Thursday, 15 March 2018

Coconut Trading

Last month, Perry Ukueku could scarcely have been further away from the Triangle. He was on a buying trip in Southeast Asia, sourcing decorative treasures for his long established shop, Coconut Trading. You may have noticed that the shop has also recently gone on a little trip itself, but not far, just to new premises which opened last year directly opposite the old shop on Church Road. He started trading there way back in 2000, long preceding most of the midcentury/vintage shops along the street, supplying a wide range of decorative items from Southeast Asia and Africa, whose timeless appeal has clearly endured.
Buddhas and beads, carvings and lighting, furnishings and fabric, there's a wealth of choice. It was on a similar far flung trip nearly 20 years ago that the idea for the shop first came about.
In a previous incarnation, Perry had trained as a psychotherapist. He was involved with a charity, managing a team of therapists, working with local authorities. As is typical of any career path, the more he was promoted, the less time he spent doing what he trained to do. Growing increasingly frustrated, he eventually packed it all in and went travelling around the world. En route he picked up so many items to take home, he ended up with a container load, and a plan to open a shop. On returning he knew that any shop would have to be close by. His previous job had involved a commute from West Norwood to Hampstead, which he was determined to avoid. In those days, Crystal Palace, which was one of Perry's preferred locations, had its own town centre manager, who let him know about the unit on Church Road which was to become his premises for the next 17 years. By his own admission, he went into retail quite naively, but he was clear that he wanted to source things directly, rather than buying from UK wholesalers, so as to ensure he wasn't just  stocking the same old things as every other shop. It also enables him to develop relationships with the artisans and cooperatives he buys from. As far as possible, items are made from natural, and sustainable materials. A certain amount of patience is required however, as it takes on average 3 months to get his shipment back to Crystal Palace.
Back on the Triangle, it is no surprise to discover that among Perry's favourite places to eat out, are restaurants drawing on the same parts of the world as his stock: Urban Orient, Yak & Yeti, and Thai Crystal. Although his biggest weakness is for the chocolates at Blowing Dandelion.
So if you fancy a trip to somewhere exotic, but can only fit in 20 minutes on a damp Thursday morning, pay a visit to No.68 Church Road, it feels a world away from SE19.

A little shrine resides in the corner behind the counter.

Downstairs you will find larger pieces of furniture and lighting, both traditional and contemporary, set around a magnificent bejewelled recline buddha.

68 Church Road
020 8771 0700

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Maison Minimale

With the news that we are finally going to see the return of a Cinema to Crystal Palace, things are looking bright along Church Road. Number 46 is another bright spot, after many years as an empty unit. A gleaming white canopy, emblazoned with Maison Minimale, fronts a pristine white interior laid out with an array of modern objects for the home. Although in striking contrast to the established vintage and midcentury businesses for which the street has become well known, this new addition complements the existing shops perfectly with it's stylish selection of homeware accessories, gifts, cards, skincare and toys.                   Tashan Cian and Zahra Beedassy, who both grew up in and around Croydon, opened the shop last October, a culmination of their shared passions and training; his at the Fashion Retail Academy, and hers at the University of Arts where she studied advertising and graphics, followed by work in fashion PR and jewellery design. Both are enthusiastic and creative, and had long thought of going into business together. They were determined to open a store in an area they knew well and loved, stocking only things that they love. It took a year to clinch the deal on the premises, which gave them time to develop their ideas for the store. The main thing, reflected in the 'Minimale' of the name, was that it shouldn't be overstuffed with stock, and that items be merchandised simply, in a way that customers could visualise things in their own home. Many of the carefully selected products are made in the UK, some by local makers. Sustainability and organic materials are important factors in Tashan and Zahra's choices. In particular the skincare range is all organic, vegan and cruelty free. Future plans include more of their own branded products including graphic art and scented candles, and an online shop.
Like everyone else locally, they are excited by the opportunities and extra customers the cinema may bring in its wake. And while lately we have lost some local favourites, things on this side of the Triangle are looking up.

Zahra & Tashan

46 Church Road

Friday, 22 December 2017


The promotional material had promised us festive fun, so I looked forward to visiting armed with my camera, to bring you twinkling Christmas lights, Santa in his grotto, decorated log cabins fragrant with mulled wine and Bavarian nibbles, Christmas decorations and trinkets, the fun of the ice rink and the fairground rides, frosted Christmas trees, and maybe a reindeer or two?
Alas not, instead I bring you a mud bath...

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Christmas Markets

Today, there is a rare chance to visit the Crystal Palace Subway. You don't have to book, and you shouldn't need to queue, and what's more, there will be lots of lovely things to buy, by local artists and makers, including the wonderful printmaker, Sinead Taylor, who designed the poster above. You will also find my cushions featuring the subway itself, and our friendly neighbourhood dinos.

My other half, Jochen, has also been hard at work in his 'laboratoire', I mean kitchen, creating his delicious Ludwig London scented candles. As well as the popular Hansel & Gretel Christmas candle, there will be a special one that's been created in honour of the Crystal Palace. Catch the smoky aroma of 1936.

If you can't make it today, the cushions and candles will also be on show on Sunday 17th December at the Upper Norwood Library's Christmas Bazaar.

And these aren't the only markets in town this Christmas. The Alma plays host again to the Handmade Market tomorrow, and next Sunday, while, if it ever gets going, there's a planned Winterfest in Crystal Palace Park, from now until the New Year.