Founded by Simon Young and Jenny Vaughan in 2003 in Corbridge, Northumberland, their idea was to sell "found objects" for the home. They made a list: rescued, restored, recycled and so on and RE was born. Today, around half the stock in store is still second-hand (and around a third on the website). We spoke to Simon and Jenny to find out the secret of their success:
You sell an amazingly wide range of goods at RE – could you attempt to describe what RE offers in just a few sentences?
We sell anything that corresponds with our idea of what's beautiful, not precious or prescriptive, differentiating ourselves by offering the unexpected in unusual combinations, making us unique. If you need a plaster Virgin Mary and a bottle of the best bubble bath in the world this is the place!
We love utility, both old and new, small runs and mass production alike. We also sell cared-for second hand pieces, like garden tools, lighting, textiles and furniture, because they are functional and still work. We also have recycled and fair trade products and our own exclusive range designed in house: 'REgd'.
I have a budget of £30 for each and want to buy great gifts for: i) my best (female) friend's birthday; ii) Fathers Day; and iii) my husband for our anniversary. What would you recommend from RE?
Best friend's birthday - vintage brandy glass vase with Forever tattoo or an old cake stand (from £12.00) and fabulous whoopie cakes!
Father's day - second hand leather tape (£30.00), level from (£16.50) and/or rule (£12.00) and a vintage Gardener's Chronicle paper from the 1930's
Husband's anniversary - large rusty letters spelling out LOVE (£5.00 each)
You have just launched a pop-up store at Liberty in London – how did that come about?
We are really excited about the pop-up in Liberty - it opened on 6th April for four months and was Michelle Alger's idea. She is the head homeware buyer at Liberty, who had seen our work and liked it.
Which items from the shop do you have in your own home?
Loads of things - second hand glassware, tea towels, plates, cushions as well as lots of things picked up for ourselves whilst scouring flea markets for the store.
Which are your current favourite products?
Iles Britannique tea towel, recycled plastic bowls & buckets from Senegal set of 6 plates that form a skeleton.
Why should our readers shop at RE?
Because it's the best shop in the world! And we have just won the Homes & Gardens Retailer of the Year 2011 award last week!
To see more, visit www.re-foundobjects.com