t this going to take ages? Probably. Many businesses have an accountant, or you can buy a computer package. Basically you’re an unpaid tax collector. Not paying VAT is illegal. But if I’m waiting to get paid for something, do I have to pay VAT in advance? Nope, you can wait until you’ve received the money. And what if I forget to charge customers VAT? That’s your problem mate, you still need to pay it. This is unfair on the people that don’t buy a lot of stuff though… There’s a different system for them. They get to keep five per cent on the VAT they charge. Anything else I should know? Head to hmrc.gov.uk/tax. There’s more information there than you could possibly need, or ever want, to know. Kat Bannon
trial via Intuit’s website. The first option is a pay-as-you-go contract charging £99 for the reader with a three per cent transaction commission. Alternatively, traders can sign a six-month contract, which includes a free reader, a £10 monthly subscription fee and a 2.75 per cent transaction commission. The release follows the UK launch of Swedish-based iZettle last summer. Both offerings enable traders to take payments via a card reader plugged into a smartphone or tablet. Customers enter their details, then funds are instantly guaranteed and deposited in the seller’s account within a few days. iZettle user Shelly Barns, owner of Hickory Vintage, says: “It means I don’t miss out on sales if people don’t have cash.” Barns set up as a sole trader nine months ago, and 25 per cent of her transactions are now card payments. The majority of these are for more expensive items, contributing more than 25 per cent of her turnover.
Initiative to support the move online
SEMINARS An Introduction to Building a Start-up: 9 Mar, London. How to start a scalable business plus a postevent online classroom. escapethecity.org £150 User Acquisition Workshop: 16 Mar, London. Technology, digital, internet and media training. Basics of Google’s conversion and analytics. Speaker, Alex Kahn, managing director and co-founder, Timgu. escapethecity.org £75 Start-up Saturday: 16 Mar, British Library. Covers financing, budgeting techniques, protecting brands and marketing on a budget. Run by Enterprise Nation. Lead speaker, entrepreneur Emma Jones. bl.uk/bipc £30 Barclays Get Ready For Business: Regularly througout March, London. Business planning workshop day to provide focus and support on the key areas of creating a business plan, and setting up a company. myincubator.co.uk Free Meet a Mentor:
Tools and advice to go global Ed Doyle
More vintage retailers could enter the digital marketplace with help from Lloyds Banking Group, the BBC, TalkTalk and five other companies. Go On UK is an ongoing joint web initiative offering tools and guidance to bring small businesses online. Only 14 per cent of startups currently sell their goods on the internet. Lloyds’ head of media relations Emile Abu-Shakra says: “Vintage retailers are a classic case that could use more of the internet, especially in the case of exports, to open themselves up to a global market.” The plans coincide with Lloyds’ own new year claim to assist 100,000 SMEs in getting started this year following poor widespread bank lending in 2012.
20 Mar, Bristol, 27 Mar, Newcastle. Matches certified volunteers with new business start-ups. Gives an hour a month for two years for support and advice. Covering all aspects of growing your business. ioee.co.uk Free Sales and Getting Customers Masterclass: 13 Mar, Leiciester. One day course helping customers identify target markets and competitors. Also shows startups how to develop an online brand. nbv.co.uk £60 Get Ready For Business: 11 Mar, Carlisle. Seminar shows entrepreneurs how to turn their ideas into full-time jobs. crea.co.uk Free Liverpool Business Fair: 19 Mar, Liverpool. Marketing and business clinics offering support, information and advice on running a new startup. businessfairsuk.com Free James Higgins & Tom Kenning
Retrobates’ Deborah Efemini discusses the necessity of turning your hobby into a thriving business and how websites can make you money while you are sleeping Deborah Efemini
Treat your vintage business like a hobby and you will only get hobby money. It’s important to remember that you’re working in a store, paying yourself a wage. Poverty brings clarity – you still need to end the day with something in your pocket, even if it’s only ten pence.
Dry cleaner has vintage industry in a spin as he cleans up the murky clothing market Upstage’s Peter Salmon explains how dry cleaning can help vintage traders turn a bigger profit on their clothes
As a dry cleaner with a passion some amazing things and we for vintage, I clean for many deal- can see the thrill of the chase collectors and dealers. ers, museums and auction houses. It for With a little bit of knowlputs me in contact with collectors whose passions span many years. I edge, you can make items more chuckle to think that when I started, sellable than they would have been before cleaning. 1960s vintage was new. For example, this A common trait People year I’ve seen a £70 across the vintage indress selling for £7,000 dustry is a lack of unthink and a piece found in a derstanding about dry they can dressing up box selling cleaning. I am on a oneclean any for £12,000. A William man mission to change piece Morris panel covthis and manage exering a table also pectations of what can sold for £2,500. and can’t be achieved. Unfortunately though, People think they can bring anything in and sell it for a these excellent profit marhuge profit. It’s not that simple. gins are not an everyday Someone brought in three occurrence and dry cleaning is seen pieces recently. One was sent back as a relatively high cost. If demand is high we will as it didn’t even need washing. Another was taken back as it wasn’t start open days where dealgoing to sell for a profit and the ers and collectors can come third piece had Sellotape all over it. and have their pieces assessed But we are asked to clean from a cleaning point of view.
Keep your staff hooked Poppies of Shoreditch’s Pat ‘Pops’ Newlands explains how putting his staff first has helped make his fish and chips the best in London and how a smile goes a long way
Pops gives service with a smile
I’ve worked in my own chip shops before but never found the right location. When I opened Poppies I knew it was the right place, and I had found somewhere to show what fish and chips should really be like. The 1950s theme stemmed from a love of memorabilia from the era. I pop over to the Vintage Fair at Spitalfields every Thursday and always add to my collection. I want to create a talking point that attracts customers from all around. The main thing for me at
Poppies is my team. I believe that the most important people in a business aren’t the customers, but the staff. Being fair with your staff makes them feel loved, wanted and needed. When they feel like this they will pass it on to the customers and create a pleasant experience for diners. We have a smile check every hour just to make sure everyone is happy and being friendly. They normally pass. I can honestly say hand on heart that I have never had a customer complaint. A lot of that is down to the teams I put in place. All my 24 staff members are close friends and people I knew before I opened the restaurant. I see myself as a friend first and a boss second. I make sure people are committed to working here by giving
Interview by Tom Kenning
them a percentage of the shop. This incentive makes them feel appreciated and encourages them to give their all to make the restaurant as successful as it can be.
I have a saying that if the staff are not right then the business will not be right. If you have the wrong team in place the business is destined to fail.
Interview by Matt Scott
Fishing tackle and book dealer John Andrews has seen it all over the years. He talks about living life as a market seller and describes how traders work together instead of competing against one another
Salmon on making items sellable
Virtually everything can be cleaned but not everything will get the expected result. The dry cleaning industry has undergone many changes over the last few years and added legislation and energy costs have caused many to go out of business. Training is virtually non-existent among those that remain. I can understand why the owner of a valuable piece of vintage clothing would be reluctant to have it cleaned.
Poppies features authentic memorabilia from the 1950s
Angling for trade at market stall Jim Eyre (@scribblebag)
Efemini made her hobby a business
This industry may be your pas- before agreeing to take part. There sion but you need to work smart were too many stalls all selling as well as hard. Think carefully about the same products and this led to every good opportunity, specifically diminishing returns. The only people who made any what makes it such a good deal and whether you’d offer the chance to money were those selling umbrellas and wellington boots because the somebody yourself. Vintage stores are becoming weather was terrible. So it’s important to try and create more like high street shops every day. I’m embracing this change an online store and embrace emergwith a ‘friends and family’ promo- ing trends as it adds another string to your bow. In order to tion at the store. Regular attract a wider internacustomers, people who tional market you need live in the area or even You have to have a strong online friends of regulars are to work presence.While social given a ten per cent dissmart as media is initially confuscount. ing, it will become your Store ownership has well as best friend. not always been straight- hard Sell your products forward for me and online and turn the shop there have been several expensive mistakes along the way. into a new interactive showroom. There is no better feeling than The most memorable occurred 18 months ago when I took a stall at waking up and discovering that you have made money in your sleep. the Lovebox Festival. Unfortunately, I didn’t research it Interview by James Higgins
Welcome to Vintage Business, the only national weekly magazine covering business life in the world of vintage. The UK industry has gone through rapid growth over the last few years. This has led to a boom in the number of traders, events and services, but the industry has remained fragmented. At Vintage Business we want to provide a focal point that traders can look to for help and guidance. It will also give operators a voice at local, national and government level. In this launch issue we look at how to finance and develop start-ups and celebrate the successes of leading industry figures. News coverage from around the country is complemented with analysis of the issues that matter to you. The magazine and web site are also full to the brim with stars of the future and handy tips and advice to help you market your business. The recession will be a test for all of us over the coming months and years, but Vintage Business is here to provide continual support as well as a forum for the best ideas and innovations for UK vintage. For the latest news and features find us online at vintagebusiness.co.uk or download our free app. We look forward to hearing your views.
Evolving with the times
E D I TO R ’ S L E T T ER
Andrews oftens buys stock for other traders
What we have isn’t a trade or even a lifestyle: it is a solemn duty. It’s about paying respects to the great fishing tackle industry and all those anglers to whom that fishing tackle used to belong. There’s no sense of rivalry between us even though I suppose we should be in competition. It’s a small world in which everyone has enthusiasm for the same thing so it
makes sense to be on good terms. You survive through a lot of back-scratching. You’re buying for the trade as much as anything else. Everyone has their own customers and so a lot of the time we’ll buy for each other for them to sell on to their customers. A typical week doesn’t exist. I’ll always be running around, buying and selling, or travelling two or
three hours outside London, speak- absolutely disastrous. People will always have an ing to other dealers and visiting appetite to buy from people facevarious auctions. It’s important to make sure to-face, regardless of how much you’re not chasing after a totally shopping moves online. Markets lost cause. However, dealers love are an experience, and not in the the thrill of the chase – if they could kind of trite way offered by the high they’d be buying something every street but something much more. There’s a community and enminute of the day. I’d be in a good place if I could get ergy between sellers that is always the kind of sales I get at fairs every going to be there. A new generaweek. Turnover is quicker and you’re tion moved in about three years aiming at a specific audience, but I’d ago now. I think there’s definitely room for a quiet renaissance within never give up on my market stall. the marketplace. When it was first Yes, stalls have got announced that Spismaller and more talfields, was up for This isn’t sale there was initial a lifestyle, expensive due to growing demand, but it’s not panic. We heard the it is a unreasonable. change in ownership solemn People might say it through the grapevine was better once but rethough, so we knew it duty ally it’s just as good now. was coming. You’re a born optimist as It’s got a real place within the local scene. It is so popu- a stall holder – there’s no room for lar and well loved that for a buyer to pessimism or you will never survive. come in and change things would be Interview by Kat Bannon
www.vintagebusiness.co.uk Kate Molloy
Holy Molloy! It’s the National Vintage Awards
free adver tising and a feature in Vintage Life. Molloy is running the awards, based in Birmingham, in conjunction with Le Keux Events. She says: “Everything is focused on London so it would have been easy to do it there, but Birmingham is more inclusive. Holding it there is saying the right thing.” Consumer magazine Vintage Life says it has a history of working with Molloy and is keen to collaborate with the NVAs. It will cover the
event build-up, provide a report on the ceremony and feature the winners in its latest edition. Former PR and branding expert Molloy will draw on her experience from previous endeavours to make the NVAs a triumph. Her new website, vintagebusinessadvice.co.uk, offers an insight into her marketing experience. Molloy hopes to drive industry growth. "Vintage in the UK does not have a central hub. I hope the NVAs can create that,” she says. ■
Daniel Kemp examines how three new directories offer fresh marketing opportunities for the industry The need exists to create a formal list of vintage businesses so they can connect with customers and each other. These schemes form an important part of the industry’s growth and help bring everyone under one umbrella. ■
The directories will provide a cheaper advertising alternative
culation (16,000), but is taking a different tack. The directory will be online and in the print publication. Editor Karyn Sparks says:“We want to ensure that people can access upto-date information and that there are no broken web links. The directory will be split by sector to help customers search.” The cost is £60 plus VAT per year for standard listings, the cheapest of the three. Like Vintage Life, being vintage is the only membership restriction.
Pretty Nostalgic / Vintage Life / Vintage Explorer
the print publication and on the magazine’s website. Subscribers also receive two copies of every bi-monthly issue. Vintage Life claims it is the biggest title on the market with a circulation of 19,700 and an estimated readership of 56,000. Pretty Nostalgic has a circulation of 7,000, but is published independently. Dragoon Publishing is the company behind Vintage Life. Marketing manager Stephanie Goward says: “We’ve launched due to demand. Businesses want to advertise and they like having directory listings.” The directory will only be published in print and not online, although this may change if demand is high.The content will also be available through the magazine’s mobile app, which will link to company websites.The cost is £99 per year for the standard listing. Vintage Explorer has a similar cir-
Charity shops aren’t what they used to be. No longer are they second home to the OAP, or frequently fruitless rummages for the cash-strapped 20-something. Now, they’re for the customers who don’t even know they’re charity shops at all. Oxfam saw website sales shoot up 400 per cent when it launched its online vintage section. But what made Oxfam make that move? Realising how many people typed ‘vintage’ into their search box. However online shopping is still a digital world away for many charity shops. A lack of resources, quantity of stock and time constraints are all factors they need to overcome. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t taking advantage of the growing demand for vintage. Shrewsbury’s British Red Cross branch underwent a complete re-branding in October 2011, becoming the first vintage and retro store within the company. Their profits increased by 45 per cent in the first two weeks and have remained higher than previous years since. Targets have been increased, Although branding themselves as vintage stores donations are still essential for the sector’s survival and the store’s popularity tempts but this system is still in the making. heard of them before. people to flock from far and wide, charity shops are finally capitalising This concept of making the Also, a 100 per cent vintage on an industry that has always been so they no longer have to rely on most of vintage isn’t new for some stock level is almost impossible. “To within arm’s reach. Coats can go for business from locals and tourists. though. Retromania, in Victoria, get people educated in what is vin£100, which, although expensive in Before the re-branding the shop London, has been doing it for five tage and what isn’t is difficult,” says the charity shop world, is a potenhad always been considered difyears now. Part of the FARA group, Simpson. tial steal in the vintage realm. ferent. It was well-known that its who work to help orphaned and The Guisborough British Red That said, the venture is not range of vintage and retro stock abandoned children and Cross branch is somewithout its snags. “Donations have was greater than other branches young people in Romawhat of a vintage earlyfallen because people no longer and regular customers would swing nia, it is the sole spelearner. It operates as Profits think they can give the run-of-theby to bag unique finds. cifically vintage store of a ‘shop with a shop’ increased mill items,” says manager Hannah But now visitors have to triplethe 50 branches across concept by housing a Simpson. “We still need them, as take before they realise it’s even a 45% in London. dedicated vintage and they continue to provide a basis for charity shop. The period-style inteStock is collated from retro section rather than the first the shop’s income.” riors and creative displays don’t just donations given to the embarking on a com- two There’s room for improvemake it more visually appealing. It other shops and passed plete overhaul, but even weeks ment and development too. If enables the store to price products on to them weekly. Semithis small change has had other shops what they’re nars are held for a series a massive impact. were to colworth, rather of weeks each year in order to ed“People are more aware of what late vintage than what ucate staff across the company on we sell and are willing to pay that pieces and people are what not to rag and what to take little bit extra for it,” says manager send them willing to pay. particular care of, ensuring pieces Sue Moreland. direct to H o w e v e r, are given the care they deserve. Demelza of Rochester opened the Shrewsthis does not It isn’t rocket science. It’s not as a vintage boutique in Decembury branch mean customeven anything to do with Mary Porber 2011, sitting amongst a row of they’d make ers are, quite tas. It’s just making sure customers independent stores in an affluent a bigger literally, paying know what you’ve got, and putting area. All of the store’s profits go to profit than if the price for a it where there’s not a floral-printed help hospice care for children but sold at their chic environchance they’ll miss it. ■ sister stores, you wouldn’t know it if you’d never ment. Rather, Demelza looks like a vintage boutique Micehlle Holliday
Kate Molloy hopes her event will reward authentic sellers and traders
Directories work to connect businesses
Directories can be a useful and cost-effective way to promote businesses. However, until this year they haven’t existed for the vintage industry. Magazines Vintage Explorer, Vintage Life and Pretty Nostalgic are all launching vintage business directories for the first time. Pretty Nostalgic introduced its Brilliantly British Directory late last year and aims to expand in 2013. It says its unique selling point is that it only features authentic vintage businesses that are UK-based. Editor-in-chief Nicole Burnett says: “Often the only companies who can afford to take out full advertisements are those that make things cheaply abroad. Our scheme is not a gimmick and we’re not about trying to make money off people – we want to help businesses promote themselves who couldn’t do it otherwise.” Burnett’s scheme costs £200 per year, and includes listings in both
The great big charity shop revival
Long gone are the days when charity shops posed little competition to vintage traders. Kat Bannon investigates how the sector has grabbed hold of a trend that has always been there for the taking
Matt Scott explores the overdue need to unite and recognise the best the industry has to offer
Molloy has introduced strict You might think you are alone in criteria to ensure only genuine the marketplace, but there are many others out there just like you. vintage sellers can enter. The awards will have 17 categories Vintage often suffers from a lack of focusing on areas such as online cohesiveness and unity, so it does and physical shops, weddings, fairs not benefit from the opportunities and events. an established industry could offer. Entries must be made by the Kate Molloy is hoping that the end of March, for a fee of £35, and National Vintage Awards (NVAs) public voting opens in May. Votes can be the source of this unity. This can be cast on the NVAs’ year will see the debut website and through of the event, celebrating The NVAs voting slips available from the best of UK vintage. participating stores. “People are moaning are for Those with the most about the abuse of the best votes will be assessed the vintage buzzword,” in the by a judging panel she says. “I want this to looking at a number of be for people doing it country areas including customer for the right reasons. service, authenticity and Something that proves quality. The winner will then they are among the best in the receive various prizes including country for vintage.”
Judy packs a vintage punch with her fair share of success
From ad hoc party planner to scoring a starring role in the UK vintage fairs market, Judy Berger knows how to keep a cool head . She talks to Kat Bannon about the dangers of overconfidence in the early stages, the importance of proper pacing and preparation, how innovation is key to keeping a step ahead of the game, and why Twitter doesn’t give her enough words for everything she has to say
feedback,” Berger says. She added Sheffield Hallam, Liverpool John Moores, Manchester Metropolitan and Hull to her university tour in just a few months. But that magic carpet she flew started to unravel. Some cities weren’t quite as successful as she’d hoped. “I tried to do too much too soon. I’d had a confidence boost and believed I was invincible. I felt I could go to Dubai and do it. “When you start out in business you need to get that invincibility knocked out of you, otherwise you’re just like a bull in a china shop – you’ll never get anywhere.” That brush with failure, however light, was a crucial realisation that has made Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair into what it is today. Hitting big cities was always the obvious route and the growth has come naturally. But hiring expensive halls is a no-go, as it prevents the savings being passed onto stallholders and, in turn, affects customers. With a database of 1,500 traders and enough experience to have a feel for what people are after in each city, Judy’s is able to handpick stalls to suit. Events are planned way in advance but drop-outs and cancellations keep the process fluid and changeable, as well as giving Berger a bit of excitement. However, she wasn’t always aware of the need to appeal to everyone. “Once, if something wasn’t my cup of Berger prides her vintage fairs on affordable, high quality stock, making them a favourite with students tea, I didn’t automatically think it would be someone else’s. CV Another key to her success lies in “We’d run events sometimes where extensive marketing. there would be too much of the same “I basically founded my business on thing, like stall upon stall of girls’ clothing Born: Leeds Myspace. I’d just learned everything I from the 1960s to1980s, when there’s so Education: Fashion BTEC at Leeds needed to know only for Facebook to much else out there.” College 1993-1994 appear. I was devastated.” Berger is a great BA Fashion Promotion UCLAN 1996She gave in, of course, and takes great believer in the idea 2000 pride in her frequently updated pages. that the magic of Drive: Black Volvo XC90 However, Twitter proved a digital vintage falls in its Pet: Dog called Dolly (Parton) landscape too far. “My marketing manager unpredictability. “You Best vintage find: Beautiful, heavy sends most of my tweets. I’m not a could turn up with beaded cropped jacket from the early woman of few words. 140 characters just the idea of buying 1980s. aren’t enough. ” an amazing dress, Can’t leave the house We were She ensures using SEO (search engine but it won’t be the without: iPhone, purse doing four optimisation) is taken into consideration right size and you What would we see you doing events so she comes out on top in online come away with a at a fair: In serious shopping mode every searches. Nevertheless, the company still vintage eggcup or rummaging through stalls, having a adopts traditional ways of promoting three-foot flamingo single cake or maybe doing a bit of work brand awareness. instead. Although, If you weren’t organising weekend “We do a bit of everything: press, radio, the next flamingo vintage fairs you would be: leafleting, posters. Anything that can get I see has got my Creative director of Topshop The bright yellow and red branding has become famous nationwide the name out there.” name on it.” Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair
udy Berger can throw a fantastic party. No, Judy Berger can throw an unforgettable party. The kind of party that means it’ll be rude of her not to throw some more. So, like a good hostess, she did. But these aren’t just any type of parties. These are full of vintage traders, customers with an eye for a beautiful find, and a trademark affordability. Seven years, 30 cities and perhaps 400 (she’s lost count) events later, Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair is the UK’s biggest, bagging her a leading lady part and a nationwide brand. “Every fair is like a massive social occasion. Traders are some of my best friends,” she says. Berger was running an online clothes swapping store in November 2005 when she asked an East London bar if she could hire it for free to celebrate the shop’s fifth birthday. Over 250 people attended, ranging from Grazia journalists to fashion students. Naturally, the bar asked her to throw another. Bored with the usual markets, and in an era when Asos hadn’t quite kicked off and when Topshop was cool, but not quite cool enough, Berger decided to get some vintage traders together. Once again she packed out the bar. Live bands played and there was even a cocktail named after her. She was on to something. The beginning of 2006 saw her first vintage fair at Leeds Students’ Union’s nightclub. Over 450 people attended, mainly students and young people, to buy stock from15 vintage sellers. Not bad for four weeks of planning. “It was really busy, and I had great
A huge number of traders travel the distance to sell at her events
Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair
I basically founded my business on Myspace
More inventive ways to get customers coming back again and again include the Advintage Card. Distributing 5,000 in three months, it gives exclusive offers to loyal customers – and counteracts the British inability to haggle. “Stalls can offer exclusive discounts and stand out from what’s next door. Free entry is another appeal.” Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair certainly isn’t the only one around, but it has managed to stay on top, and be first in a number of areas for a few years now. “It’s sad when people try to compete, and plan their fair for exactly the same day in exactly the same city. What’s a shame is that people would have gone to both events. “My team are innovators. They’re always looking for something new to do, which is why we’re always ahead.” The four-strong Yorkshire-based team, which covers marketing, design and bookings, is key, but there are also contacts in cities up and down the country to manage events on the day. In 2009 the Kilo Fair was born, and in 2010 the Vintage Furniture Flea Market. “The Kilo Fair is something we did first, and still no one does it as well as us. It really is a bargain basement and that’s because we work with [Glass Onion] the biggest vintage wholesaler in the country. “Kilo sales have been getting a bad name because people throw together stock which they can’t sell in their shops rather than good quality pieces.” With only around two hours to set up five tons of stock – the equivalent
of a four-floor Topshop – it’s not exactly easy-going work either. “I used to carry bags on my back as big as me, even though I’m only 5ft 1in. They’re the hardest work you’ll ever do.” But, in terms of having something on the cards for the upcoming months, Berger might be keeping plans close to her chest for a while. “This year, I’m going with the flow. We were doing four events every weekend in 2012 and it was knackering. We can’t afford to do too much again – I want to sit back and enjoy it instead.” Though the idea of complete relaxation is never an option. No matter how many traders are in her database or how many events she adds to a tally, there will always be the fear that people simply just don’t turn up. “What’s worrying is that you don’t technically own anything. It’s nerve wracking – stallholders could just decide they don’t want to come. “If you’re looking for a career in vintage my first advice would be not to give up your day job too soon. I’ve seen some people in serious trouble and it’s really sad.” If you are serious, Berger might be a good first port of call. “I love business and I think I’ve got the experience to be a mentor to others,” she says. But if blood runs thicker than a love of vintage, we could be in for a bit of a surprise. “My dad sold his accountancy firm to train to be a massage therapist at 72. Who knows what I could get up to!” ■
The kilo sale question: is it about quality or quantity? Few retailers will admit to relying on the convenience of wholesalers. James Higgins examines the thorny issue of bulk buying
Speakeasies move above ground Bart’s launched in 2009 and took ideas from New York’s modern basement bars to create one of the capital’s first authentic venues
Bars and restaurants throughout the country are taking inspiration from Prohibition-era America to move underground. Daniel Kemp investigates how they are thriving despite hiding themselves away
People hear a secret and they want to talk about it
all, it does create an air of exclusivity that people aspire to, which is great for our business. Our customers love it.” The fact that speakeasies are hidden and secret actually helps, as Evans & Peel’s Harrison explains. “We can’t advertise because we’re secret but that means we don’t have any promotion costs,” he said. “At the most basic level, when people hear a secret they want to talk about it.” Speakeasies’ success just goes to show that people really can’t keep a secret. ■
furnishing a bar The Inception Group runs a number of themed bars across London, including Bart’s (pictured above). Cofounder Charlie Gilkes says: “We launched Bart’s in 2009 as the first site my business partner and I opened. The concept allows the look and feeling of secrecy to really set it apart. We furnished it on a shoestring budget from Kempton Antiques Market and are constantly updating it. “There is a real trend currently for all things vintage and this has helped us to grow not only Bart’s but our entire company. Although they have different themes, our other venues also appeal to people’s love of nostalgia.”
items they deliver can vary in quality. In many cases a shop will not see what it has bought until it arrives in store. In an industry that relies heavily on word of mouth to advertise, and generates a lot of profit from repeat customers, relying on stock chosen in bulk by others is risky. “You get what you pay for but it’s low quality. All the good items have been cherry-picked by independent stores before the kilo companies get their hands on stuff,” says Hunky Dory shop assistant John Smith. While bulk buying is not a new idea, it represents a shift towards the modernisation and commercialisation of the vintage retail industry. But does the ‘vintage’ market really need to be modernised? Many people are attracted to the unique and individual nature of vintage pieces and how hand-picked items reflect the character of each shop owner. Bulk buying unseen products can go against their ideals. “It’s a whole load of rubbish, I’d never go down that route. I specialise in menswear from specific eras and would never get the quality that I’m looking for to keep my customers satisfied,” says Paul
Davies, owner of men’s outfitter Crazy Man Crazy, London. While many traders believe bulk buying is not for them, it’s also clear that vintage wholesaling comes in many different guises. The ‘kilo’ tag may be a fruitful marketing ploy to attract traders and consumers but for some large-scale European wholesalers the emphasis of their offer is on quality, service and
You get what you pay for but it’s not great quality
Rerags Vintage Wholesale
The fact that speakeasies are secret creates an interesting dilemma in marketing terms – how do you promote something that nobody is meant to know anything about? Scaredy Cat Town is a private bar hidden behind a fridge door in The Breakfast Club, in Spitalfields, London. Bar manager Kate Jackson says: “We’ve never claimed to be a speakeasy, but it’s a label that’s become attached to us. It doesn’t do us any harm. We only advertise through social media.” Evans & Peel uses social media effectively to promote its business, with chef Michael Harrison tweeting under the pseudonym of detective Peel. “I tweet about the food and drinks, always keeping within the theme while trying to remain fairly cryptic,” he says. “I’ve pretended to ‘discover’ new recipes and ingredients in the Evans & Peel vaults which then go on the menu that week.” The concept of secrecy creates an air of exclusivity that can be very effective. It has also been picked up by non-vintage businesses such as Manchester’s Black Dog Ballroom. Black Dog operates over four sites and is planning to open another next month. All contain a secret ‘speakeasy’. Marketing director Tom McGarva says: “Our speakeasies are not secret as such, but they are hidden away so that only regulars can access them with membership. While we’re not snooty at
he increasing popularity of vintage goods and the lifestyle it brings has made the search for quality stock more competitive, expensive and time-consuming. Kilo markets have tried to make it more affordable for shops to source products. They offer pre-sorted bags of clothing priced by weight (kilos) rather than by the quality or number of items. Prices vary with each company but the service they offer remains the same. Kilo buying has been used to help vintage store Retrobates build its clothing range. Owner Deborah Efemini says: “We use kilo wholesalers to fill out the racks but we don’t rely on them for all our items. You want 40 per cent of your stock to consist of kilo items as they sell regularly, quickly and will put money in your pocket.” Despite companies having the opportunity to gather large quantities of clothing quickly, some established retailers remain sceptical of the process. They feel it removes the importance of aesthetics, focussing on relationships and personal interaction, instead of the actual products on offer. Though they do offer opportunities to build up stock quickly and cheaply, the
A wholesale approach can build stock cheaply and quickly
Rerags gives its customers what they want
Retrobates Vintage Clothing
he door gives nothing away. You’re buzzed inside. A woman behind a desk greets you, dressed as if she’s stepped straight out of the 1920s. You’re interrogated, asked for details of your ‘case’. “Are you nervous, sir?” she says. “You seem to be uncomfortable.” More questions follow. You sweat as she walks to the bookcase lining the wall beside you, reaching to pull it back and reveal an authentic Prohibition-era bar. So begins an evening at Evans & Peel Detective Agency, the Earl’s Court, London venue that has added an element of theatre unseen anywhere else. This experience is part of a growing trend as bar owners and managers move underground to open period-themed speakeasies: the secret basement bars that originally sprang up after alcohol was banned in the US in the 1920s. All have found it is a way to set them apart from the crowd and boost business. Evans & Peel general manager Vincent Williams explains: “Our founder Chris Peel devised the concept. He found the space, which was advertised as a basement venue. As he stripped back the walls he found features which lent themselves to a 1920s theme.” Bart’s, in central London, took inspiration from more modern subterranean bars in New York, combining it with the period theme to become one of the first authentic capital speakeasies.
Kilo Markets 15
www.vintagebusiness.co.uk The Vintage Wholesale Company
Retrobates uses kilo stock to fill its rails
how they trawl the world for the latest vintage specialities. Barnsley-based Glass Onion, for example, highlights its flexibilty selling in large bales, 25kg bags, half bags or per piece, while Netherlands-based Rerags Vintage Clothing Wholesale will pack any way its customers want. Whatever the offer, bulk buying is an intrinsic part of today’s vintage industry. And like many mass market solutions, it may not be considered in keeping with the sector’s ethos, but it provides a vital service. ■
Lost Property of London
FINANCIAL HELP • Start-up Loans Scheme: Provides advice and start-up finance (around £2,500) for 18 to 30 year olds who want to start their own business startuploans.co.uk • Business Finance Partnership (BFP): Business access to non-bank finance bis.gov.uk • Enterprise Capital Funds: Provides venture capital investment for early-stage innovative SMEs capitalforenterprise.gov.uk • Business Angel Co-Investment Fund: Works with syndicates of business angels interested in SME investment angelcofund.co.uk • Growth Accelerator: Gives SMEs coaches, focused growth plans, masterclasses, networking and peer-to-peer support growthaccelerator.com •New Enterprise Allowance: Helps unemployed people start a business capitalise.org • Mentoring Portal: Government initiative connects small businesses with mentoring organisations. There are 27,000 mentors available mentorsme.co.uk • Enterprise Agencies: Information on available enterprises around the country nationalenterprisenetwork.org • Community Development Finance Association: Information on alternative loans cdfa.org.uk
UK Trade & Investment helped Lost Property of London founder Katy Bell find success abroad with her upcycled bags made from old coffee sacks and vintage fabrics
Finding angels for hard-to-get funding
Loan schemes and start-up mentors are re-energising small businesses that have been struggling to gain financial backing. Tom Kenning reports on how vintage companies have benefited from initial grants and much-needed strategic support or established businesses, which are unable to access bank finance but looking to grow. The Start-up Loans Scheme, spearheaded by former Dragons’ Den investor James Caan, gave The Cornwall Camper Company co-founder and director Jessica Ratty a £5,000 loan. Her company sources vintage VW Campervan parts and renovates them to original condition for trading in the tourism sector. Ratty says: “The loans scheme has had a transformational impact on our business. It enabled us to have a cash flow in an incredibly short period of time. It gave us credibility, because people notice you’re out there trying to get help and they see that others believe in you.”
anks used to be the first port of call for financing, but it’s well documented that getting a penny out of them is virtually impossible. Small businesses now have to look elsewhere. There are a range of schemes committed to start-up and entrepreneurial success. To gain their backing, a tight business plan is essential. Let’s Do Business Group chief executive Graham Marley says: “For business support, enterprise agencies are a good place to start as they will either provide direct advice and support or signpost to locally available help.” Marley runs a community development finance institution. This provides loans to new business ventures
That’s enough to get you off the ground
Cornwall Camper Company aided by the Start-up Loans Scheme
• For quality crowdfunding sites go to Kickstarter, Seedrs or Crowdcube. The latter is increasingly popular in the UK • A good pitch is where it all starts. You have to make your audience care. The environmentally friendly aspect of vintage is a compelling reason for funding • To make the most impact, you’ll need catchy pictures • Having a video is increasingly important. It gives potential funders another angle on your idea • Offer perks for donations. For example: “If you give £10, we’ll give you our thanks. £20 and we’ll give you food on each visit to our shop. £40 and we’ll give you a book” • Take a proactive approach. Send out emails to friends, fans and family to get the ball rolling •Make it playful and interactive and you’ll find success
Emily Dupen-Hopkins was given a grant to build a website by Shell Livewire
The company started in December and is already taking bookings for 2014. The loan scheme provided financial help, polished its business plan and assigned a long-term mentor. Ratty adds: “There’s a lot of criticism about start-up loans being handed out to young businesspeople without sufficient backing, but it’s not like that. You have to have a good mentor and a thorough business plan.” Competitions can provide unique shortcuts to financial backing. Vintage homewares company Dupenny was mentored by Shell Livewire after winning its Grand Ideas Award. Shell offers free online business advice and start-up awards of up to £10,000 for young entrepreneurs aged 16 to 30. Dupenny founder Emily DupenHopkins says: “I was given a grant toward building a fresh website as well as community backing. I also started getting emails from Shell’s web designers, which really helped.” When starting a business from scratch, finding an outlet for your service can be the biggest barrier to success. Startup Britain specialises in breaking through this barrier by providing a platform for businesses to spread their message. Co-founder Liz Slee says: “We gave Milla and Arti, a vintage craft business, the chance to come offline for two weeks and experience a real high street presence in our pop-up shops.” If applicants supply a proper business plan, Startup Britain provides free marketing, assigns a mentor and helps to set up a five-year plan. Seminars are offered on crowdfunding and gaining venture capitalist interest. Slee adds: “Our average loan is £3,000. That’s enough to get you off the ground as a small business. For us to finance large
stocks, businesses have to negotiate with us and prove they are worth it.” With banks failing to reach their lending targets, other sources of funding have become popular. With such a range of platforms to help vintage businesses grow, it’s important to arrive with a tight business plan and a clear vision of the future to help your company stand out. ■
Export in Japan Once a business has been established, there may be scope for worldwide exports. The government’s UKTI uses its presence in 96 countries to offer global knowledge for local business. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills provides bespoke market intelligence and takes British companies to selected trade fairs. It also helps with overseas regulations and business practice. Lost Property of London founder Katy Bell (pictured left) started out by recycling hessian bags from coffee roasting houses and lining them with vintage fabric. With the help of UKTI, she went to Japan to attend a trade show, which was specifically chosen for her. She took the show by storm. Bell says: “Japanese businesspeople told me that the stamp of ‘Made in London’ and ‘recycled’ is a phenomenal marketing opportunity in Asia.” Her collection became available in Japanese clothing stores including Takayashima, Baycrews and Danjo. The ethical credentials of UK vintage products clearly have power in foreign markets, so finding an authority on exporting can be crucial for optimising your success.
www.vintagebusiness.co.uk Dan Thompson / Revolutionary Arts
A collective movement: how a traditional trend attracts traders Ed Doyle observes the cross-generational allure of the vintage vehicle rally and its benefits for retailers
steam engines for exhibition. In order to preserve the rally’s emphasis on vintage, Hamer has established a decisive cut-off point of 1978. “If you look at a coach from 1983 it looks almost like a modern coach. They haven’t changed much in design over the last 30 years, but before that they looked old and unique. They had half-cabs and engines at the front,” he says. Slightly more flexible in this regard is the annual Anglesey Vintage Rally. Moving into the Anglesey Showground with a war cry of ‘new name, new venue’ for its 35th year, the rally has renamed itself Anglesey Festival of Transport and Machinery. This Vintage sellers gain from the popularity of steam engines aims to encourage new, albeit unique, attracted loads of people simply because items from the modern era to be it was from an unknown world,” says Kelly. exhibited and traded. It’s this experience of inhabiting a fullAnglesey Vintage Equipment Society scale vintage world, as opposed to simply chairman Alan Kelly is adamant that the wearing the clothes, that draws families rally will not stray from vintage, because Interest in back each year. The vehicles themselves its future is assured in the hands of the are the centrepieces. They are the star current generation. “I see it enhancing relics of attraction, the sun around which all every year. People get involved with a simpler trades, crafts and activities rotate. modern vehicles, so these in time will time Vintage traders benefit from the tens become the collectable vintage of their of thousands in attendance at these rallies period,” he says. “People will always by applying for space to sell their goods. collect things because it’s human nature. The revellers come for the machines It’s something they will do unconsciously.” and stay to peruse the wares on show, Vintage vehicle rallies typically ranging from clothing to old firemen’s complement farming machines with helmets to matchbox collections. activities like wood-turning and ploughing. The modern vintage rally is a growing Cumbria Steam Gathering sees its phenomenon. Undeterred by the attendees compete in vintage ploughing recession, communities nationwide have matches, a skill Foster assures is “quite convened with all resources available an art”, requiring knowledge, reliable to them, providing a place where equipment and attention to detail. The organisers and collectors, enthusiasts demonstrations’ popularity belies a public and newcomers, young and old, traders curiosity for the old working method. and consumers can all indulge in an Stone-crushing is an activity that, immersive vintage experience. Friendships although a fairly recent phenomenon in and business relationships alike are Anglesey, seems to be going down well. formed, so that this world may sustain “We did it for the first time last year and itself for decades to come. ■
reat machines advance into a vast field as the sun emerges. A sea of excited faces follows in their tread. Some of their smiles are aged, some a few years young. What brings them en masse to the same expanse is a shared interest in relics of a simpler time. A chance to see, feel and experience an age of vintage in motion. Collectors nationwide travel to Cark Airfield, home of Cumbria Steam Gathering since 1986. They bring with them vintage cars, stationary engines and farming machinery. Veteran enthusiasts come together to display prize vehicular possessions, as children frolic on vintage fairground rides and traders show off their range of clothing and accessories. “The philosophy right from the very outset was that we would provide somewhere for people to display things that were old and interesting,” says treasurer David Foster. “We think it’s important these things are preserved, to remind us of a time gone by.” But the rules of preservation have changed. On November 2012, a new law decreed that vehicles manufactured before 1963 no longer required an MOT. Will Hamer is determined to fulfil his obligations, though. He owns Cumbria Classic Coaches, a vintage public service bus company operating routes throughout the county. They are also hired for corporate events and weddings. Additionally, he works with Eden Classic Vehicle Group to organise the Classic Commercial Vehicle Rally. Now in its 15th year, it runs across Kirkby Stephen and Brough each Easter. Working from a database of 450 classic vehicle owners, Hamer is able to assemble a veritable range of old wagons, fire engines and
There are many innovative ways and opportunites to fill shops, but some high streets remain derelict
Pop-ups no match for UK property problems They’re hailed as the saviour of small businesses, but are short-term lets just another half-hearted measure to stop the rot? Becky Roberts investigates
op-ups can help small businesses that struggle to finance their commercial property. Rent is paid weekly and is a lot cheaper than the standard rate which, in the last year, has increased by 27 per cent to £15.67 per sq ft. Despite the term being coined nearly ten years ago, the concept is still considered an emerging, cutting-edge craze. So why aren’t small businesses operating in them? Simply, they can’t get hold of sites. Many landlords only advertise for longterm leases. For short-term leases there can be up to 12 lots of paperwork a year, but if they can get away with filling out one, they will. So finding temporary leases for small companies to set up shop is an issue. Communities secretary Eric Pickles has announced government proposals to relax planning leases that make it hard for small businesses to temporarily use empty shops. Now the average cost for
property owners to change the use of their shop is £1,200. Changes will allow landlords to do this for free for two years. Pickles thinks this deregulation will make pop-ups more appealing, as they will be more able to meet expenses. It needs to work both ways, says a London commercial property landlord who does not wish to be named. Many landlords are wary of revealing their identities, as they know they are being accused of preventing the movement from working. “It has to be fair to everyone,” he says. Minister of state for housing Mark Prisk agrees: “What we need is a simple, boiled-down approach for landlords.” Specialist pop-up schemes are also in place to highlight benefits for property owners, acting as the middle-man to make deals between landlords and tenants. We Are Pop Up is one of these firms. Its main concern is making the process
We need a simple, boileddown approach
of sourcing tenants faster and easier for landlords. “We provide online profiles for any size business. They can search through our portfolio and see everything they want to know about the business in one space,” says co-founder Mike Salter. Dan Thompson, founder of The Empty Shops Network, has an interesting recession strategy. “We send them photos of their empty shop fronts and ask them if they know how their shop looks on the street,” he says. Director of Pop Up Space Rosie Cann thinks that more landlords will come onboard due to the current economic climate. “With the recession, they are faced with long void periods so they are more inclined to compromise,” she says. Pop-ups fill a void in a landlord’s portfolio which boost their ratings as a developer. People are made aware of a shop’s existence when it’s occupied, especially if it has been empty for so long. Salter adds: “It brings new footfall by bringing brands and businesses into the area.” But even Cann admits that this is not a solid solution. “You need to have negotiation skills. It can take years to bank deals,” she says. We Are Pop Up, for example, makes on average five to ten deals per month. The reality is that pop-up platforms like this still have a long path ahead of them to prove that their models work. Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson says: “It’s interesting to increasingly come across more innovative ideas to how we can tackle vacant units.” But none of these are making a significant impact. Though government initiatives are starting to make pop-ups more appealing to property owners, these are chipping away at the tip of the iceberg. Proposals are just part of a wider scheme to get rid of vacant spaces, rather than to help retail business. The truth is, pop-ups will not take off at full speed until landlords are duty-bound to fill their units when they’ve been empty for a certain length of time. Unfortunately for now, small business owners will have to hold tight to get a home for their trade. ■
THE FORENSIC SITE SEARCH Ronke Sashola is about to open her third vintage clothing pop-up shop, Love Ur Look. She has drained every source to find property and knows how hard it is. “I have to research a lot and sign up to countless blogs and newsletters for listings from companies and councils. I’ve done all the work to get the spaces – I wish it came to me,” she says. Although Sashola has managed to find space, the reality is that not everyone has the same determination.“It’s frustrating that landlords can’t afford to be more flexible,” she says.
www.vintagebusiness.co.uk Sam Strong
Defining a clear description for a profitable future
VINTAGE DOESN’T NEED A DEFINITION Avi Jeremy
Various sellers will use ‘vintage’ to their own advantage. Jordan Chamberlain investigates whether true traders are being alienated by the misrepresentation of the term
solely blame the high street, because vintage clothes are in fashion right now.” But the trendiness of vintage may be one of the problems. Leading high street chains like Primark and Topshop, plus online giant Asos, now sell mock vintage ranges. Urban Outfitters describes its range as ‘reworking old items, and carefully selecting unique products from around the globe’. Notice the lack of definition and any stated timeframe. Cambridge’s Jemporium Vintage is getting increased attention because of this high street trend. “More people are being drawn into our shop,” says owner Jenny Kirk. Vintage Skin Clothing in Camden, London, displays a large vintage sign outside its entrance. The shop sells a variety of merchandise and clothing, including a Gangnam Style T-shirt range. Even to the least fussy eye, the misuse of the term here is obvious. Pat Tilly, vintage pop-up store holder, is saddened but realistic about the issue.
Jeremy follows the latest trends Jenny Kirk
he definition of vintage clothing is subjective. While some businesses stick strictly to a 1920s to 1980s time range, others will use the term far more loosely. Maxine Stonehill, owner of Vintage Pop Up Fairs, says: “We feel that the stores doing this are not a true reflection of the vintage market. They are merely cashing in on the term.” Zoe Eve, stylist for Chicotopia, agrees. She says: “Vintage should describe something that’s especially distinctive of its era.” The reality, however, is that the term is used to drive profits rather than as a statement of age and fashion. Iconic Nottingham store Vintage Warehouse closed down on 4 January, 2013. Its yellow doors shut, and its stock was auctioned to local charity shops. Vintage Warehouse joint owner Sam Strong says: “I don’t know exactly why [we had to close down], we just couldn’t afford it anymore. I don’t think you can
“Young people don’t care about whether it’s real,” says Vintage Skin Clothing owner Avi Jeremy. “They just want to follow the latest trends. As long as not everyone has it – it’s vintage. Vintage is a word we just use now to mean ‘retro’ or stylish. Our stuff is still different to the clothes you get on some high streets. Everywhere in Camden has a vintage sign outside the front. We never claim the items are 50 years old. It’s a word that describes a style so we’re not misleading anyone. If anyone actually thinks that our printed T-shirts or jumpers are old then that’s their problem. It’s my shop, so I can call it what I want. If I didn’t, tourists who come to Camden would think my shop is somehow different to the others.”
Sellers can’t even age their items correctly
Nottingham’s Vintage Warehouse opening its garage doors before this year’s closure. The owners didn’t know if the high street was to blame
HOW AUTHENTICITY CAN BEAT FAUX VINTAGE Janine Rudkin
“Vintage is anything over 20-years-old (the Etsy seller in me says that!),” says Lesley’s Girl’s Vintage co-founder Janine Rudkin. “It’s an easy bandwagon to jump on, because it is popular. The problem is that everything is strapped purely for the ability to sell. The amount of vintage-themed items in shops at the moment is worrying, and you get the sense they are cashing in. It could saturate the market to its detriment. It’s not just high street stores though – small pubs put on vintage fairs where they only sell second hand clothes. It’s unfair. But I don’t know if regulation could work because it’s so hard to age clothes. People make genuine mistakes, although more and more are dishonest. Having said that, I think that vintage-inspired items can be really great and fabulous quality and can be good for the industry. To me it depends on the seller’s intentions – if they are genuinely interested in vintage and create a reproduction then it’s great. If it’s purely cashing in, then it gets dangerous. Those selling vintage-inspired products with a real interest and belief in them will stick around. Once the vintage bubble bursts on the high street, those who are cashing in on the act will move on to something different. I hope there will always be genuine vintage lovers and sellers and that is Rudkin says it’s unfair what will be left.”
“We are less snobby about vintage clothes now. The problem is that the older something gets, the harder it becomes to define it,” she says. To the true vintage connoisseur, however, the vague use of the term will not persuade them of an item’s authenticity. Elaine Bernstein, vintage fair stallholder, thinks that the trend of mock vintage has actually benefited the business. “Vintage stores are thriving because of the reproduction. The divide between what is real and what isn’t is clear. People are willing to pay extra for the very best,” she says. Stonehill agrees: “True fans of vintage will always seek out original good quality clothing from the more well-known fairs and shops.” Of course, though, there are cases where the ambiguity creates tension and problems. Emma Mason, a veteran vintage supplier, used to sell at Portobello
Road Market, but believes she has been forced out by the misrepresentation of vintage clothing.“Sellers can’t even age their own items correctly now. There is nothing to stop a seller putting a 1940s label on a 1970s product, because a customer will still buy it,” she says. Mason now runs her stall at more specialist fairs. Walking round Hammersmith Vintage Fair you see a selection of clothes that range strictly from the 1920s to the 1980s. But pieces with designer labels, like Christian Dior for example, could be as new as early 21st century. Even within a bastion of authenticity, vintage is still subjective. According to some, the ambiguity of the term stems from a lack of trends in the sector. Richard Goodwin, owner of Follow The Trend, says: “It is just totally random what I sell. Today my best seller has been 1960s Marks & Spencer, but
another day it could be anything.” To many, this randomness typifies the beauty of vintage, and therefore the difficulty in defining it. Goodwin did admit, though, to trying to match his stock with current high street trends, so perhaps the definition is lost even on him. What is clear is that while most authentic stallholders will have similar definitions, their offence taken to the misuse of the term is more varied. While it’s important to be flexible, it’s equally important to differentiate genuine vintage from the mass-produced high street. It would be a huge shame if more iconic stores such as Nottingham’s Vintage Warehouse closed down because of the overuse of the term. Many feel the disparity is hurting the vintage market, but where is the crusade to protect its meaning? Maybe we just need more words. ■
Jemporium Vintage is thriving as a result of the trend
Trade in the UK’s vintage capital Sewing seeds of variety
Cox & Baloney
Sophie Gore Browne finds out how diversification can keep you ahead of the game
Customers flock to Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair at Old Spitalfields Market, while the stalls stand ready for action in Portobello
The big smoke is regarded as a global fashion centre, with traders continuing to pour into the already overcrowded market. Francesca Rice investigates the perks and pitfalls of setting up shop there
People love your pieces and pay more in London
monthly sale in London in February. “We chose Hackney very carefully because vintage is big there,” he says. Despite the size of the vintage scene, some London sellers have struggled recently. Nick and Jill Barron closed their shop, Butterfly Girl Vintage, in 2010, citing high rental prices. “Renting a shop in central London costs more than anywhere else in the UK,” explains Dodd. This is perhaps the biggest disadvantage of trading in London, although prices are also high in other big cities. “Costs are much lower in smaller towns,” he adds. Eaton acknowledges that London rental prices are high but believes that traders can overcome this with the right pricing. Barron still sells in London through markets and fairs, recognising the opportunity there. There is always somewhere to sell in the capital. “In London, there are at least two vintage fairs every weekend, as well as the markets. Elsewhere, fairs are much less common,” explains Charlotte Smith, owner of Winchester Vintage. There can be disadvantages to this, however. “There is definitely more competition because there is so much choice in London,” she adds. It can be worthwhile trading at regional fairs because customers are often more eager to buy. “Fairs don’t come around as often so people are swayed by the novelty factor,” explains Barron. However, it is important to recognise that fairs outside London are rarely as big. Stall fees are usually much cheaper though. “The best London fairs cost over
£100, whereas regional fairs, such as Guildford’s Lace & Tweed, are a third of the price,” says Smith. There are also long waiting lists to get into the big London fairs. Demand is so high for Frock Me that organisers have stopped adding traders to the list. The big London fairs do attract a desirable clientele, though. “We get a passionate crowd, which really understands vintage,” explains Hammersmith Vintage Fashion Fair founder Alberto Ricca. Traders agree that London shoppers are generally more discerning. “People really appreciate your pieces and are prepared to pay more,” adds seller Samaya Ling. Trading at London’s regular markets can be good value. Por tobello Road Market assistant Chloe Sernie says: “Fridays only cost £22 and you are guaranteed to get a large crowd of customers who love vintage.” But regional traders need to consider the costs involved in transpor ting their stock. Vintage sellers agree that trading in London has its ups and downs. “It’s swings and roundabouts,” says Barron. “You get a higher footfall and more knowledgeable customers, but the higher costs mean that you need to sell more,” he adds. Traders must therefore weigh up the pros and cons before coming to London. You need to be confident that your stock is high quality before trying to break into the scene. “Traders with unremarkable stock are the ones who won’t succeed in London,” says Barron. It seems you can do well in the capital if you have great pieces. “I’ve been trading here for 20 years and, no matter what, quality pieces sell,” concludes Eaton. ■
Cox & Baloney took on the next door space to host parties in the tearoom, and is launching a new tea label this year
Housing an alterations and repairs service was not planned at all, according to Cox. They would often recommend a seamstress friend to customers, but when these referrals became frequent enough it made sense for her to move Put your into the space downstairs. “There was a high volume of demand for alterations, personal as vintage clothes only come in one size,” twist on says Cox. trends Twentythree, a sewing service specialising in vintage-inspired dressmaking workshops, now occupies the space. Interior designer Juliet Seldon also offers upholstering and refurbishing workshops downstairs. Available space is needed, whether it’s for services, workshops or events. Co-owner Joney Lyons says: “Space is good. It gave us room to grow but even if you have very little space you can still be really creative with it.” To begin with, Cox & Baloney had a small tearoom and a second hand bookseller in the front of its shop. Then the space next door became available, enabling it to expand. “As a small tearoom it made nothing but with more physical space we are able to host vintage-themed hen-dos, baby showers and birthday parties,” says Cox. Although Cox & Baloney has established a hive of vintage activity, Cox and Lyons are still looking for ways to grow that don’t require more space. Cox & Baloney’s clothes collection specialises in 1940s to 1950s dresses “We’ll definitely keep changing over the Cox & Baloney
ondon holds an unparalleled number of vintage shops, fairs and markets, and is at the centre of the British fashion industry. “It’s the UK’s vintage capital,” says shopowner David Eaton. Retromania manager Kristian Hughes believes that London’s vintage industry is prominent because of the student population. “The scene is huge because the big fashion schools are based there,” he says. Despite the size of the sector and the amount of competition, vintage traders are still pouring into the capital. They can usually get higher prices for their pieces there. As Hughes notes: “In the North, a vintage shirt that would sell for £30 in London would go for £10.” Certain areas of the capital, including Shoreditch, Camden and Hackney, have become vintage hubs. Traders have succeeded by selling near one another. “We see something called ‘the clustering effect’ in the retail clothing market. Shops will succeed if there are similar businesses nearby,” explains British Retail Consortium head of media and campaigns Richard Dodd. Eaton has witnessed this first-hand. His shop, The Last Place On Earth, is in Portobello, a major vintage area. “We’ve seen the positive effects of being around other vintage businesses,” he says. If you are planning to break into the London scene, it is clearly important to trade in the main vintage hubs. To Be Worn Again manager Mark Bellaera agrees that location is key. The Brighton-based business launched a
ou’ve moved from a market stall to a permanent shop. What next? An obvious answer is to go online where the shop floor is unlimited, but some are making a more lateral move. Tique Booty, a new vintage shop in the Brixton Arcade, wants to make the most of what it can offer its customers. Co-owners Dom John and Rich Caraffi are currently renovating the second floor to include a sewing workshop. The idea came from identifying customer demand for clothing alterations. According to John, five to ten sales are lost on average each week due to customers needing alterations. This can create an annual loss of up to £10,000. In Bristol, Cox & Baloney appears to be three years ahead of Tique Booty. Originally a vintage shop with a small tearoom when it opened in 2009, it now houses two sewing and interior design businesses downstairs. Offering complementary services under one roof has expanded its customer base. Co-owner Amy Cox says: “ We had the space, so we thought why not make some money off the rent? It is becoming busier and busier.”
years. You’ve got to look at what party scenes are going on and put your own personal twist on the vintage trends of the moment,” says Cox. The latest plan is to produce an in-house tea label, which they hope to officially launch this year. Another way to diversify without relying on more space is to simply hand over the reigns to your customers and change accordingly. Dapper Boutique owner Paul Smith has let his vintage clothes shop gradually transform into a vintage burlesque-style hair salon. “It was organic. My roommate was a hairstylist and he began coming in to do people’s hair in the back. Then we had to move it into the front as it became more popular,” he says. The hair salon now makes up 80 per cent of the business and offers vintage hairstyles like the beehive and the1920s finger wave. Tique Booty has no intention of putting its sewing workshop on the ground floor yet, but if it takes off the owners may not have a choice. It seems decisions like this naturally evolve as routes to market present themselves. As many other small businesses have found, it is hard to foresee how the set up will change in the coming years. One thing is certain though: it will happen. “You have to do more than one thing in the end,” says Lyons. “It would be nice to stick to what you set out to do, but if you aren’t open to change, you might be shutting down in six months.” ■
24 People in the News
Painted Black: portrait of success It is always tough setting up a new company. Amelia Dillingham talks to Matt Scott about how to find the right property, unusual marketing techniques and getting customers to come back again and again
Owner Amelia Dillingham with the shop dog and marketing tactic, Rose, in her award winning vintage store in North London
hreatening to kill your pet to attract customers may seem barking mad, but former gardener Amelia Dillingham has sown the seeds of success brilliantly. In her first 12 months of trading, Painted Black has been turning profit and winning awards. Named in Time Out’s Top 50 Coolest Vintage Shops in London and Top 500 London Shops, Painted Black was also crowned ‘Best New Vintage Shop’ by Vintage Guide to London. Dillingham says that one of the defining factors in her success was taking her time to choose the right property. Her shop is located in Crouch End, North London, where she says “prices are ridiculous”. Despite this, Dillingham knew it was perfect for her vintage shop. She waited, saving money from her job as a gardener until a suitable and affordable property became available. In the end she enquired about a vacant site just off the main street owned by Haringey Council. As it was council run, the rent was set at a lower price than those owned by private landlords, who often charge a premium above the standard market rate. As a start-up she received a rent-free period to help her settle in. Haringey Council’s property manager Shenaz
Begum says: “Tenants can get up to three months rent-free if the property needs doing up and is not fit for trading.” It is negotiated by the tenant and is intended to be an incentive to encourage small businesses to take up vacant councilowned properties. Haringey Council also has an agreement that competing businesses cannot be opened in the same area. This means that Painted Black will be the only vintage shop on the street. Dillingham says this is helpful in limiting competitors, but also understands that there are drawbacks. She thinks vintage begets vintage. “Having other shops in the area may have helped attract even more customers to the shop,” she says. Dillingham received the keys to Painted Black in December 2011 and a month later opened the doors. As a new business she realised that she needed to attract customers, and then keep them coming back. Her first strategy was a clever marketing ploy. Dillingham says: “I put up a flyer with a photo of my dog looking very sad saying ‘Come to Painted Black or Rose the shop dog gets it’.” The move was a triumph, and customers started coming in to have a look around and see if Rose was still barking fit.
Come to Painted Black or the shop dog gets it
The flyers were complemented by an active social media campaign. With a growing following on Twitter, Dillingham mixes business related stories with a few of her own more personal comments. Whether she tweets the details of new stock, her trials with tax returns or an update on how Rose is doing, they are all intended to interest her followers. Dillingham also realised that once she drew customers into the shop she needed to build a community. She started events to create a feel-good image around the shop. These included charity raffles, Halloween parties and gigs. Not only did this allow people to come and have fun, it also meant that people could view her goods as they enjoyed the event – another marketing opportunity. It is this approach, along with the quality of the items for sale, that led to Vintage Guide to London describing Painted Black as: ‘A very impressive addition to the London vintage scene!’ As Painted Black embarks upon its second year of trading, Dillingham is continuing to lay the foundations for an even more successful and efficient operation. Through patience, clever marketing and diversification she is ensuring that customers get exactly what they want. ■