“There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments […], windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels’ eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon…”
If this description of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone makes you wish you could buy a wand, don your cloak of invisibility and leave this muggle world on a red steam train then look no further as Oliver’s Wizarding shop in Brighton claims to be the closest thing to the wizarding world this side of The Leaky Cauldron. Oliver’s Brighton–on Trafalgar Street – was set up in November 2017 by Harry Potter superfan, Oliver Dall who got the idea two years ago he was travelling in Asia, searching for an idea for a new business or product.
Oliver had toyed with the idea of creating a virtual reality experience based in Brighton,inspired by a similar idea he experienced in China at a virtual reality exhibition.
However, after discovering how impractical this would be to set up with no prior infrastructure, Oliver abandoned the idea and returned to the drawing board – but it wasn’t long before he had his next big idea. Whilst travelling on a train, Oliver was re-reading the Harry Potter series when he had an “epiphany” of opening a wizard shop; realising the potential of the wizarding genre due to Harry Potter having “the largest following in the world”, as well as Oliver’s own personal love for the “escapism of the world that JK [has] created”.
Now, two years on “the shop has grown [from] strength to strength” and continues to draw potter heads from all across the globe, as well as those who are less magically inclined but who are still inextricably drawn in by the promise of adventure and mystery which floods from the shop windows, with one customer saying that “Oliver’s is completely wonderful from the moment you step inside”. The
shop itself, with its pane glass windows, open filament bulbs and dark uneven wooden floors is based on the appearance Victorian shop and has a layout designed to make the relatively small shop feel much larger. Oliver’s sells everything from glass bottles of fictional refreshment “Butter Beer” to a life-size replica of the Sword of Gryffindor, as well as over 500 official items of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Merchandise. After two years of refining the in-shop experience, Oliver and the other staff who work at
the store continue to strive to make Oliver’s less like walking into a wizarding shop and more like walking into a wizarding world, with every aspect of the experience designed to make you feel like you might just be in Diagon Alley preparing for a new term at your chosen wizarding school and it shows no signs of slowing down. Oliver told the Badger how he is “constantly trying” to bring things into the shop that make people think “I’ve not seen that before”; selling quality and affordable items for collectors and “children with pocket-money” alike.
Recently Oliver’s have launched a rewards card scheme, which for a £10 yearly subscription, members receive 10% back on all purchases as well as credit for future visits, plus other benefits “to say ‘thank you’ to loyal customers” and to create a solid base of regulars.
Since 2018 Oliver’s has been awarded several awards, becoming winners of the 2018 Brighton and Hove Business Awards – “Start Up of The Year”. As well as the 2019 Brighton and Hove Award for Best i ndependent Retailer – “One To Watch” and the 2019 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. Oliver who is a Slytherin – empathising with their “ambition and cunning” explained how he is focusing now on getting new stock, new customers and described how excited he was for the future of the shop.
Back in 2018, Oliver participated in a charity skydive in support of Brighton’s homeless– he spoke to The Badger about how in an upcoming charity event they will be auctioning a replica Harry Potter Chess set in which 100% of the proceedings will go to charity and as well as this Oliver’s continues to work with Sussex Homeless Support to help the local community – the raffle is to celebrate the recent announcement that Oliver’s have been shortlisted as one of the 25 Best Small Shops by Indie Retail. The raffle closes at 5pm on October 31. Mr Dall said: “Whether we win or lose, the fact that we’ve been chosen to be shortlisted is a great feeling of acknowledgment, it shows that we’re going above and beyond.” He went on to say “the fact that we won the public vote within four days is amazing!”
The winner of the Indie Retail award will be announced on November 5 at the House of Commons.