Oxbow & Peach: fine vintage ware in Whittlesford
Childhood friends Lizzie Griggs and Georgie Mitchell set up Oxbow & Peach seven years ago. Initially plying their trade at charity and country home fairs, the duo now operate from their showroom in South Cambridge.
The former students at The Perse, who have known each other for 44 years, have turned their passion for seeking out unusual vintage pieces – from chandeliers to candlesticks, antique glass to mirrors and cushions to porcelain – into a thriving business.
They will be exhibiting at the inaugural Cambridge Home + Garden Show at the Guildhall on September 9, an event supported by the Cambridge Independent.
“We had our first sale at Georgie’s house in 2010 and it’s grown from there,” recalled Lizzie. “It started with a passion for going round auctions, antiques markets and just sourcing interesting vintage items to make a house more of a home.
“It was a little hobby that grew, and then we decided to see whether there was a market for it at all. We invited our friends along to our first sale and they absolutely loved it.”
The pair subsequently began setting up stalls at charity fairs and house fairs before moving into their own showroom, The Old School, in Whittlesford four years ago.
“I think our husbands got a bit fed up with all the stuff being in our houses,” laughed Lizzie. “Then we got the opportunity to acquire a showroom, which is an old-fashioned Victorian school room. It’s grown from there.”
Georgie, a professional chef for 34 years before she stopped to dedicate more time to Oxbow and Peach, said: “I’ve always loved old stuff – things with a story. Things with age quite often have such quality about them – a faded grandeur, almost.
“I think contemporary homes can look lovely, but if they’ve got a bit of depth added with something that’s unique or old, it can give a bland space a bit of class, a bit of personality.”
Asked to explain the origin of the Oxbow and Peach name, Lizzie said: “Well, Georgie’s maiden name was Oxley and mine was Petrie, so it’s a play on our names. Initially it was going to be Oxbow and Peachtree, but we thought that was a bit of a mouthful so Oxbow and Peach was the name we went with.”
What is popular at the moment in the world of vintage interiors?
Georgie replied: “Old wine and water glasses and mirrors are our biggest sellers. Most of our items are one-offs and people come in to buy wedding presents, or that one-off gift with that special someone in mind.
“That’s the thing with our shop: you never know what you’re going to find, so people do come back and visit us regularly. We try to keep our prices very reasonable so we can move things on and constantly have a flow of different stuff.”
Lizzie added: “We source new stock every week, so when people come in there’s always going to be something different – and we change it around as well to fit in with the changing seasons.”
The showroom is not open every day (check the website for details), though it is open this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (May 4-6) from 10am to 5pm. Lizzie and Georgie also open by appointment.
“Basically, in the run-up to Christmas, which is our busiest time, we’re open more,” said Georgie, described by her partner as “the arty, creative one”.
“It’s a hobby that we make a little bit of money from, but it has to fit in with our lives and we’ve both got quite a lot of other things going on.”
Lizzie, a qualified Cambridge tour guide, noted: “We spend a lot of time sourcing, which is very time-consuming in itself. We go on little road trips all over the place – it’s a bit of a consuming passion, really.”
Lizzie and Georgie travel a lot all over the UK and intend to hire a van to bring back stock from France. They also find that potential buyers and sellers contact them directly.
“We have to be quite discerning,” concluded Georgie. “We know what sells and we know what we can afford to pay. We don’t like people to think they can just turn up with cast-offs they would otherwise take to a charity shop – we’re fussy about what we take.”
Oxbow & Peach will be exhibiting at the inaugural Cambridge Home + Garden Show at the Guildhall on September 9, an event sponsored by the Cambridge Independent.