Barnes in south west London could quite possibly the spiritual home of Indie of the Week. After talking with Anna Sparshatt, the owner of The Perching Post, I've discovered they have a very supportive community headed up by the Barnes Community Association which actively helps independent businesses (just don't mention the Pizza Express or Cafe Nero on the high street). Within this family-oriented, affluent community The Perching Post is a little design outpost selling restored furniture and new accessories with a slightly retro Swedish lots of grey vibe; she is adamant that the look is "not shabby chic". Despite the support it has still been a struggle, with the quiet periods of summer holidays and half-terms being a particular challenge, but she is taking on more private commissions for clients wanting old furniture updated and is finding her niche on this indie high street.
Who are you? Anna Sparshatt, Owner of The Perching Post.
Where can we find you? You can find us at 55 Barnes High Street, London, SW13 9LF; www.theperchingpost.co.uk
Describe your store in five words: Eclectic, unusual, furniture, homeware, gifts.
What makes you different? We have a fantastic mix of old furniture which has been rejuvenated or restyled, new furniture, homeware, and we’re now selling gifts such as bags, jewellery, and scarves. We like to source goods made in the UK if we can. We have also started to do some interesting pop-ups in the shop, this week we have Poule De Luxe who make beautiful gowns, tops and nighties from fine organic linens, silks and cobweb fine cotton English lace using traditional methods. So I guess we're a bit like a mini department store.
How do you decide what makes the cut? It has to be something that I like and would buy. It also helps, especially with the antique/retro furniture and items made in the UK, if there is an interesting story behind it. I also look out for items that are reasonably priced and good quality.
What were you doing before you did this? Well I'm 24 and I pretty much went straight from university into opening the shop. I studied Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Art, but realised I just enjoyed scouting furniture and transforming items that would otherwise be destined for landfill. It is a great way to channel my artistic side.
If you were starting again what advice would you give yourself? To trust your instincts, learn to say no and be able to walk away. Market your business early and get the message out there asap.
What are you most proud of? Surviving! We've been open for nearly two years and having a bricks and mortar shop is tough. With such large overheads and very limited experience in business it's been particularly hard this year, but I'm very hopeful for the future and love what I’m doing. Word is getting out now and I am working on a few commissions that came my way through people visiting the shop.
Do you have a favourite thing in the store right now? Well, our stock constantly changes, but at the moment I love our herringbone throws as all I want to do these days is wrap up warm by the fire.
What's hot for 2014? As blue is tipped to be next year’s colour we’re working on restoring some lovely cocktail chairs and Ercol sofas in beautiful blue fabrics.
Every Wednesday 'Indie of the week' celebrates the best independent stores around. These places sell interesting and varied collections of design-related things you don't see everywhere else. They may support young or local designers or be great at finding unique things from around the world. By thinking a little more creatively about what they stock they are fighting the bland homogenisation of so much of the high street. And since I'm down with the realities of modern life, online only stores count too, because a beautiful and easy to use website is just as delightful an encounter in cyberspace.
Do you you have a favourite store? I'd love to hear from you.