Stamford is home to many retail treasures hidden away and part of the fun is hunting for them. So after investigating all of the little nooks and crannies of the town’s high street, I have chosen my three favourite and most quirky displays that Stamford has to offer. It’s no secret that shop windows must compete with each other, and Stamford puts on a real show with its displays, including Russian dolls in domes, climbing taxidermy mice and china dogs surrounded by freshly arranged flowers.
Camilla Carscadden who owns ‘Snow Designs and Interiors’ explains,
“We always knew from the start that keeping up with unusual stock and displays would mean there would be some pressure to keep it looking interesting, but it is something I really do enjoy. I like the chase of a quirky object! In order to be displayed in my shop, an item must have an unusual design, good quality and be produced by someone who has a passion for what they do.”
Camilla, who comes from a design background, continues,
“A good collection is one that all ties in together using shapes, colours, light and of course a good range of prices. You could say we take our displays too far but we like to push the boundaries. Through my window I like to entertain the men (as they can be left standing outside along the high street) using interesting books, taxidermy and funky lighting, which often keeps them interested. My window says, “We’re all mad here!” However, a fun display is not for everyone; it interests people who have a controlled eye who can detect and pick something out that excites them.”
Camilla strongly supports other local artists, ” We are a business supporting other local businesses and hope to receive support from customers to see more independent shops thrive in Stamford. If we don’t use them we will lose them. All products are locally made, making each item a bespoke and unique piece.”
‘White Stuff’, established in 1985, makes a bold, quirky statement with its lavish widow display at the heart of Stamford high street. Store manager Julie Warburton tells all about the shop’s recent refurbishment – just another way of competing with other displays.
“We had a complete modernisation carried out over ten nights in March, 2015. We have now created a cosy area to have a cuppa, a kid’s den with toys and books and beautiful new wooden mannequins. Every area of the shop has been refreshed and looks lovely. Retro furniture and nostalgic touches make our shop a home; there’s so much to see and to look at amongst our unique displays! Creating spaces where people feel welcome is really important to us and the interior needs to reflect this.”
When asked what the customers think about the new interior, Julie explains,
“Our regular customers “get” the brand and the quirkiness that comes with it. In our displays we use items that make you smile. We like quirky! The intricate details and considered design touches reflect our personality and make us subtly distinctive.”
“Our shop has lots of retro touches, reclaimed vintage furniture and quirky props which fill the shelves, windows and displays. Our window makes us stand out. It says, “we are a little bit different, come in and have a look!” The windows are our “conversations” with our customers and we use relevant, fun and feel good topics. We very often get passers by taking pictures of the windows.”
Miss Pickering of Miss Pickering’s Flower Emporium has a more artistic approach to her displays, explaining,
“Any space is a reflection of the owner, be it a shop or a home. The quirkiness is what attracts people. The interior of my shop is actually quite plain and natural which allows the flowers to add the colour and seasonality, meaning it is an ever-changing interior. As an independent business it is easy to be flexible on taste. I think people come to buy flowers from me because they like my personal taste.”
An avid lover of Stamford, Miss Pickering states,
“In an era of bland high streets, Stamford offers so many wonderful independent shops. Stamford is full of treasures if you only look.”
When probed about her quirky taxidermy heron, Miss Pickering states,
“I only have a small window, which means I have to be more creative with the space. Sometimes the windows are more tongue in cheek, or designed to simply make people smile. The taxidermy heron has become a bit of a shop mascot. I suppose he might seem strange to some.
“I am in the business of flowers, I don’t think anything can be too much, can it?”
Words and Photography by Loo Loo Rose
Originally published in ‘Stamford Living Magazine’ May, 2015