Bazaar - Funky Furnishings, Cool Collectables
Digger meets up with Becky and Glynis at Retro Bazaar. Both
formerly in IT, their business was formed when their Retro
collecting 'bugs' turned into more than a hobby. Becky and
Glynis are now using their IT and electronics skills in this
Retro business. Retro Bazaar sells original furniture,
phones, clocks, radios and other Retro paraphernalia, all in
reconditioned and restored condition, and in the case of
Retro devices, fully-working, tip-top condition.
Please tell me about your backgrounds and the background to
My background is in electronics and IT.
A good combination.
A good combination, and perfect for here really. I fix things
do all the restorations.
Glynis: I've done a fair few different bits and pieces. Jack
of all trades master of none. Originally in catering, I
retrained into IT project management. I then worked overseas
in Australia. We were going to do this as a hobby because we'd
started collecting stuff and buying stuff.
Where did you two meet up?
We're friends from way back. And like you said to us with your
background, you get to the point in IT where you say
"Right, I've had enough." So we decided to take the
plunge and do it - stock, premises, website and getting
Yes, I saw a bit of your story on the website and it was
interesting and very honest as well.
I do the buying and Becky buys occasionally.
I get told off for buying.
Does that mean you have to go off around the country to events
Yes, we go to a lot of auctions, car boots, antique fairs...
Is it difficult to know when to stop when acquiring items and
do you get the feeling you should be in two places at the same
Initially yes, because we didn't know what our core products
were. So we have stock now that feels like we've had forever.
But other stock which we bought last week, we've sold already.
That's the difference and the buying's becoming a lot more
streamlined and very more focused.
You don't need computer systems telling you what the best
sellers are and what you've got languishing on the shelves!
No. It's just knowing what sells. What we did for the first
year was lots of different shows to see what we sell. Because
you have to be passionate about what you sell and if you don't
like it you can't really sell it.
The first year was finding our feet.
This year we are only doing a maximum of two fairs a month and
we are very selective. Unlike last year where we did
everything we could.
Is being in Milton Keynes an advantage?
It is a good base; we can get to the London market and up
North. We used to go to Yorkshire quite a bit as we know
dealers up there but these days the price of diesel is really
hitting us hard and it's just not worth it.
What are clients saying about your products and services?
The feedback has been good. We did Vintage at Goodwood last
year - Johnnie Walker stayed outside our tent for a long time.
He didn't come in though!
It was so busy we saw nothing of the show.
We sold absolutely everything. We turned up in a huge van and
filled it to the gunnels and cleared it all out.
You'll be back at the South Bank this year?
Yes, we will. We're kind of disappointed it's not back at
Goodwood this year because we had a captive audience whereas I
don't know how it's going to work in London.
No, there will be a lot of people just coming to see what's
That was a fantastic show for us because it actually
vindicated that what we are doing works. Because we sold out
telephones and clocks and lights.
It was absolute madness and I don't know what they were
expecting but it went with a bang.
So, what are your best sellers?
Off the website I would say telephones, because they're all
converted and relatively cheap and ready to go. So they're a
good present. At the shows, it's definitely phones and clocks
and at the furniture shows it's lighting and small furniture.
You have to be careful with furniture because most people are
looking for particular brands; G-Plan and Ercol are the big
thing at the moment.
What does The Internet mean to the business?
Bearing in mind we've both got an IT background, we can
exploit it more than normal sellers do.
What do you do to exploit it?
To start with we've actually got a website that looks right.
A lot of people complain that the stock they see on people's
sites is already sold and that annoys them. Anything that's on
our site is actually available for sale.
And you can buy it straight away. If you click the image you
can go through to buy. Ours is almost like Amazon for Retro.
But what we do is get our stock on the site. It takes time
because it's not as though we're selling 100 little bolts that
are all the same. Each of these items is unique and different.
We have two black phones over there but they're completely
different - one's an Indian Transport phone and the other one
is a very strange '706'. So they both need their very own
independent descriptions and photos. It's very rare that we
can recycle the text. So by the time you take a photograph, do
the description, upload it to the site and then somebody goes
and buys it the next day and you think "Oh damn, I spent
two hours putting that on!"
I hate it when you go into a website and the information is
clearly totally out-of-date.
Yes, it hacks me off when I see out-of-date dates on the show
websites. One of the shows we are doing this year is the
Rewind Festival - 1980s in Henley. That should be a blast so
I'm really looking forward to that. It's in August, 19th-21st.
So we have South Bank at the end of July and then Rewind.
That's those two months covered.
There's no guarantees but you can sort of predict that because
Goodwood went well last year it will this year so you've
almost got your sales sorted for those months.
Yes, and also we can't print our business cards quick enough,
which is a great position to be in. Having one show each month
is really good.
Even if we don't sell at Rewind they'll be aware of us and
take a look at the website.
And you'll build business contacts.
Yes. And I might even sell TVs and phones for set-dressing.
Because there's never any certainty when you buy stock that
the thing actually works or has any parts inside it. Sometimes
it's just a shell. And some items you just can't get to work
because they're so obscure.
We've got a gorgeous KGB phone... How about that beastie?!
(Shows the phone, which looks like something out of
Thunderbirds or James Bond.) It's from our pile of unfixable
Yeah, it's brilliant. I like the red and green lights.
I'm still trying to work out the wiring. Normally you'd' have
four wires going in but...
You've looked for the manual online, of course?! (All laugh)
That's great - it would be a great prop, wouldn't it? Presses
button... "Kill them" ... What about the future
There could come a time when we're not able to get a hold of
stock but I don't think we will be in that situation anytime
And Retro is a rolling thing as well.
I think it is.
Could you keep your enthusiasm for 80s and 90s stuff?
I think so. The only problem I'd have with 80s and 90s is the
lack of style but I think you find that with your perception
of a lot of eras.
There are other avenues to go. You could do records, you could
do posters - we both have an interest in those anyway but when
you listen to kids today and they say "What's a
record?" it just makes me cry.
I was showing a kid a jukebox and they couldn't work out these
funny black CDs.
You've seen the vinyl-style CDs?
Yes. But as far as kids are concerned if you can't download
it, it doesn't exist. So there's no artwork.
No sleeve notes, which were important. So you Facebook and
Twitter and so on?
Does it work?
Slowly but surely. We're on Twitter and our friends collection
is growing in Facebook.
Yes, it works well.
I hate that thing at the start where you've no friends and no
(Laughs) You can always invite real friends and family to
start. We're up to thirty-something, it's a slow-burn. But
looking at the demographics of the site, your site pushes
quite a few through already.
Good. Thanks. There's a good mix of people coming into my site
- Joe public, wrinklies like me and youngsters who want to
reproduce the look. And other Retro businesses, of course. Can
you tell me a bit about all this Retro furniture that
The G-Plan furniture we have here is all beautiful and really
solid, you know? Nothing's veneered. There's no conti-board or
No flat pack furniture here.
The cupboard base over there we tried to move and the base had
come loose - it's actually a solid lump of teak.
It's got adjustable feet and is really cool because it's two
bases and two floating glass cupboards that you can hang at
different levels, so it's a bit like LadderEx in that respect.
Very cool. You can still pick up bargains. The thing is prices
are going up because people have cottoned on and Retro is a
term you hear all the time. If you look at a lot of the
advertising now you'll see placement of Retro items in ads.
They're taking the old designs and dropping them in. Itís
happening all over the place these days and we notice it more
because we're selling it.
Well, thanks, you two, for letting us have in insight into
your Retro world!
and Becky: Thanks David.
Welcome to Retro Bazaar, the
coolest place to hang out, shop and satisfy your cravings for
all things Retro!
We had spent many a cold day wandering around fairs delighting
in the odd item of retro we found, however it seemed to us
that people were selling the occasional piece amongst the
older antiques they had - there were no specialists.
So over a nice warming Americano at our favourite coffee shop
one winter's day, we hatched a plan, a grand plan of immense
proportions. Admittedly we've had to scale back the 3 storey
department store of retro, but you never know, one day maybe!
So we hit the internet, learning the intricacies of starting
your own business, and eventually found ourselves some
Throughout all this time we were travelling the length and
breadth of the country selling at any show that would have us,
admittedly some were better than others and problems and hold
ups got in the way, (like when the van broke down the first
time we used it!)
Move forward to the present day, and now that we have a
website, we're getting closer to world domination, but it's
going to take a couple more years! Frankly we're happy to
continue selling affordable retro to the masses, just as we
We hope you
enjoy our website, and if you see us at a show, please do say
Becky & Glynis
68 Alston Drive
T: 01908 310020