Regulars return to antiques shop
- Credit: Marcia Riddington
Smoking Monkey Antiques is one of the independent businesses on St John’s Street in Bury St Edmunds which is welcoming back customers after lockdown.
It has been a lifelong dream of Marcia Riddington’s to own an antiques shop, and four years ago that dream came true.
Marcia, the owner of Smoking Monkey Antiques in Bury St Edmunds, said: “Since I was about seven, I’ve wanted an antiques shop. But I’ve always had to do a sensible job for the money.
“When I retired from my proper job, I thought I would have fun.”
She opened the antiques shop on St John’s Street in the town in 2016 then, earlier this year, she shut the shop a week before the coronavirus lockdown started.
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“I felt it was the right thing to do,” she explained. “It was the first time I have considered myself to be a vulnerable older person.”
She reopened the shop on Friday, June 19. “It’s actually quite good now,” she said. “All of the old customers are coming back, which is really lovely.”
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Marcia says she has also welcomed British tourists who are in the area on staycations.
“People have started doing their Christmas shopping,” she added. “They are worried about another lockdown and getting out while they can.”
Smoking Monkey Antiques is a treasure trove of affordable collectables.
“When I opened, I didn’t want it to be a high-end shop, where there were things people couldn’t afford to buy,” Marcia said.
“I don’t sell any large items like furniture, just the occasional chair or table. I sell decorative and useful items.”
The items she chooses have proven popular with customers.
“When I go out buying, I never look for anything specific. I just buy what catches my eye,” she said. “Fortunately, they appeal to other people.”
Marcia also rents spaces out to other traders, who sell everything from vintage tools to horse-related antiques.
Customers range in ages, as Marcia explained: “What is nice is that we have a lot of young customers, and I stock things they can buy with their pocket money. That’s the thrill, you can have a good rummage.”
She says she likes to keep people surprised with what she stocks in the shop.
“Sometimes they’re a bit shocked, in a nice way,” she said. “I once had a ventriloquist’s dummy in the shop. Some people ran out of the shop when they saw it, some people loved it.”
The dummy sold, and Marcia recently bought another ventriloquist’s dummy, which she may keep for herself.
“It’s sitting on my desk - it hasn’t got as far as the shop floor,” she said.
Marcia has put several measures into place to ensure safe shopping for customers.
“Six weeks before I opened, I went into the shop and made more space for people,” she explained.
Hand sanitiser is available, and both the front and back door will be open as long as the weather allows it.
Marcia provided masks before it was mandatory for people to wear them, too.
“If we’re sensible, we won’t be locked down again,” said Marcia.
“It’s been really nice watching St John’s gradually reopen,” she concluded. “All of the independent shops have come back to life.”
Smoking Monkey Antiques is at 55 St John’s Street, Bury St Edmunds. The shop is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm.
For more details, go to www.smokingmonkey.co.uk