The BBC’s The Repair Shop is one of my favourite programmes, so it was a delight to visit a similar venture here in the Algarve.
Kit & Caboodle was founded five years ago when best friends Philippa Taylor and Sue Jenkins spotted a gap in the market. “We were amazed,” said Philippa, “by how much great quality furniture there is here that just needs a little TLC to make it as good as new or even better than new!”
The majority of the furniture they identified was fit for purpose. Typically, it was only being disposed of because the owners were relocating to another country or downsizing, so they no longer had room for all their possessions. On other occasions, the furniture was being inherited as a result of a purchase of a property here but was not to the new owners’ taste.
Located in Almancil, on the edge of the wealthy Golden Triangle, Philippa and Sue are well-placed to take advantage of a great supply of quality pre-owned furniture. Some of it is in excellent condition and sold ‘as is’ while other items require upcycling. “We are passionate about re-using existing furniture,” said Philippa, “and giving it a new lease of life.”
Philippa trained with Annie Sloan, the founder of Chalk Paint, and along with her team of woodworkers, artists and upholsterers, creates unique pieces that are then placed for sale in the Kit & Caboodle salesroom. Another helpful aspect of their work is that if you spot something you like but would prefer it in another colour, Philippa and her colleagues will repaint it for you, thereby creating a top-quality piece of furniture that’s unique to you.
The salesroom is run by Sue Jenkins as Operations Manager and Client Consultant Manager Julie Rushman. In reality, it’s far more than a salesroom. It is here where you can see Phillipa and her colleagues at work, thereby helping to give it that Repair Shop feel. There’s a really nice vibe to the place, too, helped by a welcoming mug of coffee for customers, new and old alike, and in the run-up to Christmas, a plentiful supply of mulled wine. Kids’ quizzes and hide-and-seek adventures help make it a welcoming environment.
Kit & Caboodle supports local businesses, good causes, and the local community. The salesroom includes a gift shop of locally produced items by small businesses. They sell books and certain other items to raise funds for Madrugada Portugal – which provides palliative care – and the Goldra Dog Sanctuary. Philippa and her colleagues are also happy to share their expertise. They run regular workshops throughout the year, helping others to upcycle their own furniture. There are two workshops in March, one focusing on ceramics (8th) and another on the Annie Sloan furniture painting techniques (30th). If you have an item that requires a little refresh or you want to learn new skills, why not pop along? More details are available on the Kit & Caboodle website.
It was a pleasure to meet Philippa and her team. In this age of sustainability and the pressing need to look after our precious resources, it’s fantastic to see a business giving new life to furniture, supporting their local community, and working in a way that helps others learn new skills.
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