Prologue: It’s a fact that our city centre is a veritable treasure chest of secondhand shops. This series of posts will explore the rise of vintage in Notts, introducing some of the enthusiasts involved and showcasing a lesser-known aspect of retail that attracts students and locals of all ages.
If you often hurry past Hopkinson on your way to the station then you’ve been passing up on a real treat – and an opportunity to grab a takeaway filter coffee from an independent coffee seller. This four-storey building houses antiques, upcycled and second-hand furniture, vintage mens- and womenswear, a café, an art gallery and a number of artist’s studios. Sequinned maxi dresses, picnic sets, tweed coats and biker jackets jostle with handmade cards, eccentric brooches, footstools and retro ashtrays. Pretty much everything is for sale, and for an excellent price.
The amassed treasures of Hopkinson are in fact the wares of a large number of smaller businesses; once the sellers’ sections, the studios, the craftspeople and artists are taken into account there are over 120 housed in the building. It really is just like a gorgeous indoor market, the sort you read about in exotic travel articles.
Vintage sellers take over a section of the space, and can set up and display their goods to their liking. The waiting list is huge. I chatted to Maria, who specialises in 50s, 60s and 70s clothes and other items. She suggested that the increased interest in vintage may be a result of the current mainstream fashions – nostalgia, championed by the likes of Cath Kidston, is prevalent on the highstreet nowadays. Perhaps others are drawn to ‘go back’ to a well-loved style or label of clothing from their past. We agreed that it could also be the growing awareness of recycling as a way of living green. Like many of the sourcers, Maria also has an online shop – she sells under the name ‘Sunshine’.
I spoke to Izzie, who manages the multiplicity of businesses and events, about what (else!) makes Hopkinson special. According to her, ‘what’s nice about here is that it’s not just vintage – it’s antiques as well.’ She pointed out that high quality and reasonable prices were another advantage, as well as finding a gift or something for yourself ‘that no one else has got’.
Liam from Hopkinson (who I first met at the reopening of Daphnes Handbag ) also had some really exciting news about Cobden Chambers, a hidden row of terraced units and a disused factory space near the Bodega. Evergate Ltd (which takes on unused spaces for retail) is currently working with Bildern Properties, the Council and Nottingham Creative Quarter to transform this hidden area into an independent shopping destination, with affordable, easy-in-easy-out terms for small business. Vintage Reclaim Ltd, who own Hopkinson and Daphnes Handbag, will have a boutique in one of the terraces. The factory will be opened as a four-storey independent department store, with special emphasis on test-marketing new designer work. I’ll be taking a tour of the factory soon, so keep an eye on this site for more information!
Clearly, there’s a lot going on in the Hopkinson office; the store itself is expanding its reach into the arts community in Nottingham as well. Izzie has a background in fine arts, and has been working with her colleagues to open up any spare space for studios, as well as a bright exhibition room that will soon also be selling art books and supplies. Hopkinson encourages local and student artists to showcase their work, by charging a low price for the space. The current group show, open until the 2nd February, is entitled ‘Resolutions’, and invites the viewer to think about – and submit – their own resolutions. In February, the store and gallery will be taking part in Nottingham Light Night, in which shops, galleries and cafes will be opening late to complement the citywide light installations. Watch out for plenty more from this store in 2014.
Hopkinson, 21 Stations Street, Nottingham NG2 3AJ