Independent shopping in Cardiff 

We’re so lucky when it comes to shopping in Cardiff. We have an amazing city centre with a mix of almost all the best-loved high street brands (I still get a bit of a thrill when I walk into John Lewis. Seriously) but if you know where to look, you can find some wonderful independent shops too, which set us aside from every other city centre in the UK. 

Most of these independents can be found in Cardiff’s beautiful Arcades or tucked away in places like Cardiff Market. Although it’s great to wander around Cardiff’s nooks and crannies, sometimes I am a lazy shopper. I need to get in, grab what I need and get out!  Actually that’s being an effective shopper rather than lazy, isn’t it? So that’s why it’s great to see more independent shops popping up in St Davids Arcade, alongside the bigger chains.

J admiring the Lego art at Bricks at Home, Cardiff

I was invited by St David’s to visit two of their independent pop-ups, Bricks at Home and Ushi’s.

Andy Warhol-inspired artwork at Bricks at Home, Cardiff

I first visited Bricks at Home last Christmas, when they were holding a pop-up at a different location in Cardiff. I loved their mix of Lego-inspired artworks and homewares. 

Bricks at Home is the brain child of Andy Morris, a financier-turned-artist. He creates quirky Lego-themed artworks, inspired by artists like Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol. Perfect for the kids and big kids in your life. 

Travels with Roo postcard available from Bricks at Home, Cardiff

Bricks at Home also sell smaller, more affordable home wares such as prints, cushions and knick-knacks like Lego-shaped jewellery boxes, key rings and pencils. Much of it sourced from independent Cardiff-based designers. 

The Bricks at home shop will shortly be moving from its current location in St Davids but is planning more pop ups in the future. And in the meantime you can buy on their website www.bricksathome.com

Ushi’s pop-up, St David’s, Cardiff

Next up was a visit to Ushi’s. I was already familiar with Ushi’s in Cowbridge and Wellfield Road and love their quirky gifts and homewares. I especially enjoy visiting at Christmas time to stock up on some unique festive decorations.

Ushi’s in St Davids is stocking slightly different products, mainly clothes and accessories, alongside a small home decor offering. 

The clothes are mostly independent designers you can’t get on the high street and they’re definitely capitalising on their spot opposite The White Company and Coast. 

I’ll be honest that the clothes aren’t exactly my style but I spotted a few summer pieces that my Mum and Auntie would love and a gorgeous summer hat that I’m going to go back and have another look at. 

Perfect summer hat at Ushi’s, St David’s, Cardiff

Ushi’s pop up in St Davids will stay open until at least the summer. 

If you love independent shops here are some of my other favourites around Cardiff

  • Wally’s Deli, Royal Arcade (A Cardiff Institution; stocking food from Europe and America and a deli counter featuring the best olives ever)
  • Milgi Market, Cardiff Indoor Market (Veggie salad bowls and treats)
  • Wellfield Books, Wellfield Road (A lovely little book emporium to get lost in)
  • Nest Vintage Living, Rhiwbina (Homewares and toys)
  • Bant a la Cart, Pontcanna (Amazing Welsh food. Try their ready-made pies and quiches)
  • Enerchi, Radyr (Beauty salon; stocking L’Occitane, Caudalie, Pukka teas and boutique beauty products)

Which is your favourite independent Cardiff shop? Leave your comments below! 

This post was written in collaboration with St Davids Arcade, who gifted me a voucher in return. This is an honest review, featuring my own opinions. 

My #ShopCardiff week

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Last week I took on the Shop Cardiff challenge.

It was a really fun week and looking at my Twitter stream, lots of people were getting involved. Here are some of my highlights;

Fitness
I’m not currently a member of a gym, when I exercise I use council-run leisure centres or independent yoga studios. So hot yoga at Elite Fitness in Fairwater on Monday and another class at Yoga Fever on Saturday wasn’t that unusual for me. However, I hadn’t been to the former since their studio relocated from the city centre to Splott a few months ago and I’d forgotten how good Sharon’s classes really were.

Eating out
This is where Shop Cardiff really came into its own. On Thursday I met up with a friend for dinner. This friend and I meet up quite regularly, so to keep costs down we usually hunt out a 2-for-1 deal or some other voucher, mostly in chain restaurants. But I suggested that on this occasion we meet at the Smoke House in Pontcanna, a new restaurant which I’d already heard good things about. I’m so glad we did. The food was perfect (see the pulled pork above – yum), the staff incredibly friendly and it wasn’t even that expensive – under £15 a head for a main course and a beer was much better than a chain deal, when you consider the service and quality of the food.

I also ventured back to Pontcanna on the Saturday night with my husband, for dinner at Fish at 85. Again the quality of the food and the service was a cut above what you’d expect in a chain. This meal was more pricey, but we were celebrating my new job and his birthday so it was what we’d expect to pay for a special night out.

Shopping
This is where I fell down. Being a full-time working Mum means I stuck to my once-weekly supermarket shop, which I get delivered to the house. For convenience and price it is one thing that really helps me juggle my time.

However I made the effort to head over to Wally’s Deli for Easter chocolate treats after work one evening (my boss sent us home early on the Thursday before bank holiday – whoo hoo – otherwise it would have been closed by the time I’d got out of the office and walked there.)

I also needed to buy some birthday balloons so rather than heading to a supermarket I popped into the party supplies shop in Llandaff North at the weekend. I’ve used it before and it’s great, they’ve got loads of party stuff and its easy to park.

Others
During the week I also visited Salon Nia in Radyr for eyebrow threading and we took our little boy to Gelynis Farm for the Easter Egg Hunt, which was really fun and only £3 per child. You can see a pic of the bunny doing her thing below. Although these are both things I would have done despite it being Shop Cardiff week.

Overall I was surprised at how much it wasn’t actually that much of a challenge for me, as I regularly use independents. However where I failed during the week (supermarket shopping and two Brains pub lunches) it was purely down to convenience – particularly as I don’t work in the city centre.

What struck me is that what you get with independents is personality and customer service. When chains expand they seem to employ larger amounts of low-paid staff, who don’t really buy into the ethos of the company.

Perhaps next year I’d organise my time better and stock up on fruit, veg and food for the week at one of the Riverside markets rather than using a supermarket.

I hope Shop Cardiff continues to build on its success. I’m looking forward to #ShopCardiff2014 already.

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