Cult Shop: Is MMW the coolest store in Cornwall?
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“We bought this property about 20 years ago when it was a fresh fish shop with an attached chalet. A friend of ours had the idea of opening half of it as a retro surf shop, ”says Perry Walsh. With his wife Michelle, the ex-Mancunian financier founded MMW, an unusual general store tucked away on a narrow street between the beaches of Towan and Fistral in Newquay on the North Cornish coast. It is an area popular with surfers and which now attracts a crowd of increasingly demanding styles.
The boutique, with its original stripped walls and exposed brick combined with elegant cherry wood accessories, is connected to the family cottage by an adobe-style courtyard filled with cacti. Surfboards hang from the ceiling and an elongated sail serves as an awning when the patio hosts her sold-out MMW Kitchen summer pop-up dinners (run by Perry and the couple’s daughter Erins, and cooked by fellow chefs. including Max Rocha – from Cafe Cecilia in London – and local hero Tim spedding, formerly of The Ledbury and The Clove Club).
“We had friends who worked for Brinkworth retail designers and helped us make this amazing space,” says Perry. “They then designed all of the Supreme and Palace skate shops. They put so much love into our small space, and people really love this wonderful retro surf shop that they created for us in 2001.
At first the London-based couple gave the store to local skaters and surfers to run and used the adjacent little cottage as a holiday home, but in 2014 they decamped to Cornwall and Michelle took over the store: “I have always been enormously influenced by at Ralph Lauren RRL – I love his aesthetic and the depth of the lifestyle culture he has created. I also really like the eclectic editing in stores like General store in San Francisco and M Raven At New York.”
For MMW – her logo is a tipi – Michelle sourced brands such as Pendleton, whose design is inspired by Native American style, while former longboard champion Kassia Meador Kassia + Surf brand and Sea reflect his passion for the Californian way of life. In the store you can find anything starting at £ 9 – for a pack of Incausa‘s Wise Wild White – at £ 995 for a surfboard, and patrons range from surfers and fashionistas to foodies. Palace founder Lev Tanju and designer Ashley williams recently visited and went wild for the store’s cornucopia of delicacies.
Also included in Michelle’s montage Play Comme des Garçons striped t-shirts, sheepskin sandals by Brique and Birkenstock, everyday clothes and inventive homewear from young British designers Sideline, and Vinster’s Vmix of bohemian tops and unique pieces. There is also the Japanese camping brand Snow peak, whose chunky knits and camping gear – think the collapsible coffee dripper – are campervan set favorites, along with hand-embroidered cushions from Australian surf enthusiasts Aloha in Zen.
“I wanted to bring back to Cornwall the beautiful things I found in my travels around the world and create something funky but unlike anything I’ve ever seen here,” says Michelle. Lamps and stools alfa braided by Shake up the Kasbah offer stylish solutions for seaside homes.
She says her idea of having just one small project underestimated the emergence of the new Cornish scene. “Things have changed dramatically over the past few years,” she says. “I think we were just ahead of the curve, and now a lot of other great places are popping up around Newquay and Cornwall, be it food or fashion. Honestly, I thought I would do this for a summer and pack my bags.