Outside 69A, Murdoch is surreptitiously guarding the street wares. Apparently, he likes mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumber, which is unusual for cats. He’s pretty good at jumping out and scaring the customers too.
Visitors to Great Britain will agree that it is a nation of shopkeepers. As fashion brings back the wardrobes of the 1950’s, 60’s and 80’s Liverpool has capitalised on this revival scene. It has a good selection of quality thrift shops and original antique stores, as well as an annual vintage fair. I wanted to explore two areas that have been given a new lease of life: first the student village area of Ropewalks, on the edge of the city centre and then the uber-hipster Baltic Triangle area, an old industrial quarter opposite the Albert Docks.
69A have flogged their wares in a couple of different central Liverpool locations successfully since 1977. They are still going strong in their current spot on XXX st, despite competition from online shopping and high streets full of charity shops. Inside it was a mystery tour of magical proportions, you never knew what you might find. The nice aspect of this emporium was that it looked curated, items were orderly and nicely displayed. In the centre were large globe lights illuminating big Buddhas and mature cheese plants. Even the greenery was retro 70’s. The old curiosity shop had a wealth of stock, from vinyl to cameras via rolling pins. I loved the feeling of cared for nostalgia; it wasn’t one of those soulless modern recycling centres, it was a home for once loved items, looking for new owners.
Up and around the corner was Pop Boutique. This is a nice store which had a retro vibe rather than second hand. Their clothes seemed to be either brand new but made in a vintage style, or they had made new items from old fabrics. The interior was decorated with recycled and reclaimed wood and light furnishings, which made it unique. Established in 1985, the small chain has grown from early beginnings as a market stall to several stores. They have a policy of not letting any garments going to waste, which I fully supported. They also championed other independent retailers in the Ropewalks area, encouraging customers to eat and drink in their neighbour’s establishments. How very old fashioned of them.
Cow is situated further along Bold Street from Pop Boutique. This is vintage given the full modern twist. The store was super funky and fresh, not like any vintage store I had been in before. There was no need to rummage, the interior was white, bright, and featured orderly displays. I loved the fact that their items were all handpicked and presented in a contemporary high street style. Finally! Ironically they were offering the latest trend of 90’s shell suits; at the peak of their popularity, Liverpudlians were constantly ridiculed for wearing them. Now they are back in fashion and Cow has milked it. What a clever Cow.
Over in the Baltic triangle area, I went on quite a ‘stumbled upon’ adventure. It’s an area full of creative hubs, indoor festival spaces and pop-up shops in amongst old beer factories, car washes, and skate parks.
I entered the seemingly abandoned red brick factory building and was greeted with a microcosm of activity. There was second-hand furniture for sale and a cute wine bar with people enjoying a nice Friday afternoon drink. In the former delivery area of Cain’s brewery building was a little collective of activity, bringing life into this previous deserted piece of Liverpool’s history. Built in 1858 it has stood empty since 2013 waiting for a new lease of life, which currently seems to be this little cool hideaway collective. With the hipster revival and gritty, urban setting I sure hope it continues to grow in an eclectic manner.
Over the street, I managed to catch a glimpse of the Baltic Market, an indoor ‘street’ eating experience, based on the Asian template of small stalls around some free for all seating. There was a wide range of cuisines, a full bar (with craft beer of course!) and a space for some dancing. The force behind the market was a collective that supported independent businesses and wanted to break the monotony of chain stores dominating British shops and food outlet choices. Unfortunately, I was there a little too early to grab a bite as the culinary creatives were just setting up. Dang.
To make up for bad timing I ventured out further to find the Baltic Bakehouse, voted one of the top twenty bakeries in the UK by a national newspaper. That’s one mighty fine accolade. They pride themselves in slow food, taking up to 72 hours to produce their signature breads. I wanted to try some of their pastries, in particular, the lemon curd doughnuts. But I was out of luck again, they had completely sold out of everything. Yep, the cupboard was bare. Double dang.
Walking around and investigating both areas I definitely got to feel the vibes. Liverpool has embraced counter culture chic and put itself on the map as one of the most forward thinking cities. I found it so interesting to look around and investigate the Baltic Triangle and Ropewalks area because they were saturated in character and innovation. Some famous Liverpudlian residents once talked about a revolution. I think with the mindsets of the independent retailers and Murdoch on your side, it’s gonna be, alright.
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