An interview with owner Tracy McAllister
Standing outside BTS Concept Store, the sunlight on a bright July afternoon streams through the large window front. Pops of colour are highlighted amongst beautifully assorted neutral shades of; terracottas and soft yellows, amber jars on shelves, moss greens, gentle hues of blue and grey. Here and there, plants and dried flowers in clay pots and glass vessels adorn coffee tables and shelves.
This is what you can expect from BTS; graceful, subtle and yet impactful aesthetics. The store is laid out carefully and purposefully - almost as though you could imagine walking into a room in your own house and seeing an item such as the one you're looking at and styled just as so. This is all achieved by the careful eye and aesthetic skill of Owner and Founder Tracy McAllister.
“I don’t sing and I don’t draw, but I see this as an artistic flair - my talent - that I never realised I had before I started the store. I am so overwhelmed by how people love the store and what I do here”.
BTS Concept Store began in 2014 as a pop-up in Coleraine. Tracy wasn’t sure what to expect, how the public would take to a small store championing functional, minimalistic items and designs from local and European brands over cheaper, mass-produced designs and aesthetics that larger interiors and homeware stores generally offer.
The response was undeniably positive, and BTS Concept continues to be a much beloved spot in Coleraine for its curated homewares, jewellery, textiles, skincare and much more. Bespoke brands such as; HAY, Haekels, Lines & Current, Aimee Mary and Ferm Living are to name but a few of the proud staples within BTS, some of which have been on the journey with Tracy from the beginning.
‘By The Sea Concept Store’- to give BTS its full title and meaning, takes on a ‘by the sea’ aesthetic, but not in the traditional or touristy ‘sea-side’ kind of way that we are used to; driftwood ornaments, vintage buoys and decorative fishing nets draped over wooden crates. But rather, the store encapsulates the feeling and aesthetic our unique coastline boasts through it’s colours, textures, patterns and fabrics.
At the time of writing, the store’s collections, colour-scheme and layout were inspired by the colours of seaweed; natural earthy tones of this season that will take us into Winter. And for that Winter collection? Well, you’ll have to wait and see!
While the store changes with the seasons, the concept remains the same. True to a Danish approach to living that Tracy has bought into and applied, each piece belongs to a concept of durability, functionality and of being purposeful - pieces bought for a reason and purpose that they fulfill whilst also being aesthetically pleasing.
This approach appeals to many - the concept of a simple, yet purposeful way of life and living - perhaps even more important and poignant to us all now during these times is one that Tracy affirms a lot of people want to replicate in their own homes and spaces.
“With lockdown, there were and there continues to be a lot of people wanting to simplify and curate their home spaces. I know that I personally looked around my own house and saw a lot that I wanted to do. People want to fully enjoy their homes after lockdown and are clearing their spaces and want to introduce something new. Many people want to introduce, well, ‘this’”.
It’s no surprise as to why so many customers wish to bring the aesthetics of the store into their own homes. BTS is a serene retail experience, even in times such as these that we’ve been experiencing over the last several months. It’s a joyful and enriching way to shop that is a comfort to indulge in once again, safely.
Noteworthy about BTS is Tracy’s dedication to her brands, and her championing of them in store and on her social media platforms. Local, Irish brands are continually celebrated, and assistant Aimee’s handmade Irish linen clothing collection from her own brand ‘Aimee Mary’ will be making its way into the store for purchase. Currently, you will already find in store a selection of handmade and hand-dyed head-scarves and neckties from the same collection.
Tracy also uses her talents to consult. Her expertise in design and interiors has helped many to construct and style many different spaces; from homes to cafes, retail spaces and photoshoots. The aesthetic Tracy has curated within BTS is admired by many, but she does not simply replicate in other spaces. Rather, Tracy encourages those she works with to take inspiration and find their own style, and uses her expertise to guides clients to find that balance and concept for themselves.
You can visit BTS Concept Store on Queen Street, Coleraine and also browse collections online at btsconceptstore.com
Mary Reynolds is a Landscape Designer, Author and mum of two from Wexford. The youngest ever woman to win the gold medal at the Chelsea Flower show in 2002, we visit Mary to hear her story.