Shop spotlight on Search and Rescue (usually written Search & Rescue). This is a spacious store situated on Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16. As the name implies, the concept is rather simple; they search high and low for exciting, intriguing and unique home decor discoveries. The stock includes an eclectic mix of vintage furniture and vintage homeware which sits alongside a contemporary offering. Expect to be delighted by the soft furnishings, kitchen wares, modern greeting cards, collection of the best beauty products plus exquisite pieces from contemporary jewellery designers. This treasure trove is owned by Kieron Traynor, a businessman from the north of England. He previously worked as an MD at a garment wholesaler for high street retailers. Kieron leaves his store in the capable hands of the Manager – Clare Roberts, who has a background in vintage buying, costume making and design. I caught up with Clare to find out more about Search and Rescue.
See Inside Search and Rescue
Many of the shops along Stoke Newington Church Street are quite small and compact. You’ll be amazed when you step inside Search and Rescue because it is quite a sizeable space. It’s two shops knocked into one so makes for a pleasant browse, especially if you have a pushchair with you.
Clare tells me that the buyer and visual merchandiser is a fountain of design knowledge, which she gathers through relentless hunting and searching – blogs, markets and auctions. She’ll often pop in at the end of the day and re-arrange the merchandise, so it has a fresh new look. I must say that she certainly has an exceptional eye, not only for identifying intriguing products to sell but also in her display capabilities. Items are grouped like the tableware, glassware and beauty products, but you’ll also get a pleasant surprise when you see a statue of Jesus cropping up in amongst the hand creams.
Clare tells me, “merchandising the shop is like a giant jigsaw puzzle – pieces are moved around until they fit. It’s quite labour intensive because we have a steady influx of new products. There are a few standard fixtures in the shop. We use vintage furniture to display other merchandise; for example, the 1960s sofa currently showcases our range of Flock cushions. When the sofa sells, we’ll need to find somewhere new to display these cushions. The store morphs and refreshes itself daily, which certainly keeps things interesting for the customer and us.”
Search and Rescue Collection
The store motto is, “if it’s beautiful, and we love it, we’ll stock it.” They keep an eye out for the esteemed furniture names like Ercol, Eames and Parker Knoll. But mainly it’s truly unique, quirky and beautiful items that earn their place in the store. You’ll find all sorts of great things like a vintage bingo set, copper rocking horse and school laboratory stools with student graffiti. They have a fully functioning 1960s pinball machine on display which they tell me has become an icon in the shop.
1960s Pinball Machine £895
Another lovely piece is the Anatomy Model which is an original from a school. It’s fully intact and in perfect condition. You can remove all the organs and then put them back together again. They’ve become somewhat attached to this piece, and you might have to wrestle it out of their hands.
Anatomy Model £265
Where possible they aim to stock British made products like the Trophy Bike Racks made by Outline Works, a team of guys based in Kent who are bike fanatics. The idea is to display your bicycle on the wall as a piece of art which suits city living. Designed to look like animal trophy heads, they have an industrial ascetic and come in bright colours.
Trophy Bike Racks £99.50
An exciting brand they stock is The School of Life, which is devoted to developing emotional intelligence. The Utopia Candles have a pleasing fragrance designed to evoke perfect worlds as described by the likes of Plato.
Utopia Candies £35
They are keen on supporting and local Hackney based designers and creators like Esme Winter, a design based duo from East London. Esme Winter and Richard Sanderson make stationery, wrapping paper and contemporary greetings cards. Everything is produced in the UK in collaboration with generation-old craftspeople. The patterns are bold with a nod to mid-century modernism in beautiful colour combinations.
Esme Winter Wrapping Paper £3.99 per sheet
Another local designer is Meg Degraaf from North London. She makes handcrafted jewellery using metals sourced in the UK for her collection under the name MDG. Her directional range includes sterling silver and gold with clean, sharp lines influenced by mid-century architecture and a touch of gothic intrigue.
MDG Necklace £20-150
The store benefits from the rise of Stoke Newington’s reputation as a shopping destination for independent retailers. Being close to Dalston they have certainly noticed more newcomers checking out the vicinity and making it part of their shopping route. They get a mix of locals visiting and a steady stream of creative types who are looking for something unique and special for their city pads. It’s certainly an area I love to browse around with some interesting shops and an abundance of eateries. You’ll enjoy visiting!
Visit the Search and Rescue Shop
Website: Search and Rescue
Address: 129 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UH
Near: Stoke Newington Rail Station, Arsenal Tube and Dalston Kingsland Overground
Open: Check online for current opening times
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: S&R, Esme Winter, MDG, Homegirl London and Lake Photography. Thanks: Clare Roberts.