Our man Ben meets Corinne Mynatt, author of 'Tools for Food' and the owner of all the incredible tools for food featured in our concurrent exhibitions in Shoreditch and Marylebone. Ben and Corinne talk French items in this episode.
Our man Ben, assistant manager of our shops at Labour and Wait, has a keen eye and a full brain when it comes to discerning good, timeless products. Listening to him extoll the virtues of a Guernsey sweater or a Riess enamel milk pot have become part of the fabric of walking into our shops. But with many not able to make it to Shoreditch or Marylebone either due to the pandemic or simply just living in London, we have put together some short videos on our Instagram page of Ben talking thoroughly about a product or topic, sure to beguile you!
Brown paper packages, rubber stamps and the paraphernalia of the post office have an enduring appeal. This pillar of the community supports another side of LABOUR AND WAIT: our mail order service. During the busy months of November and December, we all rely on this venerable institution to make sure Christmas is delivered on time.
Packed to the rafters with all manner of bits and bobs, haberdashery shops are endlessly beguiling. The raw materials for many craft projects can be found here, as well as customers deep in thought... so many decisions to be made! The ultimate goal could be a simple repair, or even the realisation of a dream to create something totally unique. ‘Make do and mend’ has never seemed so appealing!
The chemist has always held a certain fascination.The dispensary has air of alchemy; a repository of all sorts of potions and lotions, suggesting that here is a cure for all ailments. The pharmacist is a master of discretion – both trusted and respected. At the first hint of a sniffle, the dispensary can prove indispensable.
We have always had a ‘thing’ for stationery. A true staple of the high street, the stationer’s can often be the catalyst for many a creative endeavour. Who can resist those pots of pencils, boxes of rubbers, and neatly ordered stacks of sketchbooks? We all remember the excitement of fresh exercise books and geometry sets at the beginning of a new school term.
The gaudy colours of a sweet shop are something of an assault on the senses! The visual ‘noise’ created by the packaging and colours of different brands is all but deafening. The neat rows of pick ‘n’ mix sweets in jars create some order amidst the chaos. The smell of a traditional sweet shop can sometimes evoke a Proustian moment!
Though not strictly speaking a shop, most people need a garage at some point. There are certain tasks where only an expert will do. The mechanics themselves are often only half visible, plunging head first into an engine or disappearing under a chassis. The distinctive aroma of fuel, oil and rubber divides opinion, but we love it!
A visit to a good fishmonger can be like a lesson in marine biology! Who knew what extraordinary creatures lived under the sea? They are fascinating (and sometimes terrifying), to contemplate.The fishmonger’s is a wet and chilly world, where rubber aprons and boots offer some protection from the icy produce.
How much more appealing to browse the shelves of a good grocer’s, than to be faced with the bland, generic interior of a supermarket. Tried and tested brands are stocked, together with a selection of local produce. The goods on offer will often have a seasonal bias, inspiring recipes and ensuring variety. A good grocer’s can make food shopping a pastime rather than a chore.
Grow your own! A garden shop can be the gateway to horticultural heaven.The green-fingered amongst us will feel at home here, but even the enthusiastic beginner will find everything they need to bring nature that bit closer to home. From houseplants to allotments, we all need a bit more green in our lives, don’t we?
Although not to everyone’s taste, the skill of a highly trained butcher amounts to an art. In a classic striped apron and wielding a panoply of terrifying tools, a knowledgeable butcher will advise on the best cuts for specific recipes, then prepare them with finesse.
The smell of freshly baked bread is hard to beat, evoking contentment and warmth. Few can resist the lure of a good baker’s shop, with its tempting array of bread and cakes. The bakers have been hard at work for hours by the time we arrive to survey the fruits of their labour. How could we survive without our daily bread?
Ironmonger’s and hardware shops were really the starting point for LABOUR AND WAIT. We have always been fascinated by the variety of practical goods on offer: kitchen gadgets, tools and of course brushes! This type of shop is very close to our heart with its wealth of functional products for every domestic chore.
In what will be our twentieth year, the LABOUR AND WAIT calendar is a clarion call for the salvation of traditional high street shops and services. These unpretentious businesses were the original inspiration behind LABOUR AND WAIT, where quality goods are for sale, and interaction with the shopkeeper is a part of the retail experience.
As the months progress, our 2020 calendar is a tribute to these shops, their owners and to the wealth of products and expertise they offer. We hope that small independents can somehow weather the storm to reclaim their rightful place as pillars of their local communities.
Our 2020 calendar is available to purchase now, and will be posted out in July. In the meantime, here are some behind the scenes images of the making of 'Shop Talk':