Two weeks ago I was invited to attend the opening of the new Bert & Buoy shop in Dartmouth. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that Bert has decided to open a shop in my home town. Dartmouth is an absolutely beautiful town with some wonderful little independent shops and I am convinced that Bert & Buoy is a perfect new addition to our line up.
Opening a shop in a tourist destination like Dartmouth is certainly not straight forward though. The town is a bustling holiday destination in Spring and Summer with lots of great events taking place that really draw in the crowds. Us locals sometimes feel completely overrun in the warmer season but there is no denying that the town really does come to life at this time of year.
Winter is a different story though and it feels more like the town goes into a deep hibernation. The tourists slowly retreat back home toward the end of September, making a brief reappearance for October half term. It is extremely quiet and sleepy right up until Christmas. And parking is no longer a bloody nightmare!!
So as you can imagine, it can be a very difficult climate for small independent retailers who rely on the Spring/Summer season to see them through the rest of the year. But I am convinced that Bert & Buoy will rise to this challenge and smash it. The Bert & Buoy Dartmouth shop sells a great range of beautiful homewares, art and stationery all designed by Bert himself. His unique graphical style is a modern take on the popular nautical theme that always goes down well in coastal locations.
His products will appeal to second homeowners who rent out their properties to holiday makers looking for typical seaside accommodation. They will be popular with locals who want to give a nod to living by the sea in their own home without coming across too touristy and of course they will go down well with the tourists who are looking for souvenirs and mementos of their seaside getaway without opting for something too overtly touristy.
The opening day was really lovely. There was a bit of a buzz in town with people waiting to see what was opening in the place of the former fish mongers. A queue started forming outside in anticipation and as the doors opened there was barely room inside for everyone who had come along.
It was lovely to see all of Bert’s products brought together in one space. It really helps to tell the visual story of the brand seeing everything side by side like that in the Bert & Buoy Dartmouth shop.
The shop was opened by a special guest too. Keith Brymer-Jones is a potter and ceramic designer best known for his homeware range with retro lettering and punk motifs. Keith was also a judge in BBC2’s The Great Pottery Throw Down that aired back in 2015.
Independent shops are incredibly important for Britain’s high streets. Not only do they give customers a far more diverse and interesting offering, but they also define the individuality of any given high street. This new Bert and Buoy is one such store. I’m incredibly honoured and delighted to be a part of its creation.
Keith Brymer Jones, Ceramicist and Head of Design, MAKE International
Bert and Keith have collaborated on a beautiful range of mugs that combines Keith’s experience with ceramics with Bert’s fantastic designs. And according to my sources (yes, that’s Keith and Bert) there are more new product ranges currently in development. I’m really excited to see what they come up with next.
Bert’s designs lend themselves so well to homewares so I’m sure that his product range will expand to include many more beautiful products for our homes. Personally I’d really like to see placemats! I feel like there is a distinct lack of design-led placemats on the market. If anyone knows a good source please do share in the comments below.
Take a quick squizz at this little video of the opening of the Bert & Buoy Dartmouth shop and if you’d like some more in depth information about Bert & Buoy you can check out the interview I did with Bert here.