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No place like this

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 May 2014

© sghaywood photography

Antique, vintage, reloved or retro: whatever you call it old stuff is here to stay at Mr Scarecrow’s

Words by Chrissy Harris

Photography by Steven Haywood

It’s hard not to smile when a voice at the end of the phone says: “hello, Mr Scarecrow speaking”.

But then Nadeem Malik seems to like a bit of a laugh. We meet at his newly opened interiors shop Mr Scarecrow’s Warehouse in Stonehouse, Plymouth, where, to put it politely, things are a little chaotic.

There are beautiful art deco wardrobes being delivered, customers asking about vintage pictures and cups of tea being made. Oh and there’s a large black rabbit rustling around in cage at the back of the store.

All of this is perfectly normal for Nadeem, 44, who has just moved into this unit, which is just off Plymouth’s Union Street (rumour has it this is the city’s area to watch).

Mr Scarecrow, as he is otherwise known, opened Mr Scarecrow’s Attic in Hyde Park, Plymouth, in 1998 and is very excited about his latest venture.

The warehouse means he can stock more secondhand, chabby chic furniture in his new premises and open up his Hyde Park shop for vintage clothing and china, headed up by daughter Cheryl.

“There is just so much space in the new place,” says Nadeem. “We love our Hyde Park shop and people love coming to have a good old rummage around but when it involves climbing over furniture to get around, well, it’s a bit much.

“We needed more room.”

"People love coming to have a good old rummage around"

And they’re not short of room here in the 7,000-sq ft unit, which is already full of antique and shabby chic furniture.

It’s a retro-loving shopper’s dream and the perfect place to while away a Saturday morning.

It also marks something of a homecoming for Nadeem and his wife Rowan, who moved to Plymouth from Harrogate in Yorkshire in the mid-1990s to set up a floristry business in a section of this very same unit in Manor Street.

“We were selling floral arrangements for people, hotels and businesses,” says Nadeem. “But we soon discovered that people were more interested in the furniture the displays were on than the flowers themselves.

“We got a few bits together and it started from there. The Mr Scarecrow thing came about because there was a little straw scarecrow in one of the bunches of flowers we had. ”

Back then in 1998, Nadeem had hit on a trend for vintage furniture that shows no sign of slowing down 16 years later.

“Good quality antiques will never go out of fashion,” he says. “The eras might change a little. For-instance there’s a real trend for 1960s style pieces at the moment but art deco furniture and shabby chic pieces are always popular.”

Nadeem finds most of his stock though auctions, house clearances and the internet, plus the odd back alley find.

“The one that sticks in my mind was this beautiful Kentucky gun cabinet,” says Nadeem.

“We found it just lying in an alleyway in Plymouth – it even had the carpet in to stop the gun butts getting scratched. I took it in, did it up and sold it for £120.

“You don’t get many finds like that but it does happen.”

Has Mr Scarecrow always had an eye for vintage furniture then?

“Er…I used to be a cocktail barman, so you could say it’s something that has developed over time.

“I have always been interested in old furniture though. People ask what our house is like – it’s like this warehouse but with more plants.”

A steady stream of people from all walks of life come through the doors to have a look at the stock in the warehouse.

Some look like they know exactly what they’re looking for, others are just curious about what’s inside this bright turquoise building.

“It’s great to see people having a look,” says Nadeem. “It’s early days but I think we’re being talked about. People can come in and pick up a book for 50p or a bedroom set for £600. There’s something for everyone.”

It must be comforting for an expert like Mr Scarecrow to see people sharing his love for vintage furniture, despite the popularity of stores such as Ikea.

“Ikea?” says Nadeem. “They do absolutely lovely……ginger biscuits.” 
Mr Scarecrow’s Warehouse is in Manor Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth. 
Mr Scarecrow’s Attic is in Hyde Park Road. For more information, visit mrscarecrowsattic.co.uk

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