As that self-confessed ex-punk, “with spiky hair, listening to angry music”, Cooper easily stood out from the other fruity old-style dealers. “I was looked down on,” he says. “The others wore tweed – very Acorn Antiques – or they were old hippies.” The stark contrast worked in his favour, as coverage in a trade newspaper quickly led to that high-profile interview with TVAM.
Meeting today for coffee at his East Preston home, there’s no trace of the earring, but that independent punk spirit pokes through like a spring in an antique chaise. Unlike many of his competitors, Cooper insists he doesn’t “jump on bandwagons” and hasn’t been tempted to embrace the big “industrial” trend of restoring large-scale salvage yard finds with a team of assistants (such as those working with Drew Pritchard, star of TV’s Salvage Hunters). That’s not to say Pritchard’s approach is wrong, but it’s not for everyone.
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