The new curiosity shops: Where to spend time as well as money

In an age when you can buy absolutely anything online, a bricks-and-mortar shop has to be somewhere you want to spend time as well as money. 


Lara Boglione’s Richmond upon Thames café and shop has taken up residence in the heart of Covent Garden. Part shop, part delicatessen, part wine cellar and part floristry studio, with two restaurants set to open later this year, Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden is one to watch.

Murano glassware, simple elegance and beautiful greenery are evident throughout the store at Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden

Why Covent Garden? It seemed like a natural fit to open the next Petersham Nurseries. Its history, humble beginnings and connection to nature are key for our heritage.

Lara Boglione, owner of Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden

How would you describe the space? The brand’s individual style is clearly visible in the interiors of the Covent Garden store: our love for art, Murano glassware, simple elegance and beautiful greenery are evident throughout.

What can visitors expect? We hope to have created a space where guests can slow down, step back and experience positive living while exploring.

Floral planters make for an inviting entrance to the store

Our retail space includes a lifestyle shop, which sells beautiful things for the home, a floristry – which is always full of colourful, dramatic and wildly romantic seasonal stems and foliage – and a delicatessen, which is our interpretation of a traditional Italian grocery store.

Everything has been sourced from artisanal producers, some of whom we have had relationships with since the creation of Petersham Nurseries in 2004. We want our visitors to walk away with the full experience.

Product inspiration comes from Laura’s travels around the world
TERRACOTTA VASE, £175; CERAMIC TEAPOT, £290; 19th-CENTURY DRESSER, £3,500; CHANDELIER, £680; SCENTED CANDLE, £45, and MUG, £80, all Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden

What is the ethos of the Petersham brand? Nature is the essence of the business, from our horticultural roots to the seasonality of the food we serve. We encourage positive living through our consideration of the environment and we draw inspiration from the beauty of nature.

Petersham Nursery’s Covent Garden restaurants La Goccia and The Petersham will open this spring. For more information, visit


A coffee shop, boutique and guesthouse, Caro is the brainchild of former trend forecaster and interiors stylist Natalie Jones. Set in the heart of Bruton, Somerset, it is a unique space that caters for both the heart and home.

Caro offers a little bit of everyday luxury set in the Somerset countryside

How did Caro come about? It started when I moved to Somerset from London in 2014. My husband point-blank refused to live in the city so I decided to bite the bullet, end the daily commute and have a go at country living.

Having left a good job at a design agency, I decided to try to start up something myself. I had been visiting Bruton for six years before I moved there and felt there wasn’t a shop that spoke to someone like me, so I created Caro.

Handcrafted items are a feature of Caro

What is the local community like? Bruton is a town with a lot of history. The building Caro is in was previously a Steiner school.

The high street has seen a lot of change over the decades, with successful restaurants, independent butchers and hardware stores popping up. There is an energy in the air now, which is really exciting.

Natalie Jones in her coffee shop, boutique and guesthouse Caro in Bruton, Somerset

What makes Caro stand out from the crowd? It’s a little bit of everyday luxury set in the countryside – a pairing that is often hard to find. From handcrafted items for the home to somewhere indulgent yet accessible to rest your head in the evening, we wanted to create a unique experience for all.

One of the simply decorated in rooms at Caro’s guesthouse

How do you go about finding pieces to sell? I am on the lookout wherever I go. I love bringing together things I discover on holiday with artists I am introduced to or designers I come across on Instagram.

What are your customers most drawn to? I hope they feel a warmth to Caro. Someone recently said they wished I served dinner so that they could sit and enjoy the space for longer. It was flattering to hear such a compliment and feeds my desire to understand how spaces invite people to feel a certain way.

CUSHION, £47; CHAIR, £300; MUG, £13; TERRACOTTA TEAPOT, £150; CHOCOLATE BARS, £6.50 each, and DISPLAY BOX, £45, all

What is next on the horizon for Caro? I am looking forward to adding another arm to the Caro brand. I can’t go into too much detail, but it will be women-focused. Bruton is full of female business owners, which fascinates me. It’s an empowering environment to be in.

For more information, visit


A one-stop shop for the home, cupboard and wardrobe, Florence Dixon’s Tidy Street General Store is located in the bustle of the Brighton Lanes. Daughter of design guru Tom Dixon, Florence set up shop with her mother Claudia after being inspired by the new wave of general stores in Los Angeles.

Tidy Street General Store is located in Brighton Lanes

What did you do before Tidy Street? 

Florence Dixon and mother Claudia set up Tidy Street General Store after being inspired by a new wave of general stores in Los Angeles

We’ve had lots of different jobs. Claudia was a stylist at Elle Decoration before becoming an osteopath and yoga teacher. I used to own a café, then trained to be a nurse. The common theme throughout that time was our love of sourcing new things, supporting traditional manufacturers and small producers and, of course, shopping.

Why a general store? From the beginning we wanted it to be a shop where there was something for everyone. In Los Angeles we had seen stores where you could buy peanut butter alongside jeans, and we have tried to create a distinctly British version.

At Tidy Street you can find gin-pickled cucumbers from London’s Newton & Pott next to jumpers handknitted in Brighton and recycled glasses from Marrakech. You can spend £2 or £200.

‘In Los Angeles we had seen stores where you could buy peanut butter alongside jeans, and we have tried to create a distinctly British version,’ says Florence

Where do you source the products that you sell? In today’s world of Instagram and cheap flights, new things are harder to come by. You have to keep searching for unusual and interesting items.

We try really hard to source things ethically and sustainably and to support craft, whether that is using British jewellery manufacturers or stocking Katie’s Nuttery Pecan Butter, which is made by a local family.

BASKET, £55; FLOOR TILES, both £700 per sq m; PECAN BUTTER, £6.95; SOCKS, £13.65, and BAG, £57, all

Have you seen a shift in what customers are looking for in a shop? Completely. We try to make the retail experience as special and personable as possible: a warm welcome, tote bags printed by the screen printers across the road, the ability to get a feel for the products before buying them and the opportunity to buy one-of-a-kind objects you wouldn’t find online.

For more information, visit