PREPOSTEROUS PRESENTS

After starting the shop with goods made by friends I then decided to expand the range by adding things which people were asking for providing they fitted in with the image of the shop.

I visited an importer and wholesaler operating from two adjoining shops in the suburbs of Bristol. Chris and Kevin Bater who are the sons of the founder now run Bristol Novelty from large purpose built premises.

I then visited the Abraxas Novelty Co. in Shoreditch run by John Goldstein. Whilst in their showroom another customer Roger D. Lewis introduced himself to me as someone who could deliver goods to my shop obtained from a number of similar kinds of wholesalers.

I now had a group of suppliers who could provide most of the things people were asking for. Since moving to 262, Upper Street I had been going into the Hope & Anchor pub diagonally opposite my shop at 207, Upper Street. My photocopy shop did copies of promotional material for the pub and some of the up and coming bands and someone suggested that I should get a badge making machine. This was at a time when Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, The Damned, Madness, The Specials and Bad Manners were appearing at the Hope & Anchor and Stiff Records had its office in a room above the pub. It was an exciting time and people were asking for make up, wigs, colour spray and more dressing up accessories. Roger Lewis by actually delivering directly to shops knew of several fancy dress shops that were closing down and I obtained a lot of the initial stock for what was to become the fancy dress hire part of the shop.

The shop was taking on a changing identity and I needed a person with an interest in make up and dressing up to run it. In 1983 we started stocking a series of Acme postcards by photographer Sally Greenhill. On noticing Lynn Skelly who I knew from the Hope & Anchor on one of the postcards it occurred to me that she might be just the right person. She agreed to work Saturdays to see what it was like, eventually becoming full time and then Manager in 1988.

To be continued.

DRESSING UP

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