Hidden Gems – STUFF in Croydon

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Croydon. Not the most exciting place in the world.

Sorry, if you live there, but it’s really not. I stayed there over London Fashion Week, because one of it’s prime advantages is it’s cheap and only 15 minutes by train to London Victoria.

I really love it when you find amazing things in unexpected places and that’s what happened at the weekend, when, hidden among the chain restaurants and slightly ropey pubs I found STUFF.

STUFF used to be the huge record store BEANOS, but when it closed in August last year owner David Lashmar began looking for a new use for such an amazing huge space in the busy town centre.

I wandered in off the street early on Sunday morning (11am is early on a Sunday, ok!) and could have easily spent an hour admiring the decor before I even got as far as the stalls.

Every single space is crammed with vintage ephemera and the most random and bizarre objects, from vintage cinema seats on the stairs to car bumpers on the railings.

Even the roof space is nice to look at.

My reward for making it up 3 flights of stairs was a cup of coffee in an adorable retro cafe on the top floor and a cup cake from one of the stall holders, Cakes by Gen.

As I sat and sipped I picked up a few STUFF Croydon postcards. These feature such outstanding architecturally valuable masterpieces as the Croydon Flyover, Nestle Tower and the Croydon Municipal Offices. On the back there is a valuable tick list of reasons to visit Croydon, including:

“Kate Moss came from Croydon and then left, so did Katie Melua and Dane Bowers”

“Croydon is a monument to 1960’s town planning – concrete is cool”


“Croydon is the largest London borough. Everyone knows biggest is always best.”

With reasons like that I’m surprised I could bring myself to leave.

There appeared to be network cables, so I think you could probably rock up with your laptop and work (which I shall remember next time I’m in Croydon and the hotel want to charge me £6 for internet access that doesn’t come with cake)

What you can certainly do is shop, and on the way back down the stairs I admired some hand made brass kaleidoscopes from Roys Kaleidoscopes, adorable kitschy cute vintage style jewellery from Coucou Heart and the BEST chocolates from Indulgence confectionery. I also discovered SH creations on the ground floor, who I’ve been following on Twitter for a while, it’s a small world, etc etc!

Since I’ve come home I’ve received some more information about STUFF. It’s only been open since 29th January and already has a fantastic array or products and services on offer, from fashion to aromatherapy massage. The philosophy of STUFF is keep the products available as eclectic and varied as possible as well as making starting a business easy for those who sell there. Rates are incredibly reasonable and include electricity, security, broadband, and anything else you could need, sellers can just move straight in with their stock.

I shall certainly be popping back in next time I’m in Croydon as I’m excited to see how it evolves.

You can find more more information on stalls and selling at STUFF here
26 Responses
  • Fiona - Notorious Kitsch
    February 24, 2010

    That place looks fab! I would love to find somewhere like that as a outlet for Notorious Kitsch too!

    • Retro Chick
      February 24, 2010

      I was thinking what a great place it would be, I wish they would become a chain and expand all over Southern England!

  • melissa
    February 24, 2010

    I originally come from Croydon too ( does this make me as cool as Kate Moss )

  • Maddy
    February 24, 2010

    I love exploring new towns and finding (like you said) unexpected places! Glad you founds some cool shops to visit!
    .-= Maddy´s last blog ..Be Inspired! =-.

  • Alice
    February 24, 2010

    Cool! This post reminded me of a friend of mine who bought an old red TV frame and used it as an actual frame by putting a pot of flowers where the screen used to be!
    .-= Alice´s last blog ..Thrifted Ralph Lauren Pants =-.

    • Retro Chick
      February 25, 2010

      Ah that’s cool! What a great idea

  • Miss Peelpants
    February 24, 2010

    Oh nooooo, don’t give me a reason to go to Croydon – I can’t stand it there. Gah! 😉

  • Fi Phillips
    February 24, 2010

    I wish that place had been around when I lived in Croydon. Maybe not – I would have spent all my time and money there.

  • Rebecca @ Cubic Dreams
    February 24, 2010

    WOW how interesting! I live in Bromley which is the one borough across from Croydon so I’ll check out this place. I agree that Croydon isn’t the most scenic of places.. hehe. I knew Beanos was closing down (there’s been a closing down sign for about 3 years, crazy!) and this place looks intriguing… Maybe I’ll visit this weekend! Thanks for this great post.
    .-= Rebecca @ Cubic Dreams´s last blog ..Light-filled attics =-.

    • Retro Chick
      February 25, 2010

      I think I’d heard of Beanos. I was never a big record collector or anything, so wasn’t really my type of place.

      I think STUFF is worth a look, there’s some empty stalls at the moment, but hopefully it will fill up fairly quickly!

  • BigMart
    February 24, 2010

    Maybe I shall come down from Brent Cross and see what Stuff has to offer!

  • joanna
    February 25, 2010

    See i sadly have to disagree!

    There’s nothing in there you can’t get anywhere else! Every time I’ve been in there since it opened, it’s been utterly dead.

    I do hope it takes off and the stalls fill up soon though! Maybe it’s a diamond in the rough.

    • Retro Chick
      February 25, 2010

      There were a few empty stalls, but I was really pleased with what I found there when I turned up, and the people and stall holders were so friendly too.

      It seemed like they’d made a real effort to make it a nice place to spend time. It has only been open less than a month!

    • Tim Fisher
      March 3, 2010

      Sadly I also have to disagree, well with some of this post anyway.

      You say there is nothing in there you cannot get anywhere else in Croydon?

      Ok what about Sallys hat’s, the amazing eco friendly vegetable ivory hand made jewelery, Shelly’s hand made baby clothes, Helen’s beautiful fine art prints and photos, Gemstones unique Pagan stuff, Aggys wonderful sauces, Jens amazing cakes, the unique T shirts, an amazing stained glass artist who has just taken a stall
      (opening on the 15th of March) and much more besides not to mention the freshest best quality hand made chocolates made by an award winning patissier and chocolatier, which is me actually.
      Everything in my shop is hand made and disappears very quickly I have many repeat customers raving about the difference between the flavour and freshness and the usual shop bought nasty chocolates currently available in every big shop in town.
      Every trader in STUFF is unique and has things in it you cannot buy in Croydon yes you can buy chocolate but bring some in and see if it is half as good or as fresh as mine?
      This venture set up by Dave Lashamr and his wonderful team will succeed for one main reason STUFF CROYDON is the alternative to the bland, faceless, couldn’t care less shopping experience you get when going to an outlet in a large shop just about everywhere in Croydon where the person serving you knows nothing about the product and provides poor customer service.
      Many customers have said this is so refreshing and such a change from the usual and it will get better as more traders come in and we get a better range of products on offer

      Re your point about the place being dead, I half agree with this comment, the answer will be provided when we see more stalls full and open more often and that will take time and yes it is a point that has been mentioned and I am sure that will improve.
      We would love to see a vintage clothes shop, a decent bookshop and dare i say it a vinyl expert who has a record stall any enquiries come in and see Tim Soar who I warn you only wants unique excellent traders no time wasters please!

      I hope you come back into STUFF and have another look I welcome you to come and say hello and I would be delighted to offer you some free chocolate and a cup of tea

      Tim Fisher Indulgence Confectionery
      Unit G Ground Floor STUFF
      A proud and happy tennant

  • reddy
    February 25, 2010

    shame you just dug your head out of the sand and discovered Croydon and Beanos – it’s been there for 15 years in that building with all that retro stuff going on. Most of your discription of the place is full of the sort of trivial cliches most people say about the place but don’t know it. How superficial are you?

    • Retro Chick
      February 25, 2010

      Wow, who knew the fact that I’d walked into a shop that has only been open since the end of January could inspire such vitriol?

      Sorry if it offended you in some way. What would you have rather I’d said? I had a lovely Sunday wandering round the place and wanted to share is all!

    • Caroline
      February 25, 2010

      ooooo… chill. Excellent blog! hope Stuff does well. Sounds fun, will check it out next time I am in the area!

    • Tim Fisher
      March 3, 2010

      I feel I have to reply to this too.

      The lovely Gemma is giving her opinion on her impression the first time she found STUFF how could she say anything else but her first impression?

      Using cliches or not she gave a wonderful and accurate report on the feel of the building which still being owned by the same man who owned Beanos its hardly surprising its got the same feel about it or the same retro gear

      It makes a change to hear an upbeat review from a true shopper rather than encounter the 10 record collectors who walk in every day and ask where the vinyl is and when told that Beanos closed last July then promptly walk out as they have no desire to look at what has changed.
      Very odd when you consider that there have been numerous newspaper articles, a post on the BBC web site and lots of features.
      What wrong with retro shopping and spening a day browsing in STUFF enjoying a coffee without a rude assistant wanting to kick you out
      The decor inside STUFF is retro, fun, nostalgic, warm and reminds all of us of an age when shops were exciting, customer service was engaging and when shops sold stuff we actually wanted to buy because shopping should be fun
      Long may it continue for those of us who hate uniformity and blandness

  • Piper
    February 25, 2010

    I love exploring new places…and especially coming across a hidden gem. It’s always so exciting! And the cafe – so charming, I’m drooling over the cupcakes 🙂
    .-= Piper´s last blog ..{chuckle out loud} =-.

    • Retro Chick
      February 25, 2010

      The one with sprinkles was vanilla. But the other was banana, it was yummy!

  • reddy
    March 13, 2010

    Sadly Tim I think you got it wrong. You should of used the Great Gear Market and Kensington Market (which are now defunct) as templates. Yes, there is a lot of retro but there is no mystique about the place. You could of made it more Victorian, fog and grime. There are not enough clothing stalls that are doing something different to the high street. Just what you get in Trams, incense and tatoos.

    • Helen
      March 16, 2010

      It would seem to me that you have a tendency to walk around with your eyes shut. Comparing Stuff marketplace to tramms (yes they did spell it with two m’s)is like comparing Lennon and McCartney to jedward (but I suppose that’s the kind of thing one expects from someone who uses the word ‘of’ instead of ‘have’). Many people in Stuff have put alot of time and hard work into what they do, most of them make many of their goods themselves, me included. Sorry, but being put on a par with ‘tramms’ is more than a little insulting to us traders

    • Tim Fisher
      March 17, 2010

      I was referring to the comment that somebody said there wasn’t anything in there you couldnt get anywhere else.
      I said you cannot buy Sallys hats, my chocolates, Helens painting etc that was the comment I was talking about and comparing a 6 week old market to the ones you mentioned is a narrow minded moot point because decent markets evolve and grow they aren’t “cool and stuff of legend” overnight. Stuff will become a great market and yes we need more cool stuff and we will get it but dont compare our market to Tramms thats like saying my chocolates are like thorntons or cadburys, now that is an insult!!

  • reddy
    March 30, 2010

    thats my point – because you put a lot of hard work into it does not make it necessarily good. thats my opinion, sorry you can’t seem to take that. putting loads of retro junk in there as decor does not guarantee the place will be ‘cool’. just looks desperate to me.

    • Retro Chick
      March 30, 2010

      Oh hello, you again.

      Well, I thought it was a cool place, I enjoyed my time there. Those chocolates are DEFINTELY the best I’ve ever had.

      Shall we leave it there. Yes, I think we shall 😀

      Comments are now closed on this post I’m afraid. My apologies if you’ve got something to add, I just felt that everyone appears to have got their opinion across and it’s just going to turn into a row.

      Retro Chick is a happy place for happy people (or grumpy people that WANT to be happy people)