Category Archives: WeNo blog

WeNo Insider’s Guide to… Floral Hall!

Presenting Floral Hall, a longstanding West Norwood business with deep roots in the community.

Entering the shop you are greeted by a central explosion of colour and a subtle fragrance of flowers; along the edges are displays of seeds, bulbs, chocolates, candles and vases. And there’s more… for tucked around the corner on Lansdowne Hill, Floral Hall run a garden centre (a relatively young business at just five years old!) This does a particularly brisk trade in December when local people are busy selecting their Christmas trees and eagerly carrying them away.

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Owner Sally and her team have been trading flowers from the high street premises for 20 years. When you view the attractive, wide shop frontage with plants arranged on the pavement, the shop does have certain solid presence. The business actually goes back even further – an impressive 37 years, operating initially as a flower stall. Sally recalls the pitch. It was next to a fish wagon and fruit stall on the cobbled right of way outside the Thurlow Arms (now Tesco Metro). The row of market stalls had operated in that spot for generations.

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When Sally first came to West Norwood, there were an amazing seven floral outlets. She explains, “you see, there was no internet or competing supermarket trade…”. Even so, that seems like a lot of florists. But as our intrepid FEAST reporter spoke to Sally, it became clear flowers are part of the fabric of our lives. People use them to mark significant life events, in times of celebrations: weddings, special birthdays and births; and the painful times of loss: for funerals. So it’s not surprising Sally and her staff have got to know the shop regulars over the years, seen people’s kids grow up and go to university etc, which explained why during the interview in neighbouring Sorrento Restaurant, Sally was greeted by passersby saying hello and keen to exchange news.

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So, what is unique about Floral Hall? Well, Sally prides herself on good service. You can order online and items can be delivered. Visitors to the shop notice the friendly atmosphere and gentle banter. Kevin, Christine and Linda have been working with Sally for years and they work together with ease.

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And the highlights of the job? Sally doesn’t hesitate – the flowers. “You never cease to be amazed by their smell and beauty”. But it’s hard work, labour intensive. She visits New Covent Garden Market four times a week, arriving at 5am to haggle with buyers – a job her late husband Terry excelled at. She then has to load her van, drive back, unload, prepare and arrange stock. As she points out, it’s perishable stock so it’s risky judging what you need. The team have worked all night to meet the deadlines of Mothers Day and Valentines Day – bouquets have to be prepared fresh. She remembers with a smile how the Thurlow Arms publican would see the shop lights burning after hours and bring over a tray of sandwiches and hot toddies! Then there was the time when Next needed 250 buckets of flowers for their autumn catalogue shoot and they scrambled to meet the brief. But there have been highs –preparing the flowers for Kate Winslett’s wedding when she was at the height of her career (all top secret). And, inevitably, there have been lows – the time the van was stolen with all their stock just before Valentines Day and Terry had no choice but to purchase all the flowers again and buy a new van.

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Have there been any memorable jobs? Certainly! Dead floral arrangements for a film set. Also many personal specialist arrangements – Linda recently created a floral ballroom dancing couple that they were particularly proud of.

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This year is the shop’s 20th anniversary. We hope the team takes some time out for a well-deserved celebration!

Floral Hall

370 Norwood Road

SE27 9BQ

www.floralhalllondon.co.uk

Mon-Sat 8.30 to 6pm and Sun 8.30 to 5pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#WeNo Insider’s Guide to Maddison’s second hand shop

For this edition, our roving reporter headed past St Lukes up towards Rosebery’s auction house.

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If you are a dedicated bargain hunter with a passion for second hand goods, then Maddison’s is a treat. The forecourt is a jumble of furniture. Inside, the shop is crammed with bookcases, chest of drawers, desks. The odd chair dangles from the ceiling. All of this is interspersed with bric a brac. It’s the type of shop where you need to look carefully and rummage; hard to manoeuvre around, with little focus on presentation, certainly worth peering behind bulky items for hidden treasures.

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Whilst our intrepid FEAST reporter was talking to owner Ian, a steady stream of people browsed or purchased. The last was a young man who happily carried off a working typewriter. Ian commented he has regulars who pass by every couple of weeks. Each has their own particular interest, be it 50’s furniture, records, vintage cameras. And tellingly, about 35% of customers are trade. Note. You have been tipped off – because these are dealers looking for quality goods to sell on in their shops.

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There are historic links to nearby Roseberys. Ian was first introduced to Roseberys by his antique dealer dad, keen to settle his son into the world of work when he returned home from travelling. For 11 years Ian worked at Roseberys; initially selling catalogues, becoming a furniture porter, cataloguing and doing bits of valuation work. When Roseberys began concentrating on higher value antiques, he saw a gap in the market. In 2003, he set up shop in a former butchers called… yes…Maddison’s. The name stuck. He took the original shop sign with him 4 years ago when changing premises.

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So where does Ian get his stock? Well, about 85% comes from house clearances. Which explains why Maddison’s mid week opening is ad hoc – Ian will be out doing clearance or downsizing work. Call ahead to check opening, but Saturdays in the shop is the busy day – always open with fresh stock. Ian looks wistful “Its amazing how much people amass over a lifetime”. He recently cleared a massive 7 tons out of a studio flat.   Inevitably some of this stuff goes to the tip (one property contained 30 broken kettles, another a collection of cheese labels from around the world). However, he recycles as much as possible. To that end, Maddison’s has an on going relationship with neighbouring charity shop Emmaus. Ian donates over a van load a week to Emmaus; mainly lower value items like books. In contrast, some of the vintage curios now goes to Mabel’s Five and Dime. This is Maddison’s new sister shop, based in Sydenham.

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Maddison’s

86 Knight’s Hill

SE27 0JD

Call Ian for weekday opening times 07956 832970

Sat 10 to 4pm

 

 

WeNo Insiders Guide To…Studio Trap

Presenting… Studio Trap, West Norwood’s very own tattoo parlour, just off Norwood Road on Chatsworth Way. The shop frontage is eye-catching with a tall billboard of Marilyn Monroe, tattooed.

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If your idea of a tattoo parlour is a seedy, dark room, think again. Owner Donnie has worked hard to create a bright, inviting space, including newly laid wooden floors and whitewashed walls. Standing on the pavement, you can see through to a light, uncluttered reception area. It is more like entering a hairdressers, albeit with a high concentration of tattooed people inside. The main visual clues to the service being offered here… a line of brightly coloured inks and reclining chairs. So this is the place where people come to get inked. Or pierced.

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Donnie sat opposite our intrepid FEAST reporter and grinned. Our first question had to be “How did you get into this line of work?” He recounted how from an early age he was into drawing, has an artistic background, and has exhibited. In his thirties, he got his first tattoo from a home-based tattooist in Streatham. He recalls, “I came away thinking I could do this”. So he started practising at home, on himself, on friends – until he was ready to open a business. His self tattoos are like line drawings – simple but striking. Initially, Studio Trap was based on Knights Hill in the basement of Fashion Clicks. It moved to the current street-level premises on Chatsworth Way a couple of years ago. Now Donnie has a team of freelance tattoo artists, each with their own area of expertise. He points at Marek, “He likes realism and working in black and grey”. Donnie explains that the needles have varying thicknesses, such as fine ones for detail, and then there are the batches of 14 plus needles that are used for shading. He muses, “You always remember your tattoo artist.”

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Customers include regulars, but mainly are recommendations. People even travel from outside London, having seen Studio Trap work via social media. This is where Donnie’s digital marketing seems to have paid off. The website has a small gallery of tattoos, but on Instagram Studio Trap boasts over 16,000 followers. In fact, business must be good, because Donnie has recently opened a second shop, Tatu Society in Tower Bridge Road, and is training apprentices.

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And what do people come for… well anything really, ranging from star trek logos to detailed pieces like the head of a native American chief. And the longest amount of time Donnie has taken on a tattoo – 20 hours on a full sleeve (‘whole arm’ to the uninitiated). Not in one sitting! The most surprising request – a 72-year-old who wanted a Kama Sutra tattoo on her calf.

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Tempted? They sell gift vouchers…

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Studiotrap

2 Chatsworth Way

SE27 9DL

http://www.studiotrap.com

 

Mon to Fri 11 to 8pm

Sat & Sun 12 to 6pm