News

‘The proudest day of my life’: Former Big Issue vendor opens new furniture shop with Jay Blades

BBC presenter Jay Blades and Big Issue vendor turned furniture restorer Steve Wyatt joined forces to open the first Jay & Co store in Poole.

Big Issue vendor Steve Wyatt and The Repair Shop presenter Jay Blades

ex-Big Issue vendor Steve Wyatt and TV presenter Jay Blades have an eight-year friendship fostered through a love of furniture restoration. Image: The Dolphin, Poole

Former Big Issue vendor Steve Wyatt said opening a new furniture store with Jay Blades was the “proudest day of his life”.

The Repair Shop star opened his first Jay & Co restored furniture store in Poole, Dorset, on Monday thanks to his eight-year partnership with Wyatt.

The ex-Big Issue seller turned to furniture restoration after beating addiction and homelessness and opened his own store Restored Retro in 2021.

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

When the shop next door became open, Wyatt leapt at the chance to collaborate with Blades and the pair held a grand opening on Monday to a crowd of more than 100 people.

“It was the proudest day of my life,” Wyatt told The Big Issue. “I just want to embrace it and move forward.

Jay Blades and Steve Wyatt store
The new store will feature furniture restored by Wyatt and Blades using sustainable materials. Image: The Dolphin, Poole

“It’s been a great journey with Jay watching each other progress and now this opportunity has come and I think it has come at the right time really.”

Wyatt, 45, used to sell The Big Issue at Pero’s Bridge in Bristol for three years as he battled addiction.

After leaving rehab for the last time a decade ago, he set up a social enterprise called Transfurniture to help people in recovery from drug addiction by allowing them to work on restoring furniture.

It was a passion that Wyatt’s addiction had prevented him from pursuing and he previously told The Big Issue: “Furniture, no doubt in my mind, has saved my life.”

His renewed passion led to him contacting Blades and the pair met for the first time at his Wolverhampton studio eight years ago.

Since then, Blades has been offering what he calls “low-level mentoring” to Wyatt and the two collaborated last year when Restored Retro became the first stockists of Jay & Co’s restored furniture.

Jay Blades and Steve Wyatt store
The new Jay & Co store is located next door to Wyatt’s own Restored Retro furniture shop. Image: The Dolphin, Poole

Now their partnership has moved a step further with the new shop which features a collection of exclusive furniture pieces crafted out of sustainable materials.

Blades and Wyatt also have new projects in the pipeline with their unlikely collaboration set to expand in the future.

Article continues below

Current vacancies...

Search jobs

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

“Restored Retro was our first stockist, we started selling our products through Steve’s shop nearly two years ago, and it has not only been fruitful for both parties, we have become good friends. Our business values are aligned and it is the right fit for us,” said Blades.

“What I admire about Steve is the eye because when you’re selling furniture you’re putting something into someone’s house which is very personal to them but the majority of the time you don’t know that person.

Restoring furniture has a restorative impact on both Blades and Wyatt too. Image: The Dolphin, Poole

“You’re putting your personality into the furniture and that’s what I admire about Steve in the sense that he’s done something that is really pure in putting his slant on it. That’s a really hard thing to do, a lot of people think it’s easy.  So what I admire is that Steve’s been able to do it from really, really humble beginnings.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Rewilding is bringing creatures great and small back to UK – but a lack of funds is holding it back
Rewilding

Rewilding is bringing creatures great and small back to UK – but a lack of funds is holding it back

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?
Work

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?

Almost no recorded cases of disability benefit fraud despite DWP crackdown: 'PIP fraud is a non-issue'
dwp pip/ disabled person
Disability benefits

Almost no recorded cases of disability benefit fraud despite DWP crackdown: 'PIP fraud is a non-issue'

Deaf man awarded £50,000 after 'oppressive' and 'discriminatory' treatment by DWP
dwp jobcentre
Department for Work and Pensions

Deaf man awarded £50,000 after 'oppressive' and 'discriminatory' treatment by DWP

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know