THE rich smell of history hits you upon entry to this quirky shop located in the trendy Castle Road in Southsea.
Upon glancing around the store, it quickly becomes apparent this is a shop with a difference – with it boasting an eclectic range of vintage items, works of art, ornaments, books and an array of highly sought after pre-1940s stuffed animals, among other things.
It’s the kind of independent shop that it at the heart of The News Love Your High Street campaign to boost and support local traders in the run-up to Christmas.
The shop, Brocante, means ‘junk’ in French. But what is one man’s junk is another’s treasure. And this shop along the iconic street of Southsea, which features only independent traders, offers an insight into why people love to shop in a bricks and mortar store rather than online.
You can’t feel, smell or see the grandeur of the accessories through a phone or computer screen, and that is what Love Your High Street campaign is all about.
With its French influence – with many of Brocante’s items being shipped over the Channel – this is a shop you could easily spend hours in, even if you did not buy anything.
Owner David Evens told The News the shop plods along but in the current climate he regards that as a success after five years of similar returns trading in the street.
‘It’s about keeping the status quo for me rather than being worried about trying to improve in this market,’ David said. ‘After 10 years of austerity people have forgotten how to spend money so for us it’s about keeping up with trends and getting prices right.
‘Having a good location is everything and we are very lucky where we are because we are situated in a good spot, though of course the better position you are in the council take more off you.
‘We have three big markets down the street every year which makes a big difference to us as it brings in a lot of footfall on those occasions with people then coming back here afterwards. Other events on Southsea Common like Victorious Festival also help a lot.’
The street also benefits from part of the cultural hub of the city where people want to visit. ‘Actor Peter Sellers were born down the road while the Sherlock Holmes author Conan Doyle ran a doctor’s surgery down here at Elm Grove,’ David said.
Things you may not think would sell, can do very well, such as the menacing French wild boar’s head positioned on the wall. ‘These are very popular with tattoo artists. It’s all about diversity.’
So if you want a Victorian desk slope made out of the very finest oak or a sewing machine made in 1900 or a glamorous stone sculptures, or anything else for that matter, then Brocante is the place for you.