Nestled below Brighton train station, at the top of Trafalgar Street, inside number 42, is a very special place; an independent “mystical emporium for all your Wizarding needs”. Oliver’s Brighton’ is the brain child of Oliver Thomas Dall a sparkling young gentleman clothed in a beautiful threepiece velvet amethyst suit that would make Willy Wonka swoon with jealousy. His shop, a veritable Mecca for the fans of all things Harry Potter.
Stepping inside is like stepping back in time with its raw floorboards and open brickwork. Suspended from the ceiling are 60 round bulbs emitting a comforting amber glow that harks back to a bygone era. Within the many cabinets are artefacts from the books and films; including watches, charm bracelets, prints, boardgames, jewellery, and a huge selection of wands. “I’m a magpie” says the patron of the shop offering “beautiful and affordable” gifts in an environment that is as close to a magical experience as anything in the North Laine.
Asked what drew him to the world of Harry Potter, Oliver enthusiastically responds “it’s the creativity and imagination. It’s that moment when you’re a child of say 8-12 – they have this believability that this is real, Hogwarts is a real place this is actually possible and I remember feeling that feeling and that’s just beautiful I think”. What has surprised him the most on the opening day in November is “the amount of people, its crazy… Before I opened the door for the first time one of my assistants said you need to look, there’s a queue. I was thinking 5-10 people, but when I looked out there was at least 100 it was so exciting. I went out and treated them all to some Bertie Botts everyflavour Beans. Some people had come all the way from London, Manchester and even Belgium”.
The interior of the shop feels authentic, the antique furniture include pieces that held science apparatus and lab coats. A wand holder in the centre of the shop that once housed zips was made by a company marvellously called ‘Lightning’. It is in these details, that Oliver’s emporium flourishes. Whilst not affiliated with the Harry Potter franchise, J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros, the independent shop has the pizzazz of a true fan.
When asked what character from the JK Rowling universe Oliver would be, he is quick to respond; “Luna Lovegood. The world is very vivid to her she can see the adventure the energy, nothing fazes her she can do anything she wants. She’s truly unique.” After discussing his Patronus being matched on Pottermore to an Oryx (but opting for a Rabbit that appears on the shop crest), the inevitable question arises of what is his favourite flavour of Bertie Botts every flavour bean? “Toasted marshmallow, and my favourite worst flavour is the grass one it actually tastes immensely like grass its very Heston Blumenthal” It is very clear that although Oliver was not born and raised here in Brighton it’s definitely the place for him; “I have been living here for eight years now and Brighton for me is the most positive, energetic and creative place it’s just unreal. That’s why I named my shop ‘Oliver’s Brighton’, It’s my little segment of Brighton where I can put back into Brighton what Brighton has given to me”.
With each Oliver’s Brighton Product purchased £1 will go to support Brighton’s Homeless any tips will also be donated. In the lead up to Christmas Oliver will be hosting his own alternative non-profit Santa’s grotto, see Oliver’s Brighton website for details – www.oliversbrighton.co.uk
The Oliver’s Brighton magical emporium is at 42 Trafalgar Street, Brighton
Review By Grace Wainwright Davis