The Prop Shop: Give your shop display a facelift


Antiques for retail display

Photography Jean Goldmith

THE PRESS SAY: ‘the best antiques you’ve never seen’

WE SAY: Inspiring retail display objects, if you have time to look! If you don’t, simply visit the online ‘Prop Shop’ where we’ve done the searching for you’

Last month Time Out magazine blew the cover on the hidden secrets of Sunbury Antiques Market. So intense was the vitriol from its regular shoppers, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’d attempted an injunction against this traitorous act of ‘kiss and tell’. Time out describes it as ‘the best antique fair you’ve never seen’, and in fact the leaked gem has remained largely under the radar, till now. Boasting some 700 plus traders from all over Europe, who’d have known Sunbury’s been trading for over 42 years?  Bric-a-brac, antiques and vintage wares may have previously been seen as nothing more than ‘junk’, today they’re the ‘must have’ ticket item, not just for consumers but for retailers seeking the most authentic retail display solutions. Tim Wilkinson visited the market and explains how WBC’s new Prop Shop offers the perfect alternative to traipsing through the cold at 5am in the morning.

WBC's new prop shop for retail display and merchandising

WHO: WBC’s Tim Wilkinson & Andrew Wilson
WHAT: Sunbury Antique Market
WHERE: Kempton Park Racecourse, Sunbury
WHEN: One cold January morning 2012

On the last day of January, Andrew and I had an early start to get down to Kempton Racecourse to take a look around the Sunbury antiques market. The market opens from 6.30am and is pretty much done by about 12. You have to be up with the lark of day if you don’t want to go home empty-handed.

It was quite literally…. FREEZING!!

On arrival we met Sarah, an old friend of ours who visits lots of auctions and markets like this and has a great eye for vintage. Sarah sources most of the retail display and merchandising props we currently sell in the ‘Prop Shop’. She looks out for one-off pieces that can help local retailers who have limited time, create unique display concepts. These could be as simple as using small vintage bread tins as window displays, or more complex ideas like dressing walls with vintage fruit crates and wine bottles. The main aim of this trip was to get a better understanding of the things that are available and try to increase the range available for trade customers to buy direct from our web-store.

As we worked our way round the stalls, we were definitely under-dressed for the cold conditions. ‘Stalls’ is perhaps a grand overstatement as most items are sold out the back of a van or the boot of a car, and there is definitely a massive variety of items available. Whilst some of the antiques are very exciting, it’s clear the ‘treasure’ is well hidden amongst lots of tat; at times you wonder how some people manage to cover the £65 entrance fee.

Antiques and props for retail display

Photography Jean Goldsmith

We spotted antique coffee crates that looked like they came from Germany and vintage wooden strawberry trays that reminded me we were on the right track with the potato chitting trays we currently have available. We found some great vintage style castors that might well become part of the new retail display ideas we’re working on releasing later this year. My favourite object of the day was a large wooden ships wheel that I had my eye on. Lack of space and the £300 asking price meant it’s still available to whoever manages to find it again.

Props for retail display and merchandising

Large antique metal milk cans

Antique wooden crates can be found in the Prop Shop


While we thawed out over coffee, we decided it was definitely a worthwhile visit. You need an eagle-eye and patience to work your way around the market, but it’s definitely possible to find interesting items that would make great enhancements to your retail space. Alternatively, the time-poor can simply visit WBC’s brand new Prop Shop where you can take your pick from items we’ve painstakingly hand selected from various fairs and markets. Remember though, these are all one-off originals – so if you do see something you like, don’t hang about – just like Sunbury market, you have to get in there early!

Take me to the retail display and merchandising prop shop NOW

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. James Hayward at 12:23 pm

    Looking forward to seeing the pics of Tim down there today at 5am! I will definitely go and check this place out if I can get up early enough, otherwise I will just visit the prop shop!

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