I’m a fan of shops crammed with unexpected treasures – artworks, handmade oddities and items you never knew you needed until you set eyes (and heart) on them. Recently I discovered the aptly named Little Shop, established on Cheltenham Road in Stoke’s Croft by artists Amber Elise and Alex Lucas.
Small though it is, it’s impossible to miss thanks to the mural of languid bunnies and pineapples.
In case you don’t know it, I should explain that Stoke’s Croft is one of Bristol’s most intriguing areas, with interesting cafés, quirky shops and masses of world-class street art. Well worth a wander, and a wonder!
“The Little Shop is in a great location!” enthuses Alex. “The mural adds the curiosity of the use of the building (hopefully!) and often people look through the window before entering the shop as they are not quite sure what it is. I like that curiosity and think it adds a little quirkiness to what we do. Of course, it was a different matter altogether when we were painting the mural in the middle of the night – we saw the whole 24hrs of the Stokes Croft life!”
The shop itself came about almost by chance as the two artists, who had already shared a studio space for almost four years, were offered a workspace that was previously a gallery.
“We knew that we could share a studio space, inspire one another and both had an interesting eye for other people’s artwork that is was a prime opportunity not to be missed!” explains Alex. “We have quite different tastes which hopefully appeals to a wide audience base. There’s a large spectrum of work from prints, baby grows, jewellery to woolly knitted cacti. We like the idea of appealing to lots of people’s different tastes – variety is the spice of life and all that…!”
She adds: “I think having such a small space makes you think really hard about how effectively it can be used; we wanted a thoughtful and considered space with a relaxed atmosphere where people feel comfortable browsing and exploring.”
The customers, and browsers, are a huge part of the pleasure of running The Little Shop.
“It’s really lovely to meet the people that wander into the shop –everyone usually has good interesting things to say and it’s also nice to be surrounded by so many beautiful things and inspired by fellow artists!”
To source the content of the shop, Amber and Alex are happy to be approached by artists with photos or samples of their artwork/product. “As it is a very small space, we do have to be quite choosy as there just isn’t enough room to fit everything in,” says Alex. “We’re now receiving applications from artists further afield, such as Nottingham and Lancashire, and even Barcelona, which is great! If anyone is interested in being part of the Little Shop, email us at thelittleshopinbristol(at)gmail.com and we’ll send you an application form and information with how the shop runs.”
The pair like to keep the shop’s contents fresh and varied, so every eight weeks they have a change-around, ensuring a hugely diverse array of artists can be seen – it’s definitely worth popping in each time you pass!