I first came across Labour and Wait on Instagram (of course!) and I finally got the chance to visit the shop a couple of weeks ago. It’s located on Redchurch Street in east London, one of Shoreditch’s (and London’s) coolest streets home to some of the capital’s most stylish shops, restaurants and cafes. In essence, Labour and Wait is a hardware store but it’s a hardware store that sells good-looking home goods that are timeless and functional.
Located in an old Truman pub that was once called the Dolphin, the shop has kept the shiny dark green tiles that were once popular with Victorian era pubs. Inside, the store is stylish and simple selling well-designed functional tools.
Labour and Wait was first started by Rachel Wythe-Moran and Simon Watkins in 2000 based on the idea that if something is well-designed, it doesn’t need to be changed. Similarly, if something is well made, it doesn’t need to be replaced. This is why you’ll find Labour and Wait stocked with all manner of functional tools including trowels and brooms, buckets and thermos flasks, linen towels and heavy cotton canvas aprons. Today, the shop is one of London’s leading independent stores.
There’s a definite sense of nostalgia and yesteryear here; where else can you pick up a ostrich-feather duster or the type of dry-goods measuring jug that I remember seeing in my nana’s kitchen? And, in our throwaway culture, there is something really pleasing about seeing a proper metal dustpan and brush that you know will actually work.
The owners take great care curating their wares; they recently took stock of some grey felt German slippers, a process which apparently took five years because they wanted to make sure they got precisely the right ones.
Some of their most popular items include their enamelware, including the bread bin that you can see in the above photo, their traditional Welsh blankets and the incredible number and variations of string that they stock! Apparently the owners first bonded over their shared passion for simple every day items such as beautiful string. Other favourites include the colourful enamel milk pots and cups, the polka-dot handkerchiefs, their functional but stylish notebooks, and more.
It’s a small store but you can easily spend a lot of time here looking over every item. It’s also a great place to come for gifts and you know that anything bought from here is guaranteed to last. If you like the look of Labour and Wait, then you’ll love the Urban Flower Co.
Labour and Wait can be found at 85 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DJ. They also have a concession at Dover Street Market.
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