Kate Rosie

By Kathryn Sutter 

This week we spoke to Kate Rosie, owner of Teddy Tinker’s: an antique, collectables, vintage and fancy dress shop on London Road in St Leonards.

I originally grew up in Bexhill and returned there in my twenties after a motorbike accident. I then moved to Hastings and thought I would stay for a year: thirty-four years on I am still here! I opened my wonderful shop almost nine years ago and love our town.

I worked in the Civil Service for 21 years as a Debt Manager. However, I didn’t really enjoy my job and I had always been interested in the second-hand and vintage world. My first job was in a vintage shop in Bexhill and my dad had a vintage shop in Lewes, The Box Room, which had customers from all over the world. I worked there every Sunday for 16 years. When my civil service job got too much, I realised that the second-hand world was the only other world I knew. Luckily my dad had retired and had some left-over stock in his garage – ready for my first shop!

Teddy Tinker’s is named after my teddy bear who has been my lifetime companion. We sell a multitude of things from old bears to vintage fashion, costume jewellery, old photographs, fancy dress and sheet music. Some of this music is very rare and is sourced from America. We are unique in that everything in the shop can be either bought or hired – very useful if you need something for a one-off event – and we keep our prices low. I have never advertised that I buy stock but stock seems to come to me. One time a man came in with five generations of items he had inherited, from Edwardian clothes to military items – that was pretty spectacular. I love the history of all the items in my shop. In the last five years we have bought over 1,000 vintage costumes which have been used at Glyndebourne and are fantastic. Alongside these dramatic pieces are small treasures such as a tin from the 1920s with a woman’s wedding memorabilia inside. 

The shop is very much rooted in the community and I like to support my customers. A man with Alzheimer’s used to visit us every day and I made sure he was safe and gave him lunch. We are well connected to the local businesses in the area and have been working on a campaign called #newbohemia. This will include things such as special promotions on Sundays to bring people to this part of St Leonards. The area is buzzing with new ideas and positivity and it is great to be part of that. 

Find Kate at Teddy Tinker’s, 134 London Road, St Leonards. The shop is open from Wednesday to Sunday and by appointment on Tuesdays. The shop also has a thriving Facebook group.

Read our other residents celebrated in the series here

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