Send photos, video and news by texting GUARDIAN SERIES to 80360 (cost 10p), or email us
A bleeding head on a stick anyone?
A bleeding replica head on a stick, suits of armour and medieval tiaras are just some of the weird and wonderful products supplied by a very unusual shop.
The Viking Store in Wood Street, Walthamstow, opened in February and is believed to be the largest of its kind in the country.
Owned by Max Bracey, 27, of Sunnydene Avenue in Highams Park, the business was started in 2010 as an online concern, with customers in countries such as China, America and India.
It supplies a range of niche products including replica memorablia, materials for action role play and battle re-inactment, and pagan giftware from the medieval, Viking, Celtic and Saxon eras.
When Mr Bracey decided he wanted to provide an actual shop, as well as a virtual one, he took advantage of cheap rates in Wood Street.
He took over a former chemist in the summer last year and soon realised a challenge lay ahead.
He said: “The shop was really dilapidated; it was run-down, mould everywhere and falling apart. I literally walked in there and thought, oh, this was a bad idea.”
“It worked logistically and location wise. We were thinking about opening a store in central London but the rent is too expensive and no-one jumps on the tube to go and buy a suit of armour.”
"We wanted somewhere where people could walk in and buy rather than shopping online, the rates are good around here, and my family own the company Electrosigns in Wood Street."
Mr Bracey said at Halloween blood capsules and horror masks sell well, but his most popular product is a Viking drinking horn made from cow horns.
The store regularly supplies TV channels, including ITV and the BBC, with costumes and props for dramas and documentaries.
Mr Bracey also travels the world to take part in tournaments and battles with the group and has acted-out scenes for the History Channel and National Geographic.
Due to the nature of the business, the shop has had some unusual requests.
Mr Bracey said: “We had a gentleman that came in asked for a bleeding head on a stick – that squirted blood out. It was for him to take to a Shia festival in Iraq where they flagellate themselves.
“Because it was custom made, it was expensive and he was willing to pay us £500 for it.”
“We get asked to do a lot of weddings, so we provide medieval tiaras, costumes and themed props for ceremonies based on Lord of the Rings.
“We have a lot of requests from people that would like a suit of armour in their house or people that watch Game of Thrones and want to re-enact the setting.
“It also tends to be a busy period for us leading up to comic conventions as we design costumes and replica outfits for people dressed up as film characters and superheroes, villains.”
The Viking Store has become so well known that it attracts tourists from around the world to the area.
“It’s actually pulling in a lot of international custom, more than it is local custom but other businesses are benefiting from the trade," Mr Bracey said.
“We have had people from Russia who have come to the UK on holiday, jump in a cab from Trafalgar Sqaure, visit the store, spend a fortune, have lunch locally then jump back into the cab to Trafalgar Square."
Mr Bracey is the leader of the UK chapter of an organisation known as JomsViking, a reconstruction of a legendary group of Viking mercenaries.
Members participate in sword fighting and live action role play.
Comments are closed on this article.