Family Store
What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story? is a monthly series in which we find and talk to interesting people in our local community, whether they run a business, have an interesting job or do something else that we think is worthy of wider attention.

Family Store is an independent shop located in Brighton’s Kensington Gardens selling clothing, pins, patches, records, small press and other illustrated goods. We spoke to Andrew Garnett, Family Store’s founder and owner, to find out more about him and the business.

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How was Family Store started?

Welllll.

It was a natural progression of sorts. I’ve had a tee brand (The Illustrated Mind) for five or six years now where I commission illustrators to design tees. Then in the past couple of years I started running the Brighton Illustration Fair (BIF); we’re planning to announce the dates for this year’s very soon [UPDATE: This year’s BIF will take place on 21st and 22nd October – see Facebook for more details].

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With the BIF and others I’d attended like Safari Festival and ELCAF there’s all this great stuff that you can only pick up if you go to the events. That paired with the tee brand and noticing the growth of the pin and patch scene over the past few years sowed the seed for Family Store.

I also knew that the emergence of concept stores throughout the country was an important thing to form into the model. Independent shops with a real individual personality and spirit, I think, are the funnest places to visit if you have money to burn. I wanted all of that to be reflected in the shop.

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I started off testing some of the products at a small stall I ran for three or four months; the location was bullshit but stuff was selling so I just bit the bullet and opened up the shop in Kensington Gardens. Family Store was born.

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What did you set out to do when putting the shop together?

  • It had to have things people wanted to buy.
  • It had to have things I wanted to buy.
  • It had to have a representation of product that broadly went under the umbrella of ‘illustration’.
  • It had to have a reasonably constant presence of products that people had never seen before.

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I’ve got an incredibly short attention span and I like to move from one project to the other. That sense of constant evolution is super-important to the on-going success of the business. Keep moving, like a fucking shark. It keeps it interesting for people coming through the doors.

It was also incredibly important to try to build up the idea of Family Store having a sense of community, so I try to work with local illustrators and creatives as much as I can. An example of that recently being the opening of Family Gallery upstairs; we have plans for that bad-boy.
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How do you select what you stock in store?

My gut.

I’ve been in retail forever and it’s a giant cliché but it totally fucking works.

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You have just celebrated your first birthday, what have been some of the highlights from the first year of the shop?

Here’s a few:

  • Working with the lovely man that is David Shrigley.
  • Becoming a bookseller.
  • Selling records (my first job in Brighton was in a record shop, years ago). It’s very, very difficult being so near to Resident but it’s a key ingredient to the feel of the shop.
  • Customers saying nice things – that’s honestly the best bit. If nothing else it tells you you’re doing something right, especially when they compare it to other shops around the world that you really respect.
  • Surviving a year of trade with money in the bank.

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Who looks after your branding and signage?

We try to do all of this in-house. Keep it in the family and all that. Everyone who works here has some creative bone in their body somewhere. I mostly draw a shitty picture and say ‘I want it like that’ and we go from there. I like to think if nothing else I ‘have an eye’

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Why Brighton?

Moved here. Also, I think it’s an ideal place to put a business such as Family Store.

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What’s your favourite music to listen to in the shop?

Jeez. Like the product I endeavour to keep it fairly varied but from memory I can guess a list of the staff’s recent favourites and mine:

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What are your future plans for Family Store?

Short-term: Do more with Family Gallery and put on more events. Make more of our own products. Work with more people we want to work with.

Long-term: Maybe another shop somewhere. If that’s realistic.

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