I had heard The Shed in Forest Glen described as an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ and it took me a total of two seconds to wholeheartedly agree.
The moment you enter this treasure trove, you are drawn into a world of mystery. An eclectic array of old and new, vintage and modern, pretty and odd. Not to mention the cosy cafe just off to the side that dishes up local treats. Yum. One might be enticed to hang around for hours. And you might just need to.
Geoff and Dianna Ryan took over this den of wonder about six years ago and transformed it from an antiques and auction house into a space that is completely relevant in a contemporary design world.
“My parents owned this business for many years and we used to come in and sift through the antique goodies; collect things for our own home,” Dianna says. “It was always so interesting and we loved it.”
So, not long after Geoff retired, the couple decided to buy the business and put their own slant on it.
Geoff came from a background in real estate and property development, and Dianna from interior design, so for the Sunshine Coast couple it just felt right to take on this particular project and give The Shed new life.
“It made sense for us,” Dianna says. “Geoff has a keen interest in art, jewellery and antiques, and I’m excited by the decorator pieces and pretty stuff, so we each have our part to look after and grow.
“It has changed a lot too since we came on board. I suppose you could say things are geared towards the more modern home now, and antiques are the smaller part of our business,” Dianna says. “Even then, if it’s going to be an antique that we take on, it is going to be one of those quirky pieces that set off a modern interior.”
The day I came to chat to Dianna and Geoff, I spent just minutes wandering the halls before I realised you can find almost anything at The Shed. In just a moment you will spy unique ornaments, candles and skin care down one wall, deer antlers, glass wear and crystal on another, books, optical sets, art, jewellery. And I had barely scratched the surface.
“There is literally a bit of everything,” Dianna laughs.
“Probably because we have such a diverse clientele too. There are a lot of older customers, that is where a lot of stock comes from, but our demographic is anywhere from 25 to 70,” she says.
“And we also sell to a lot of international photographers who are seeking out props, interior designers, theatre groups, TV stations…”
Because of this eclectic group of repeat buyers, as well as the collectors, the couple rarely has to “sell” their items. Geoff says they sell themselves. “We actually struggle to get enough stock for all the buyers who know about us and the variety of what we sell,” he says. “We do specialise in watches and jewellery. It’s a passion of mine, and I think the longest amount of time a Rolex we’ve come across has been on the market is about four days, and the shortest time was three minutes,” he laughs. “I’d barely even got it on the shelf and it was snapped up.”
“It is the same with vintage and designer handbags – they often don’t even make the counter. They sell so quickly,” Geoff adds. “We have people on a list waiting for them.”
And when it comes to sourcing the unique mix that makes The Shed so special, well, it all comes to them too. “We don’t need to go looking for items,” Dianna says. “We have dozens of emails daily of people wanting to sell things, or people pull in with stuff in their boot and we go through it, so we rarely source things.
“We do have a very high standard though and we will only take on high-quality, upmarket pieces. Brand names and designer names. So, you will always find beautiful, immaculate things in our store.”
Immaculate and sustainable Dianna says. “We love the fact that our business is doing its bit for the environment by supplying our beautiful customers with stunning sustainable, quality chic items,” she adds.
“The items all have a story and it’s not just vintage either. People think vintage and assume old. We have a lot of new pieces too. Everything has to be a good name brand, very well made, or an unusual rustic, vintage piece,” Dianna says.
“Maybe this stems from my boredom at only being able to find things that are very cookie-cutter, and wanting more when it came to my career as an interior designer. People were missing that personality in their homes, the individual quirky pieces no one else has. So that’s what we look for.”
You’d expect with such a business that there would be the occasional odd item or two, perhaps something very rare, and you’d be right.
“Funnily, a lot of the more unusual things come from the States, or people that have migrated here and haven’t gone through all of their belongings,” Dianna says. “They show up with a boot full of interesting items and we look for gems. Australia is a melting pot and people come from all over the world, so we see things from all over the world.
“The weirdest and most awful item though was a whole jar of teeth, which obviously didn’t go on display,” she chuckles. “We’ve also had human ashes come in. At one stage we had someone bring in a whole heap of massive taxidermy pieces, but they were so well done we had them all on display around the store and they all sold.”
“We’ve had some fantastic things through too, like rare Modoc rubies which are too expensive for jewellers to even stock,” Geoff says. “We have an old antique poker machine, rare WWI bits and pieces. We have had a munitions carrier from the Light Horse – they often didn’t come back; they were ploughed into the ground during the War. But we got one. We’ve had museum pieces like an ancient Chinese tea-horse, a real Spanish Armada treasure chest from the 1640s. We currently have a First Fleet coin from the 1780s.
“I always wonder where people come across these items. I’d actually love to get a pad and pen, start at the entrance of the shop and list all the different places these items come from too. It’s just so fascinating what we have or what we have come across.”
No matter what comes through their door, for Dianna and Geoff, every delivery feels like Christmas.
“Opening boxes is always a thrill,” Dianna says. “I get to decorate all day, every day, and each day is different; it is never boring. This place really feeds our soul. The Shed is chic, different, quirky and it just works. We love it.”