The Nancy Smillie Shop is well known to many West Enders and has been located on the corner of Cresswell Street and Lane since the early 90’s. Over time, the shop has grown to stock pottery, jewellery, art, furniture and home decorations, with a dedicated jewellery studio opening on Great Western Road in 2009.
Nancy Smillie herself is trained potter, and the shop was first opened as a place to display and sell her ceramics. Eventually, her growing customer base got so keen that she started stocking other artists’ creations to keep up with the demand. In those days, part of the shop was still a gallery, but over time, the basement shop has turned into an Aladdin’s cave of home interior.
Basia Palka, a long-time friend of Nancy’s, has worked in the shop for more than twenty years and is now the manager. She describes the shop’s range as eclectic, yet stylish, and anyone having a look around will quickly come to recognise the distinctive Nancy Smillie style. A core of loyal customers is complemented by temporary visitors that often take a particular liking to the Scottish designs. As we visited, they had recently sold their first tartan Christmas card to an international traveller who, unlike so many of us, is clearly planning ahead.
The Nancy Smillie Shop’s unique identity can be attributed to its close ties with artists and designers. Two of its staff, Genna Miller and Lindsay McDowall, are jewellery designers, with Genna basing herself in the studio shop on Great Western Road. Another employee, Kevin Hunter, moved on to focus on his art but still sells paintings in the shop. Nancy Smillie, of course, has never stopped working as a potter and her creations can still be bought in the shop.
The Nancy Smillie Shop is located on 53 Cresswell Street and is open seven days a week. The jewellery studio and shop can be visited on 425 Great Western Road.