About Us

Why are we here?

I think I am meant to write something about 'the journey' of Utility, explain our 'business model' and incorporate 'persuasive content'.....

It's simple, really - lots of us are looking for the same thing: Plain, mid-priced, indispensable household things. And we really, really enjoy finding them for you.

Here at Utility, we were chatting about that thing when you wonder what a radio presenter looks like after hearing them read the news for so many years.  So here follows the inevitable disappointment that is seeing what the person you spoke to on the phone about your online order looks like (look away now if you’re happy as you are): 

Gallery of geniuses that make up Utility

Left to right, top to bottom:
  • Jonathan Le Roy - Top banana: Retail genius, does the VAT stuff.  Should be a ‘Dragon’ on Dragon’s Den. Runs rings round 'em. No Jonathan? No Utility.
  • Adam Le Roy - Second banana: Makes the only decent cuppa you'll get (maybe Laurie's teas are a close second, but anyone else, forget it). Favourite film? Frozen. Favourite colour? Blue. Favourite animal? Unicorn.  Hobbies: being married to Martha.
  • Martha Tiffin (Le Roy) - Third banana: Finds some of the least suitable stock for Utility. Hobbies: cleaning the loo and bullying Jonathan.

And now the people that really do the do -

Left to right, top to bottom:


    • Sally D'Abreo-Black (Mondays, Fridays and every other Saturday) - Heavenly postal Angel. Unnecessarily modest about her multiple talents: Textile wizard, knitwear designer, yoga-meister and good egg. Has an excellent giggle.
    • Peter Gosbee (Tuesdays) - Has a mind like a steel trap: ask him pretty much anything, especially about Georgian silver, which horse to put your money on, where the best charity shops are, anything about cheese and any question on University Challenge (probably). Like everyone here, totally delightful.
    • Jane Frances Deans (Wednesdays) - Artist, maker and North Laine regular. Can be found at the excellent Blackout.  DO NOT approach if you are not in a buying mood. When Jane's not here, she'll either be painting, goose-throwing (do ask) or waiting for Richard Dreyfuss (also ask). Favourite colour: Red AND blue, preferably together. 
    • Laurie Hyde-Smith (Thursdays and wherever he needs to be) - Charm personified, historian, massive film buff and Wrangler expert. Steely Dan fan amongst other things. Utility also borrows Laurie from Jump the Gun where he has racked up 11 years of service.
    • David Rose (weekends) swapped at birth with one of Britain's greatest painters as you can see. Looks immaculate at all times, dusts a bit, listens to music and tries to sneak in a bit of jazz when Martha's not looking/listening.  You'll also know him from Jump the Gun in Gardner Street.
    • Eddie ApIvor (Saturdays) - The shortest member of staff, measuring a mere 7'5" - not bad considering he's only 14 and a half. Has 15 other jobs including: Freelance podcast producer, manager of a radio station and chimney sweep (insert into fireplace and get him to stand up). Extraordinary knack for appearing just when you are gasping for a brew.

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We had an excellent gent in this morning who very kindly said "This is a great shop, the music's great and you're all loonies".

That's worth getting up in the morning for.

The Golden Toothbrush

Our brass spark plug brush was described by a little girl as a 'golden toothbrush' the other day... don't try that at home kids...

Big night?

Ice packs are back in.... TGFT.


I am waiting to hear back from my reply to this 'excellent' review from Dan offering him a replacement step stool. Enjoy:

I am 14-stone man and this stool collapsed under me while standing on it. My wife says it serves me right for being a “Two Ton Tess. I am going to repair the stool and go on a diet. Maybe the combination of the two will avoid having to throw it away.

It goes without saying that 14 stone is nowhere near heavy. Our step stools could probably take twice that weight. Must have been a duff one.

We've since had a lovely reply from Dan after our offer of a replacement. He's repaired the stool and is happy as he is. So we sent him a voucher.