Paul Boorman outside his Islington shop.

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Islington, North London

In the continuing series looking through the keyhole of ‘bricks and mortar’ shops in 2017, ATG talks to Paul Boorman, owner of Paul’s Emporium: Islington Antiques in Islington, North London. What’s your shop’s history?

I started my business in 1990. I’m an upholsterer by trade and I was doing clearances and markets before I opened the shop in 2004 – it was what I’d always wanted to do.

How did you chose your location?

I was already supplying two shops in this area and when they both closed due to retirement I decided it was my turn, and I rented the space. I’ve always enjoyed the diversity and character of this area.

What are the advantages of having a permanent location?

I can have more stock and it’s always on display, customers and people with items to sell can just drop by and I get to trade in a part of London where fairs aren’t readily available.

How many staff are there?

One: me. I also use freelancers for collections and deliveries and get help if I’m doing a fair.

How has the passing trade changed since you’ve been open?

The whole market has moved on and is less traditional than it was but I enjoy the challenge of moving with it and the constant learning curve.

As for the passing trade, it hasn’t changed that much – and none of my regulars look a day older.

Given an unlimited budget what change would you make?

I’d buy this shop and the one next door, knock them through and expand.

Why is it a good idea for buyers to go to shops as opposed to, say, auctions or fairs?

I think the auctions have all become retail now and everything is online, whereas 90% of my stock isn’t.

So if you come in you have a genuine chance of buying freshto- market items (I really do have new stock every day). Plus you get to hear selections from my fantastic vinyl record collection.

What’s the biggest challenge working in a shop?

It’s the same for every shopkeeper – ever-increasing overheads, not enough hours in the day and maintaining professionalism in the face of rudeness.