Kirsty Love has a real passion for the Hampton Court Emporium, inherited from her mum and nana. Here she shares her childhood memories, the spirit of Bridge Road and tales of Downton Abbey.
Words | Lucy Donoughue
Kirsty Love and I are perched on an empty display area at the back of the Hampton Court Emporium, surveying the scene around us. There are beautiful, quirky, and eye-catching items as far as the eye can see. From vintage chairs, to pre-loved jewellery, delicate bone china to collector’s item books, the Emporium has everything you might want, or never knew you needed until you saw it.
Kirsty exudes a special kind of passion for the Emporium and speaks lovingly about working there. It’s in her maternal blood, she explains, as she’s followed in the trading footsteps of both her nana and mum, Sally McCulloch…
What’s your history with The Hampton Court Emporium?
I’ve been running around this shop since I was 4, so over 36 years! My dad was a footballer who played for Sheffield Wednesday, and I was born in Sheffield, but when he was transferred to Crystal Palace we moved back to Molesey, where my mum was born and grew up.
Mum was a hairdresser at the time, trained by the actual Vidal Sasoon and she’d always dabbled in antiques but she really picked it up again when she came back to Molesey. Her parents ran an off license back then but my nana was one of those people who could look at an antique and know it was good, but not why. Whereas my mum would do all the research, and her knowledge was far superior to mine and nana’s. At that time, the Emporium took up three floors of this building and mum and nan started trading here by sharing a room on the first floor.
I’d always be in or around the Emporium. After school, I’d go to the newsagents, get a packet of crisps and a ribena and then sit across the road, by what used to be Natwest (which is now In Harmony) and they’d both watch over me from out of the window!
How did you come to work here?
I started working here as a teen, and I always say that it will be my first and last job. I think my enthusiasm for dealing came from just walking around and looking at pieces when it was quieter, and getting a feel for them. I first started with vintage bags and when a small section came up, I took it on. Then I was offered a role as Duty Manager, and it all grew from there really. Sadly Mum passed away, so I took on her section as well as one we used to share.
How did last year impact the Emporium?
We were incredibly lucky because the local community was so supportive of us. They would put notes through the door saying that they’d seen items in the window they’d like to buy. So we started click and collect and local deliveries – I felt like Postman Pat! The local community really kept us afloat and we’re so grateful for that.
What’s the Bridge Road business community like?
Although the type of shops have changed since I was little, the feeling hasn’t. We have a Whatsapp group so that we can chat and support each other. I love being on the street and I use the shops, cafes and restaurants down here all the time. We’re so spoiled for choice; the food from Mezzet is amazing, JP from Petit Nantais is lovely – we had my dad’s 70th there, Bonjour Tailoring and Dry Cleaners do all my alterations and Buba’s windows are always beautiful. I get ribbons from Creative Quilting, Michelle in Mercado has done an incredible job there and I go to her for presents and to Christian at Mocka for a takeaway coffee. He knows my order by heart!
Are you looking forward to being fully open this Christmas?
Yes, it will be wonderful! Last year we decided to open late one evening, as it turned out just a couple of days before the Christmas lockdown was announced. Absolutely nobody came in, then one woman came through the doors, and told us she was pleased we were still open as she was buying for a film set. She picked the most beautiful things and although she couldn’t tell me what film she was buying for, it seemed like the Downton Abbey era.
We’ve had prop buyers from Downton Abbey in here before, as well as from Eastenders. A couple of months ago, the antiques trader on the Eastenders market held up a potty that had been bought from here. We always spot our pieces!
The wonderful thing is that we get all sorts of people coming to shop at the Emporium and we love helping them find what they’re looking for.
Check out The Hampton Court Emporium for gifts for any occasion.
They will help you pick the perfect gift for every milestone and celebration.
The Hampton Court Emporium, Bridge Rd, East Molesey KT8 9HA
Follow on Instagram @hamptoncourtemp and Kirsty’s own account @kt8_emporium_online