A stunning new glass-fronted beauty has opened its door on Nottingham’s Derby Road. The arrival of the eye-catching vintage emporium Happy Sunday Vintage is another addition to the exciting independents in the area including Little Brickhouse, Little Plant Guys, the Danish Homestore and The Lime Gallery, to name a few. After staying vacant for many years, the iconic building (which many around the city will recognise as the old Ben Bowers restaurant) has been transformed into a technicolour, rummagers’ dream of vintage clothing, rare antique finds, one-of-a-kind mid-century furniture and homeware. Addie Kenogbon caught up with Happy Sunday co-owners, Bryony Selway and Mihnea Georgescu, and their ‘pawsernal’ assistant, Stevie the dog, to find out more about their new venture.
I love the name of the shop. What was the inspiration behind it?
Bryony: I was unsure for so long about the name. I wanted the shop to feel like a happy Sunday. Sundays to me feel cosy and warm, and I'd like to think we've captured that here. The name gives you a real sense of that Sunday feeling. So, it just fit perfectly.
Is this your first store or did you have another presence in the city before?
Bryony: We both individually had shops down in Hopkinson, where Mihnea was selling militaria and antiques and I was focusing more on clothes, and we decided to combine our strengths to create Happy Sunday.
Mihnea: We both focus on different aspects of the business and it works really well. Bryony is in charge of fashion, clothes, colour and art, while I tend to focus more on antique items like furniture, ceramics, and homeware.
Everywhere I look, there’s something new to take in. It’s amazing. Can you talk me through about what kind of things you sell here?
Bryony: We focus on the retro and the joyful - especially with the clothes. All our clothes are genuine vintage. I love the sixties through to the eighties as well as sequins and colour. I think Nottingham was missing that. We’ve got new costume jewellery, vintage silver jewellery and unopened deadstock jewellery from the eighties and nineties, too.
We’ve also got amazing artwork. For example, we had a book of lots of vintage film posters which we’ve turned into prints and framed them, which is really cool and affordable, as we wanted the art to be accessible for everyone.
Mihnea: We also really wanted to focus on the mid-century, so we have mid-century furniture and West German pottery. We try to make sure we have a range of items to suit a range of budgets with investment pieces mixed in with really affordable items. So you'll find a pot that's studio pottery by a named artist, which is £150 for example, next to a teapot that’s £5. You never know what you’re going to get. People might go to a section and assume it’s all expensive pieces, but that’s not necessarily the case if you start looking.
There are so many amazing pieces of pottery here. Where do you source them from?
Mihnea: I really like West German pottery so I always try to source that whenever I can. We also have a collection here from the Netherlands. I went on a buying trip there, and just went around flea markets and I bought every piece of West German, Dutch and French pottery that I could find, as well as glassware.
I think it's all about being aware of what you buy. Because, you go to IKEA for example, and buy a sideboard, and as soon as you take it home, build it and try to sell it after, it's value is going to depreciate. Whereas if you buy a piece of Danish furniture, it's like an investment piece. It's just going to go up in value, and if you take care of it, you can sell it in a few years and potentially make a profit.
The store spans across two floors, does it have similar things on each floor?
Bryony: We have clothing upstairs and downstairs, but the clothing upstairs is more of a tester, because we wanted everyone to be able to get a taste of what we've got, even if they're not able to go downstairs. We were also conscious not to zone it off too much. We wanted the shop to feel a bit like a showroom, where you can walk around, and everything's for sale.
How has the shop been received since you opened?
Bryony: It's been the best thing ever. We've had so many students who have been walking past, and so many of them have said they'd been watching us as we’d been doing it up, so they've been excited to come in and check it out. It’s great to hear how people have loved what we've done with the space.
Stevie [the dog] has been a massive hit too. People have been coming in just to see him. Everyone's been so nice, so kind, and it seems like everyone's pleased that this unit's finally alive again.
The interiors are stunning, you've created a lovely space. Do you know much of its history?
Bryony: The one that everyone recognises it as, is Ben Bowers, which was a popular restaurant between the seventies and the nineties. We’ve even had someone pop in and say they had their fortieth birthday meal here when it was a restaurant. I love hearing people's stories about this space because it's been empty for so long. It's nice to give it life again.
It doesn't all have to be serious, dusty and old. Vintage can be really fun and colourful
Have you got any of your favourite pieces you can share with us?
Mihnea: I'd say for me, one of my favourite pieces in the shop, though not for sale, is the Ladderax shelving by Staples. It's mid-century modular shelving which you could make to fit your home, add a desk, storage unit, whatever you like. It’s basically like a mid-century IKEA. I find it so beautiful. You could take a photo of anything on it, and it's going to look like a studio image.
Bryony: Mine's going to be the wall of teapots. I love kitsch homeware. For most people it's worthless, but it gives me so much joy. We've got all sorts of teapots from fruits to even a duck-shaped one. It’s all about making it joyful, and pieces that make people smile. It doesn't all have to be serious, dusty and old. Vintage can be really fun and colourful.
For anyone who’s not managed to check out the shop yet, how would you describe it?
Bryony: It's so easy for vintage, especially furniture and homeware to be seen as dirty, dusty and old, but it's not. I think the presentation and marketing really matters. I’d like to think that we've achieved that and in the process helped people buy second-hand rather than new. There’s enough new stuff out there in the world, and we don’t need to be making any more. Happy Sunday Vintage is all about appreciating what’s already out there because it’s brilliant. We wanted the shop to feel curated, clean and boutique-y, with regularly updated stock rather than keep up with the stereotype of being a dusty vintage shop.
You can find Happy Sunday Vintage at 128 Derby Rd, Nottingham
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