Chief Trading Post – the Salvador Dali of Garden Centres


Continuing our occasional series on shops and shopping, Brit takes us to a rather unusual ‘garden centre’…

The best shop in the Bristol area, and by extension the world, is Chief Trading Post, in Oldland Common. It is, I suppose, a Garden Centre; but Chief Trading Post is a ‘Garden Centre’ in the sense that Salvador Dali is a ‘landscape painter’.

It consists of a series of vast greenhouses, some of which contain heaped junk, rejects and broken things; and some of which (and the boundaries are fuzzy) contain many hundreds of items for sale, grouped into categories all of which seem to be ‘Misc’.

There is also a very good café. The food and drink is relatively normal but the seating is not. For example, inside the main building we have The Satanic Table:


And then just outside in the greenhouse is a bewildering range of themed seating, such as the giant clay pot containing circular benches and a table, and guarded by this sort of African warrior…


…or this one, below, which we call the ‘Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Table’, for the very good reason that next to it is a model of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a big wobbly head. Above the table is a big blue glass ball, a birdy thing and a heater with the sign: “Touch Button Every Twenty Minutes For Continuous Heat.”


You can buy many things at Chief Trading Post. Here are a just a few:


A cabinet, some dusty glass bottles and bowls, cartwheels, a large Hindu frieze, some windchimes.


A variety of rocking horses.


A full-size tart in bronze, reclining (price £12,312.86 exactly).


A frightening statue.

You can see many more items for sale at Chief Trading Post – including a 5-foot winking Jeff Koons-style Manga boy, an obscene CD rack and a handful of dust and pebbles – on my old Think of England blog.

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8 thoughts on “Chief Trading Post – the Salvador Dali of Garden Centres

    June 5, 2013 at 09:52

    Since reading about this on the original think of england blog I have been saving up and am only a few hundred pounds short of finally claiming the full size tart in bronze

      June 5, 2013 at 11:09

      What calculations, factors, taxes, etc., get you to a price tag of £12,312.86? Or does he(?) just ‘feel’ for the right figure?

        June 5, 2013 at 11:26

        I think mild insanity helps to conjour up such a ridiculous figure out of thin air

        normally you see strange prices like that occur when the company uses a fixed % mark up added to each item’s price in the store. In this case somewhere around 1000%

        • Brit
          June 5, 2013 at 21:30

          Yes I think mild insanity is the one.

    • Brit
      June 5, 2013 at 21:32

      I believe it’s still available. Obviously quite a slow market for bronze tarts costing in excess of twelve grand.

    June 5, 2013 at 16:10

    I knew a sculptor once who calculated his fees according to the following formula:

    Calculate materials and time, multiply by 2 or 3 and then add a few zeroes.

    Joey Joe Joe Jr.
    June 5, 2013 at 21:53

    Brilliant! Can you make Things You Can Buy At The Chief Trading Post a regular Dabbler feature?

    • Worm
      June 6, 2013 at 09:14

      ha! not such a bad idea

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