At the beginning of our recent few days in Northumberland we stopped off in the small town of Corbridge.
“We’re here,” I said, as we parked up in front of a rather uninspiring rural petrol station. My husband shot me one of his familiar “where have you brought us now?” looks.
But wonderful things are yet more rewarding when they’re hidden, unexpected, so good they don’t need to shout about themselves to every passer-by.
I’d come across this store a couple of times online and in magazines and have been waiting for a chance to visit.
Head down the alleyway to the left of the petrol pumps and you’ll find a converted workshop that is home to RE, a home accessories shop created by fashion design colleagues turned business partners Simon Young and Jenny Vaughan.
In the long hours the pair spent travelling for work, they would pass the time asking: if you had a shop, what would you sell? After several months, and increasingly serious answers, they found two large metal letters that became their shop’s moniker at a Paris flea market. RE was born in 2003.
If it must be called something, RE is a lifestyle store, but it doesn’t sit easily in a category or pigeon hole. As they say on their website, you can’t describe what you’ll find at RE, you can’t easily summarise its concept or shoehorn its philosophy into a paragraph.
Inspired by shops they’d seen around the world, Simon and Jenny created an Aladdin’s cave, a treasure trove for adults, an eclectic collection of home accessories.
Some of it is new, some self-designed, old, recycled or restored. Items that are for everyday use, but are anything but mundane. Unusual, individual and a refreshing alternative to the identikit high street. And while some things are in the ‘special purchase’ price bracket, most of it is remarkably affordable.
You can shop online – they have a thriving mail order business, with thousands of customers (including one Kiera Knightley, who bought a cart for her garden) – but visiting this colourful emporium in person is much more fun and I strongly recommend it. It is intended to be a destination shop, which is sought out and visited especially.
I loved exploring RE. It’s more of an experience or emporium than a shop, akin to The Imaginarium in York, but with a totally different style. Have you heard of any other shops like this that you think I’d like?
Do you like the look of RE? Or have you ever been?