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Alice in Wonderland… just off Portobello Road

23 June 2009
Published in Attualità, Society
by Giovanni Biglino

edwardian-enamelled-lettersIn the heart of Notting Hill, on Talbot Road, next door to the iconic Roughtrade record store, Pedlars is not just a shop. An orange bike is usually parked outside and, once inside, you are always welcomed with a smile. But then your attention is immediately caught by the vast assortment of the most unexpected – yet harmoniously cohabiting – simple treasures. Vintage bakelite telephones and crockery, old London Underground signs made into paintings and typewriters. The ensemble is colourful, imaginative, tasteful. The products are mostly made in UK and carefully selected, such as True Grace candles or the whole range Keep Calm and Carry On (mugs, t-shirts, but also chocolate bars and deckchairs). And downstairs some previously unseen kitchen tools are displayed together with delicious Welsh honey, Teapigs chai and curious tea towels. No cook will resist to the temptations offered in Pedlars’ basement.

The concept was initiated by Charlie Gladstone (great-great-grandson of British Prime Minister William Gladstone) and his wife Caroline, a glamorous couple who left London in favour of a Scottish country house and looked for a business that could be run from home. Probably because of its origins, Pedlars certainly has a distinct personal touch. Careless and sophisticated at the same time.

Today, apart from the shop in Notting Hill, Pedlars’ product range is also available at Selfridges in Birmingham, while in North Wales, at the Hawarden Estate Farm Shop, the freshest food and natural products can be found. In fact, needless to say, Pedlars is greatly committed to the environmental cause.

In order to further explore this colourful world, we have discussed the concept with Pedlars’ pr, Pamela Brice.

How did Pedlars’ activity begin?

Pedlars has been on the go now for nearly 12 years.  We started off on a completely different track selling clothing but, as you can see from looking at our website or visiting our stores, the collection has completely changed over the years with the focus these days being on home wares and lifestyle.bakelite-telephone

Monocle’s editor Tyler Brûlé recently complained on his FT column about the closure of several neighbourhood stores, usually family-owned, especially in Notting Hill. Pedlars recently opened in Notting Hill. Do you support the idea of a friendly and familiar neighbourhood atmosphere?

Yes, most definitely – that is what we are striving for in our Notting Hill shop and I think that area of London does particularly lend itself to a friendly, relaxed atmosphere where our customers get to know us and frequently pop in for a chat.  We make a conscious effort to bring this vibe into our mail order business too and to make our customers feel they are part of a family.

Pedlars is a great supporter of ‘made in UK’ - how do you source the products you sell?

It’s quite a job one way or another!  We make a point of travelling around the country visiting as many of the big trade shows as we can.  However, very often some of the quirkier products we have in our collection and certainly all of the vintage stuff has been more or less chanced upon.

Hand-made, custom-made, tailored : is this the new luxury?

It is certainly a luxury but not necessarily a new one.

“Keep calm and carry on” – are Pedlars’ t-shirts a new motto?

No, it featured on a World War II poster offering instructions on what to do in the event of an air raid – we’ve taken it from there and it still seems very relevant today! 

keep-calma-and-carry-on-rugsIs Pedlars also a big advocate for locally-grown organic food, considering the activity carried out in the Hawarden Estate Farm Shop?

Most certainly.  A lot of the Pedlars staff up here in Scotland grow their own vegetables and that is what the Estate Farm Shop in Hawarden is all about, the shop was built from wood harvested on their farm and sits in the centre of a 30 acre site of fruit and vegetables grown solely for sale in the shop.

Practical vs beautiful?

This really doesn’t have to be an either/or – we have lots of stuff in our collection that is both practical AND beautiful.

Vintage vs new?

Today I think vintage, but who knows how I will feel tomorrow?

128 Talbot Road, Notting Hill

2 Responses to “Alice in Wonderland… just off Portobello Road”

  1. Andrea says:

    I will most definitely check out Pedlars, when I’ll come to London! I wish there were more shops around like this one you described…

  2. AI says:

    Ogni mattina “keep calm and carry on” accompagna la mia colazione ;-)