The Lollipop Shoppe is one of my favourite shops in London, with a range of products from furniture classics to design books to die for (and I’m not just saying that because they stock Interviews!), so I was really keen to catch up with owners Siobhan and Marco to find out how they do it…
What’s your background and how did you end up doing what you do?
Siobhan had a concession within Liberty London selling vintage clothing, specialising in British labels such as Biba, Ossie Clark and Janice Wainwright, with her best friend Jody Moss for four years prior to opening the shop. Marco was a manager within a department store. Both of us had a passion for design and collected 20th Century furniture, ceramics and glass on various trips to Scandinavia and beyond, so we decided to turn our passion into a business.
Why did you decide to set up the Lollipop Shoppe?
We moved to Brighton from the East End of London seven years ago and saw a real gap in the market for a design store. As we had such a huge interest in the subject it didn’t take long for the idea of a store to snowball and become a reality. Two years after opening Brighton, Marco was missing London so we decided to go East and open our second store in London.
Where did the name come from?
Marco is a psychedelic and garage music fan and the store is named after a 1960s American garage band from Portland, Oregon. Our motto is perpetual renewal and trying to make the shop a fun place to be. We wanted to reflect this in our shop name and we wanted something that didn’t scream “design store’ as that would just be boring!
How important is the location of your shops?
The location is very important. We have a particular type of customer, many of whom are employed in creative industries who seem to radiate towards areas like the East End of London and Brighton.
The products that you stock really work together to create a distinct ‘Lollipop Shoppe’ feel – how do you select them?
Instinct… we started off by buying items that we love and would use, and over the years this has grown into what our customers love and would use too. We both spend a lot of time working in the stores so that we get a feel for the type of customer we have, and we have conversations with them about new products and design… sometimes they teach us a thing or two! The items we select have to be aesthetically pleasing and useful but also sometimes a little quirky.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in design retail, perhaps with their first online shop?
Place small orders at first to test the water and see what sells – and don’t underestimate the power of hard work!
Do you think there is a future for bricks and mortar retail? What makes it worth doing for you? And for the consumer?
Bricks and mortar are becoming more irrelevant over time. A huge amount of our business is done online to a worldwide audience. We are fortunate to work with a great web design team who has really stamped our personality onto our website so you do not have to physically visit one of our stores to get the Lollipop Shoppe experience. We now have regular customers from Japan, Taiwan, America and most recently Russia! However, we do like to have a physical store because we feel that it is important for customers to be able to interact with the goods. It also provides people with confidence if they know you have a physical store and you’re not just floating in cyber space!
What’s your favourite product that you have in stock right now and why?
Currently, the new Re-Turned birds by Lars Beller Fjetland for Italian brand Discipline. They are made of recycled wood, so each one is individual and beautifully crafted.
What’s the best part of your job?
Meeting interesting people, being surrounded by amazing objects and no two days being the same.
What are you most proud of?
And finally, what’s your favourite colour?!
Further reading for the especially geeky: