Bustling through crowds, elbowing strangers, knocking over children (accidentally, I swear!), Christmas shopping can be a nightmare; but Store 51 offers something different. Entering Nottingham Lace Market’s freshest pop-up store, I am embraced by authentically exposed bricks, a roaring fire and a unique inventory able to amplify my creativity and diminish my finances in one fell swipe. It doesn’t get better than this, I think. And that’s when someone offers me a glass of mulled wine.
I’m here to interview James Thomas, James Kellett and Adam Spinos; the three business brains behind Store 51. With tonight’s post-work Christmas Shopping Experience in full swing, I find Spinos in the coffee lounge – large, impressive and sponsored by independent cinema, Broadway – and Kellett serving some of the store’s high-end clientele: “Maybe start with the other James,” Kellett suggests apologetically.
Set across four floors and 640-sqm, Store 51 – though undoubtedly ‘pop-up’ in duration (mid-November until Christmas) – does not feel ‘pop-up’ in size. Sourcing over 30 different retailers, Store 51 boasts original artwork, clothing, accessories, gourmet chocolates, vintage suitcases, sparkly skulls and balloon-dog statues, to name but a few of the eclectic products on offer: “Something you’re not going to see in Topman or Debenhams,” James Thomas laughs, as I find him upstairs.
At the tender age of 22, Thomas is co-owner (with Kellett, 23) of ‘Prisma’, a street-wear brand he founded in 2013 whilst studying entrepreneurship at university. “I was meant to get a placement, but they all seemed really boring,” Thomas explains, “I wanted my own business anyway, so I thought I might as well set one up.” His partnership with Kellett – also studying entrepreneurship - came later, born out of a mutual love for music and “a bottle of wine, well... a few bottles of wine,” Thomas adds, mischievously.
Following six months running their own shop and events, Prisma moved to a Basford-based studio where they continue to design, sell and run events whilst also screen-printing for a growing range of clients. Their brief shop-stint, however, did not go unnoticed. Spinos, when faced with closing his creative boutique ‘Dezigne’ for two weeks whilst away, asked the boys to step in: “We basically saved his business,” Kellett later tells me teasingly, intending for Spinos to overhear.
When Spinos was later presented with the chance to temporarily occupy the gorgeous Georgian building we find ourselves in, he embarked on Store 51, knowing just who he wanted to join him on the project. “We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into,” Thomas explains casually. “We came along and saw this building and thought ‘how on earth are we going to fill this?’ but within two weeks we had put a coffee shop downstairs and had got loads of retailers involved.”
“I haven’t got a clue about retail,” Spinos laughs referring to his background in electronic and lighting design; his thick Athens accent undiluted by his 20-odd years living in the UK. “It’s like, let’s dive in and see how it goes.” Kellett agrees: “Anything that comes up that is a bit different, we are always keen to try… we are not deterred by the fact we haven’t done it before - it’s quite fun actually.”
Though alluding to some tedious till-stints and incredibly lengthy hours, ‘fun’ seems an apt word to describe Store 51. “We just wanted to make the most of a really good space,” Thomas explains, describing weekly open-mic nights, live gigs, drama performances, song writing showcases and a forthcoming retro arcade night that the venue will host. “It’s like a hub for a lot of different people coming together, making contacts,” Kellett says of his favourite aspect of the store. “If we were in our studio every day we are not going to meet anyone and nothing new is going to happen.”
The search for something new seemingly permeates all these guys do; so what’s next? Spinos has plans to continue to run Dezigne and his non-for-profit enterprise The Nottingham Workshop, but the future for the Prisma boys looks a little more fluid. “I’m a short-term kind of guy,” Thomas smiles, “so we’ll see.” Kellett answers with ambitious flair: “Make as much money as we can and go travelling… No plans, no return flight – just go and see what we can do, find some interesting opportunities.” If Prisma and Store 51 are anything to go by, then if the boys don’t find opportunities, my guess is they’ll make them.
Listen to the Prisma Boys’ Playlist, created exclusively for PETRIe here.
Visit Store 51 today at 3-4 Kayes Walk Nottingham Lace Market, NG1 1PY.
Words: Elizabeth Neep
Photography: Meg Elizabeth Shaw