Homeware for him
Even from the footpath, you can tell this place is something different. The huge windows of homewear store Brown & Co, located on Wakefield St near the Museum Hotel, give a view into a world gone by.
Taxidermied creatures with their beady eyes and frozen stance cover every surface that isn’t already cluttered with curios like old fashioned fold-up wooden rulers, gold embossed packs of playing cards, or delicious flavoured toothpaste from Florence, Italy.
When owner Martin mentions that he is also a partner in Crane Brothers, the pieces fall into place. Brown & Co has the same refined masculine atmosphere, and this also explains his exceptionally dapper appearance.
I overhear a customer asking Martin about a stuffed pukeko perched on the large wall cabinet. That one is a particularly delicate specimum, and he directs her towards another one at the other end of the store, more suitable for purchase.
Martin tells her that most of the store’s stock comes from his personal collection of vintage pieces. “It wasn’t very ‘P.C.’ for quite a long time, but times have changed. It feels great to have them out of storage.”
At a table at the front window, there’s an array of scientific looking glassware getting a second chance at life. This lab gear is being snapped up and repurposed as vases or shot glasses.
There’s a small but perfectly formed selection of books on offer too, from Tracey Emin’s 1,000 Drawings to the Alexander McQueen paper doll book. And if it’s furniture you’re after, Brown & Co will tempt you with their hand picked mid-century items. These come via Christchurch’s Mr Mod, which has been in operation for 45 years and specialises in importing gorgeous Scandinavian retro furniture.
“I’m about old school retail. No social media, none of that stuff,” Martin tells me, a comment which makes perfect sense in a store where all the price tags are handwritten.
“Our stock turns over so quickly there’s no point in trying to keep a website up to date. Besides, we want people to enjoy the tactile experience, to be able to come here and feel the textures for themselves.”
And word of mouth is working well for them. The previous week Australian Vogue has paid a visit, covering the store in an upcoming issue.
Get along to Brown & Co before they’re swamped by fashionistas from across the ditch!