Nestled between the houses on a residential street in Lewisham, there is an odd window display. As you step in through the doorway, the smell of coffee and the sight of bric-a-brac grabs attention.
Deptford Quirk, in Florence Road in, obviously, Deptford, is an antique and coffee shop that celebrates the “weird and wonderful” and is home to a wide range of oddities, from vintage clothing for adults and babies, a huge oil painting of a happy clown with a chimpanzee and teapots and figurines.
As you enter the shop, you are able to see next door into the storage area through huge glass windows catching a glimpse of the impressive collection of hanging feather dusters, a hammock, and a huge fur coat. All of which are also for sale.
Store owner Rita Kvist Bartholomew, who has lived in Deptford for the nine years, explained how she came to run such a strange shop: “Through years of loving strange things, I naturally find unusual things. I just want to find the things that you don’t see every day.”
Before opening the shop thirty-three-year old Bartholomew, who moved to London 15 years ago after growing up in Norway, lived and worked as a host at the Bedford, a music venue, in Balham; ran her own music night in a Hammersmith club as well as working in cafes, all of which she gave up when she became a mother. Once her two children were of school age, instead of going back to working for others Bartholomew decided to focus on opening up what is now Deptford Quirk.
Although it seems odd for a coffee shop to be inside an antique shop, it works, giving the shop a different feeling and allowing time for browsing she explained: “At first it was going to be a place of strange things. But then I thought, why not have a place to sit down, chill, look out the window and look at the things around and think about life.”
The coffee comes from Peckham’s own Old Spike roastery. Bartholomew explained: “They are locally sourced, plus they support homeless people in London by training them and hiring them, they also help them get back into basic society including getting credit cards and finding a home.”
Helping people in the local community is also a part of Deptford Quirk’s ethos. “Next year I am interested in letting people use the spaces for art pieces in Deptford X [the local arts festival] or even showing peoples art on the walls year round.”
So what is her favorite item? Batholemew grabs a brown cat called Mr Brown: “He has become a mascot of sorts, as you can see I have used him in the advert. But he isn’t for sale.”
At the moment the shop is open only on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:30 am to 3 pm. Only open for a month, she has kept the shop quiet with little publicity as she sets up, referring to it as her ‘secret’. As the business grows she plans to open the store on Saturdays if she can find the staff, as well as adding Norwegian waffles to the menu to give customers a taste of her home country and opening up the back area as a secret garden.