There's nothing I like more than finding a great new vintage shop, so I was delighted to find The Peanut Vendor just around the corner from where I used to live. Having only ever seen it with the shutters down I'd rather naively assumed that it sold, er, peanuts and things - but no - far more usefully it sells a great selection of vintage pieces, lovingly sourced by owners Barny and Becky Read.
How would you describe The Peanut Vendor to someone who'd never been in?
We're a furniture shop in North London full to the brim with unusual vintage, industrial and antique pieces. From the very small to the very big, we've got all sorts of genuinely old items that will add beautiful interest and individuality to a home.
I have to ask about the name...
It's pretty hard to name a shop and we knew we didn't want to have a name that was furniture or period related or in any way a cliché. We wanted the name to draw interest so that people came in and checked us out online. The Peanut Vendor is an upbeat 1930s Cuban piece of music that has been covered by so many people. We found it in our record collection and just kept on going back to it until we decided that that daft name, was the one for us.
What did you do work wise before you opened the shop?
Well I worked in the music industry as a press officer and Barnaby worked in fashion marketing. We've both always wanted to work in a creative industry. Neither of us went to uni so we spent the early part of our twenties working in London and figuring out what worked for us job wise. It's fair to say that we've both always been obsessed by all things vintage. Collecting records, clothing, furniture.... everything old or in the past always seems more beautiful and stylish. When we got together and eventually decided to open The Peanut Vendor we knew we'd be working it out a bit as we went along. Ultimately though we know what we like, that we wanted to work for ourselves and we wanted to be doing something creative and this seemed like the best idea. Thankfully, two and a half years on it still seems to be working!
Where do you find all of the treasures you sell in the shop?
We go all over the country once a week to auctions or fairs. A lot of our stuff comes from europe and we have some great dealers that we use for that. If we're away for a weekend or on holiday we'll always check out the nearest antique shops or warehouses just incase there's something special. We're basically always looking, but that's the best part of the job.
What would be your dream find on a buying trip?
Our idea of something really special is something very very unique that no-one else has. In the past it's the more bizarre pieces that have really excited us but we could have never planned them or put them on our shopping list. Put it this way, it's not going to be a design classic sofa or a famous mid-century lamp.
Do you sometimes source things that you can't bear to part with and take them home instead? (I would!)
Everything you see in the shop! Seriously, we buy the things we buy because we love them and we would have them in our home. I'd love to say that we took loads home but frankly running a business is so terrifying that you just can't do that. Our home has a lot of the broken rejects, there are beautiful chairs that you're not allowed to sit on, lamps and clocks that don't work etc. Plus, when we're really in love with a piece we want to show it off to all our customers.
Does The Peanut Vendor have any such thing as a 'typical' customer?
Absolutely not. We have the young design savvy crowd, the older design savvy crowd, people that love our stuff because it's so nostalgic for them, cafés, shops and theatres.
Which pieces always fly out the door?
Storage, but I think that's a London lack-of-space thing. Taxidermy doesn't hang around very long either, especially butterflies.
Does your own home reflect the style of the shop?
Yes it does, although it would be great to be able to refresh it as regularly as we do the shop. When we moved into our unfurnished flat we had nothing and now we can safely say that everything, from our pots and pans to our sofas, is vintage.
Which other homeware shops/sites do you like?
So many people - obviously the likes of Conran and Heal's inspire us but we love the simplicity of Labour and Wait and we went to a wedding last month at Lassco and that place is incredible!
What else do people need to know about The Peanut Vendor?
Our stock turns over so quickly and there's only one of everything so we highly recommend that people sign up to our weekly email which lists our new items so that they don't miss out!
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