The Start Up Files is a series that aims to find out where good ideas come from and how they happen. Each fortnight we chronicle the journey of someone who brought their idea to life through the Renew Adelaide program. In this article, we chat to Bruce Thomson aka Bluey Boronia about Perch, a mindful gift store.
“Is it personal for you?” Bruce Thomson asks as he helps a customer select a greeting card.
For Bruce, it’s important for things to have meaning.
“I think the opposite of a disposable lifestyle is when you buy things because it expresses a personal kind of thing about you.”
9 years ago Bruce lived in Melbourne, working in retail operations in museums and art galleries. Bruce found himself drawn to these places because he loved being surrounded by objects that had stories.
When he moved to Adelaide he decided to challenge himself by doing something completely different. He landed a job as a theatre orderly, transporting people to and from their operations and maintaining hospital supplies. While it was an interesting experience, he soon realised he missed working with people who were conscious.
“I just wanted to be able to do something and interact with the public. To me it’s the ultimate in user generated content in that I actually get to speak to people and find out what they want because that is what’s missing.”
Upon searching for his next adventure, Bruce discovered the Renew Adelaide program which offers rent-free spaces to new business ventures. He decided he wanted to open a space that didn’t exist in Adelaide. A place that would be a reflection of who he was but also somewhere where people could find things that were a reflection of who they were. After landing a retail space in Topham Mall, Bruce opened Perch under his creative persona Bluey Boronia.
“It was an interesting time to open because it was during the marriage equality vote. So, for me, it was a good reflection of me to have an element of visibility in the shop with the rainbow flag. While it’s not a huge part, I think it fits in with the wellness thing. You’ve got to be you, if you’re not being you then people can see that.”
The concept of Perch is about setting yourself free, signified by the image of an open bird cage that covers the entrance. Inside, you can find an assortment of unique items ranging from honest greeting cards, games that spark conversations and a range of small trinkets for self-expression.
Everything in Perch is curated by Bruce, he carefully considers every item to ensure it has a reason for being there. Every item has a purpose, from enamel pins that allow corporate workers to subtly express themselves to greeting cards that express what you really want to say.
While Perch has been applauded for being ‘provocative’ and ‘disrupting retail’, that was never Bruce’s intention.
“Everything is well curated because it’s a reflection of me. It wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want it to be here.”
Today, Perch can be found in its original home at Shop 11 in Topham Mall, currently Bruce is developing a Bluey Boronia online store which he plans to launch later this year.
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Wise words from @emilymcdowell_ Why is it that when you’re sick with a life-threatening disease, so many people feel the need to tell you about someone they know who DIED OF THE THING YOU HAVE? It’s crazy how often this happens. Not only is it unhelpful, it’s actually quite terrifying. Please, everyone, stop doing this. If you buy a sick person this card, we/I promise they will a) laugh, and b) feel relieved that you understand.