My Independent Marylebone: David Penton and Son

Q&A with Manish Vara, owner of David Penton and Son.

Tell us about your business?

David Pentons was established in 1841, making it the oldest store in Marylebone. Originally opened as a leather merchant and specialised in shoe repairs. Over the next 100 years it gradually turned into an ironmonger/general hardware store, not too dissimilar to what it is today. My brother and I bought the store 20 years ago with an aim of making it the best hardware store in London.

We started keeping higher quality products and utilised the precious space better, making Pentons the one stop shop it is now.

Our customers are now a mix of Trade, residents and local businesses with the odd celebrity coming in too. We also attract tourists who are drawn into the shop by its amazing window display. We often hear comments about Pentons being the best DIY store in London and so I suppose our mission has been accomplished! None of this would have been possible without our wonderful staff who saw the vision.

What makes your store special?

Hardware stores aren’t as common as they once were, mainly due to the internet and big DIY stores. However we’ve stuck to our guns and not compromised on two things that I believe makes us stand out and keeps customers returning; quality and service. For each product we sell, we aim to keep the best of what is available on the market, as well as a less expensive alternative. We’ve built up a reputation for selling things that will last, something that doesn’t always happen with internet purchases! All the staff here have been in the industry for a long time and know that one of the most important roles is to make customers feel comfortable and confident in the job they’re undertaking. Good advice or a simple tip is priceless.

What is your favourite item in your store?

It’s very satisfying to use a well made item for a mundane task. I believe it can turn a chore into a pleasure. Out of the many brushes we sell that have a specific function, I have 2 favourites. One is our “dustmans” broom for sweeping outside. It’s made in England and flicks leaves and rubbish so easily you’ll never want to use another type of broom again. We also have a soft indoor broom made by a 5th generation brush maker which is a joy to use on hard floors.

What do you love about Marylebone Village?

There is a real close community feel to it and the diversity of the people who live and work in the area make it very interesting. I love talking to customers about their projects and am always surprised at how much is going on in the area. Also the location is perfect. I often travel in by bus and love the journey, especially as I get closer to Marylebone.

What is your favourite memory in Marylebone Village?

I’ve had so many fun evenings and days out but one surreal moment that still makes me smile was when I was showing some Australian friends the area.
Walking along Marylebone Lane on a beautiful spring day, we could hear haunting opera singing coming from the music studios. Our friends had just seen Noel Gallagher walk out of Pentons carrying a watering can, when to top the moment off, David Beckham steps out of a nearby car and casually stepped into a nearby shop! I think it was the highlight of my friends trip.

Where is your favourite place to eat?

There are so many places I could list both on the high street and on the side streets. But my go to place has to be Paul Rothe and Son on Marylebone Lane for lunch. Still family run, it’s fresh sandwiches and soups constantly change and are made with lots of love. I normally let them choose what I’m having and it's always spot on.