Co-founder of Snoopers Paradise John Thompson passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday the 15th of March.
A well known figure in Brighton’s antique dealer community, John joined his father Frank’s house clearance business in Kensington Gardens in the early 1990s and soon after, they saw an opportunity to acquire the old Blundells store.
With the help of his best friend Nicholas Drinkwater (who sadly passed away in May 2021), John carved the huge building up into affordable rental units for micro traders, creating the North Laine's much loved indoor flea market which he christened ‘Snoopers Paradise’.
Together, John and Nic ran the business for almost 30 years.
Since news of his death, tributes have been pouring in for the businessman.
Many of the shop’s stallholders have been trading in Snoopers Paradise since its infancy and are devastated by the loss of its proprietor whom they considered a friend.
Nanda Smart who got to know John whilst trading at Brighton station market over 35 years ago, spoke of a generous man who would do anything for you. She said “Anything you needed. John was always there.”
Nick Pook also spoke of John’s unwavering generosity and empathetic nature. “He was physically intimidating but actually very gentle. Not many people knew what a kind man he was. He would lend his friends money, give to the homeless and risk a van load of antiques slamming on the brakes for an animal in the road.”
Mandy, a senior member of staff who has been involved with the shop for two decades said “we all thought the world of John” he was “an absolute legend of a man.”
And second hand book seller Bridget who’s daughter also works in store said that John was always “such a supportive presence” and that the news was “terribly sad.”
Those who had known John less long were also charmed by him. Jenny Hurren who has traded in the shop for 5 years (which is new by Snoopers standards) said;
“John was down-to-earth, likeable and generous. He kept me company for most of a Christmas party whilst funding free drinks for everyone, then quietly disappeared at the end”.
Despite being at the helm of one of Brighton’s premier tourist attractions, John was unassuming and generally kept a low profile, but he recently stepped into the spotlight to promote Snoopers Paradise on Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out By The Sea for Channel 5. He also welcomed candidates from BBC1’s The Apprentice into the shop for filming last year and was happy to see the business garnering attention in the press and on social media.
John is survived by his wife Julia, four children and a huge community of international friends who adored him and are heartbroken. He spent his final years travelling around Europe with his wife Julia and their much loved dog, Jacko.
Snoopers Paradise will forge ahead through this terribly sad time: a big pink tribute to John's legacy. There is a memory book at the front desk for anyone who wants to share a tale or two, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A service to celebrate John’s life will be announced shortly.
Photo gallery below.