Katie Hamer continues her A–Z series with further discoveries about vintage Cardiff. This time she visits The Castle Emporium, previously the Fashion Quarter until it’s relaunch on St. David’s Day of this year…
I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived outside The Castle Emporium. The building undeniably has one of the most recognizable locations. Positioned as it is, close to the Bute (clock) Tower to Cardiff Castle, I had no trouble finding it.
From the outside it’s very plain, with cream-coloured walls that lack any decoration. It would be easy to walk by it without batting an eyelid, as I’m sure Cardiff commuters do every day. All I can say is thank goodness I didn’t.
Once inside, there’s just this amazing artisan feel. It’s more akin to the pop-up shops that enable small businesses to become established, than the traditional market place. I really got a sense of creative minds, from varying paths, all working together to create this vibrant space.
My only regret is that I chose a quiet time of the week to visit and not all the businesses were open for trading. The upside, however, was that it did make it peaceful to browse. Of the merchandise I did see, the following made the biggest impression:
Eagle Eye Vintage
Previously located at Jacobs Emporium, Eagle Eye Vintage got me excited about tie-dyed t-shirts in a way that I hadn’t been by the ones on sale at Hobo’s. They have an interesting range of accessories as well, with some odd looking watches. The giant Eagle Eye logo made this outlet very easy to locate. The wall decorations and the giant Persian rug lend to this space an otherworldly feel, almost like stepping on to a theatrical stage rather than a shop.
You can find more information about them here:
Their slogan ‘Vintage Clothes, Modern Style’ sums this place up. Here clothing and other things from another era are given a new lease of life. There are the Snoopies and Gordon the Gopher as well as retro shoes and denim. Colourful boxed shelves fill the back wall and lend the whole space a Pop Art dimension. Particularly eye-catching for me were a display of cup cakes which sadly turned out not to be edible.
You can find more information on Rock-Ola here:
Secondhand books with a decidedly vintage feel, overlooked by the head of a giant Minotaur head (mythical half-man, half-beast creature of Greek origins). Books, like vinyl, have taken on an almost mythical status since the advent of digital downloads. Despite the convenience of digital downloads, there’s still nothing quite like owning a physical copy, is there? And here the books, which seem to be in good condition, have a chance of a second or perhaps even third loving home.
I couldn’t find a website for them, although confusingly they share their name with a New York publishing firm.
Rough Neck Candles
Candles in vintage tins. A candle with a difference – once the candle’s gone, you still have the tin. A neat idea and they make for an attractive display.
Jones the Barber
A traditional barber with a shop resembling something you’d expect to find in a museum exhibit from a bygone era. Just perfect for a hair cut or for giving your beard a trim (not mine, you understand!)
Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey
A specialist in Doctor Who artifacts, they weren’t open when I visited, although I did find a flyer promising me a free film cell key ring with any purchase. So perhaps I will return (after some time travel).
Other places to visit, though not strictly vintage:
An open art exhibition space currently displaying bold paintings from Pembroke artists. There are coastal paintings in highly-charged colours which spring to life when viewed through 3-D glasses (provided). Well worth a visit.
Places I would be curious to see on a return visit, but which weren’t open on a quiet Monday morning:
Simply – Cardiff’s 100% Vegan Store
Musique Al’s Boutique – Super smart menswear, accessories, collectibles and vintage ideas for the man about town and country
Amaras – Fair Trade, Incense, Hats, Gloves, Gifts and much more
Camilleri Photography – Who are all about the photos which purportedly sell themselves, and they do a fine line in portraiture/wedding photography.
So, if you’re into supporting small local business then you couldn’t choose a better place to visit.
Look here for more information on The Castle Emporium:
Late Night Opening
Watch out for announcements for late night ‘Summer Nights’ openings, the first of which took place last week, future dates yet to be confirmed.
Thanks again for reading. See you next time!