Caution, this post contains beard oil, anyone of a sensitive disposition should look away now. This week I’m writing about a gent’s lifestyle store which has opened on Hoe Street. Yes, the shop sells beard oil, and no, I don’t think its arrival signifies the downfall of Walthamstow as we know it. The shop in question is called Cove17, it describes its self on twitter as a Men’s lifestyle store in Walthamstow – Designed and delivered by gentlemen from E17. I realise that its mere presence is going to get some people’s backs up, but you know, different strokes for different folks. Beards need love just as much as any other fury creatures do, and this little shop provides that love in bucket loads.
Despite the fact that someone once described my writing style as that of an old woman looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses, I am in fact, a forty-year old man. Unfortunately, I am probably the least qualified man to write about a men’s lifestyle store that I can think of. My idea of grooming is digging the clippers out of the bathroom cabinet and shearing off what little hair I have left, and then hacking at my beard until I look less like I’ve spent three years living in the wild. It’s not that I don’t take pride in my appearance, I mean, sometimes I iron stuff, and I’ve occasionally been known to clean my shoes. Going bald at twenty means I realised early on that appearance really doesn’t matter that much, unless you are at a job interview, getting married or getting buried that is. I may not be their target customer, but I went in any way to see what the shop was all about.
Arriving at the shop, I realised that I had failed spectacularly when I got dressed that morning. Formal black shoes, tan trousers, and a padded builders shirt. I looked like the love child of Tommy Walsh and Len Goodman. They’ll be kicking me out the back door, I thought to my self as we walked in to the shop. Much to my surprise, I was not arrested for crimes against fashion, I was greeted with a cheery ‘Alright mate’. I started to browses the shelves, I tried to look confident, determined not to reveal my complete lack of understanding of most of the things I could see. The man behind the counter asked if I needed a hand, luckily I resisted the urge to ask if the purpose of beard oil was to make beards feel a little less like pubic hair. I simply, nervously replied, nah mate, I’m good thanks, and continued to edge further in to the unknown land of male grooming.
The back half of the shop is taken up by an impressive looking barbers chair. Customers can sit in said chair and have a Clark Kent or a Jim Stark (both hair cuts). Alternatively, you could treat your beard to a Carlito’s Way or a Don the Jeweller, which by the way is a moustache tidy and wax. Cuts and shaves range from six quid for the Jeweller, up to twenty-five quid for what they call the Keyser Soze (the full works). As far as I know, non of the treatments result in customers being turned in to mince meat and served as burritos in the shop next door.
Other goods on offer in the shop include the infamous beard oil, scarves, clothes, really nice socks, and cold brew coffee (I don’t know what that’s used for either). The demon barber of Hoe Street, and his magical oils and potions, are wrapped in a shop that is satisfyingly dark. It feels like a gents club in Soho, at least that’s how imagine a gents club would be as I’ve never been in one. It’s the kind of shop that a large green Chesterfield sofa would feel right at home in. I imagine if I smoked a pipe, and it was legal to do so, I would feel right at home smoking my pipe here. Actually, I’m not sure that description does it justice. I think of gents clubs of being old-fashioned and full of boring old farts, Cove17 is anything but that. It’s bang up to date and friendly.
Although I may not be the most qualified man on the planet to write about this kind of shop, from what I could see, it does what it does very well. As I said at the beginning of this post, I know this shop will annoy some people. But if it wasn’t there, that unit might be yet another betting shop or a pound shop. Simple truth is, men need haircuts, beards need oil (apparently), and blokes need grooming. If this shop wasn’t here, people would just go somewhere else and spend their money outside of Walthamstow. Cove17 adds yet more flavour and choice to the ever-expanding choice on Hoe street. If you have a beard, or you know someone who does. If you are a boy, or you have boy, or you simply just know a boy, go and support Cove17, our very own Men’s emporium located at number 60 Hoe Street.