Walking through our first Oxford Street, Soho shop, we almost blushed at the rows and rows of safe-looking plastic flatware: the wine glasses, the iced mint tea cups, the big plates with the cats leaping out of the sides, the tins of tomato sauce.
The quality of all the things on display was top notch and the way the shelves shifted with the clatter of busy shoppers was almost like being in a cocktail bar. Only here, the bartenders served stuff we’d seen in alcopops adverts, not boozy punch.
That’s in part because today’s street businesses are largely 3D printed. Amazon has started dropping its own 3D printers in boutiques. “For the last couple of years, they’ve been in a tiny, tiny retail space in Covent Garden,” explains Taylor O’Sullivan from Pound of Thieves – a street-level business that sells everything from 70s Coca-Cola cans to facial creams. “And you’ll also see them in Camden and east London, they’ve opened a huge warehouse in Kent, because the use of 3D printers is so high there.”
Signs of this growth are everywhere. Even word-of-mouth recommendations have been modernised, with services such as the London Soaproom, where you can use your phone to check the status of your hero’s loved ones before they’re killed in the fire brigade.