Fittingly located within an art deco building in the heart of Manly, a new retail resident has settled in. The shop may be new, but its wares are far from it.
Unique and Unusual is an antique shop owned and run by Uuli, an energetic and charming Manly local, originally from Estonia.
As I enter through the shop’s vibrant blue door and step back in time, I am greeted with a welcoming smile and a glass of sparkling water served in an exquisitely weighty antique goblet.
Sitting at a table lovingly restored by Uuli with her own hands, I immediately spot a porcelain figure behind her from my childhood. Uuli reveals to me that this is part of the magic of antiques and vintage that people don’t often realise- they can spark a personal and unexpected memory or joy that you didn’t anticipate just from walking into a shop.
Clearly with an eye for sourcing pieces that people love, Uuli tells me her first sale came before the doors were officially even open- a mid century Italian coffee set, spotted by a lady that declared ‘I absolutely love it!’ and purchased it immediately.
“That’s what I want, to bring this excitement and joy to people. They come in and look at something and think ‘that’s just amazing’ or ‘that is my kind of thing!’”
Moving to Australia four years ago, Uuli wanted to embrace and immerse herself into the Aussie way of life. So if her name sounds familiar to you, it may be because she also owns ‘Uuliverse Coffee’, the locally loved coffee van in North Manly that offers free coffee for emergency service workers, and free cookie Friday!
“I was thinking what is the best way to get into the Australian life…so I got myself a coffee van!”
“I also love to connect with people and bring them joy. So, like with the coffee van, I want the shop to feel like an integrated part of the community.”
“I would like people to get to know me, and if someone is looking for a present for a friend, they think maybe Uuli can recommend something.”
The shop houses antiques and vintage wares ranging from furniture, pottery, and mirrors, to jewellery, clothes and books.
“I think people are looking for something unique and different, with some character.”
“I’ve always had an eye for picking things that people love, and I love different looks and colours. People seem to already love it. I love it!”
Uuli says her principle is ‘if it lasted 100 years, it will probably last another 100 years’, and encourages people to consider not everything needs to be purchased new, or mass produced.
“I like the idea of recycling old things, not going and buying that new shiny thing. So that’s my kind of giving back to the environment.”
“I try to encourage people to buy used rather than new. I like that things go from generation to generation.”
Collecting pieces on her travels from places like antique fairs, she has a love of antique mirrors, vintage jewellery, the simplicity of mid-century Danish style, unique handmade pottery, plus a little bit of a fondness for all things kitsch.
“You can look at something and see that somebody has really worked hard making this; it hasn’t been made by a machine. That’s what my pieces represent.”
“Pottery, for example, is somebody’s work made by their own hands, and people don’t realise how much effort goes into it. That is what I find, that it’s great to give people the opportunity to see the beauty of somebody’s work.”
Uulis Unique & Unusual is open every day, 9am-5pm, but these hours may extend as we get closer to Christmas. They are located at 4/3 Whistler St, Manly, next to Desire Books.
The Uuliverse coffee van can be found at the corner of Kentwell and Pittwater Rd, North Manly.