Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Vintage Shopping in Barcelona

Last week, I posted about our vintage shopping adventure down in Exeter, and I was told by a few people that they enjoyed reading it (why, thank you!) So this week I thought I would tell you about our vintage shopping experience in a slightly more exotic setting: Barcelona. Hope you enjoy it!

Back in January, we stole ourselves away from work and the punishing winter weather for a few days to sunny Spain. Well, it was sunny, but not warm, since it was January, but just to feel the sun on our faces was wonderful. We went to Barcelona, which is an amazing city, full of culture, wonderful architecture and... vintage shopping of course! It seems like we can't go anywhere these days without checking out what the vintage shops are like, and we had a lot of time tracking down some vintage treasure troves in Barcelona.
Mercat de la Boqueria, a must see for when your tummy starts to rumble, a beautiful old hat shop in the Barri Gotic, and UK Look, 'the best of Carnaby Street in Barcelona'

Barcelona is a vibrant, fashionable city with lots of students and young people, so it is unsurprising that there are a good number of vintage shops. We found a few while wondering around the labyrinth that is the Barri Gotic, which is the old town right in the centre of the city just off La Rambla. We found an interesting shop called UK Look, which pretty much was as you would expect - indie type looks influenced by the 1960's, think lots of denims, duffle coats and Beatles posters. They describe it as 'the best of Carnaby Street in Barcelona', which is pretty apt. While you are in the Barri Gotic, it's worth checking out Gotham on Carrer de Cervantes, which is a really interesting mid century furniture shop. You might not have room in your luggage allowance for any of their pieces, but they also sell fun cushion covers, knick nacks and t shirts if you want a souvenir.

We found the best selection of vintage shops was in El Raval, which is the more bohemian neighbourhood on the other side of La Rambla. Walking along the Carrer de l'Hospital we found a couple of charity shops which were reasonably priced and had some good vintage pieces, particularly print dresses and leather handbags. Further along, we found the first of many vintage shops, which was a little grotto of a shop crammed full of vintage t shirts, army jackets, denim and shirts. The focus was mainly menswear and mainly 70's and 80's, however we found it to be really quite expensive, with most t shirts being over 20 euro, and while I can't remember the name of the shop I don't think that matters too much since I would not really recommend it, as there are much better shops just around the corner.

Contrasts: grungy army surplus to elegant vintage boutique
We were a little disappointed by our first vintage shop visit, but we needn't have worried about it as we were about to hit the epicentre of vintage in Barcelona! We turned on to Carrer de la Riera Baixa, and found a fantastic row of vintage shops, record shops and what can only be described as fascinating junk shops. You may be wondering why it's dark in all these photos, one of the great things about shopping in Spain is that most of the shops stay open until at least 8pm, perfect for fitting in around those holiday lie ins!

What was most interesting about these shops was that they all had their own unique flavour, from the military focus of La Garita, to the more ladylike chic of La Vella Maia. The fabulously named Amazing Barcelona was a really interesting mish mash of furniture, bits and bobs, books and pictures. 

My favourite shop along this street was Lullaby, which was beautifully presented and arranged in era order. I loved the murals they had painted on the walls, and despite the fact that it was one of the fanciest looking shops on the row, it was one of the most reasonably priced.

Fantastik by name, fantastic by nature!

Fantastik, while not a vintage shop at all, was one of the highlights of our trip. Located on Calle JoaquĆ­n Costa, a little further up from the other shops, it is a collection of the kitsch and wonderful from all over the world. They had everything from little clockwork robots from Japan to kitschy homewares from Mexico and retro school posters from India. Great for gifts or for cute and quirky additions to your home. The prices were superbly reasonable as well. If you can't hop over to Spain for a look, you can shop online.

Finally, just by Fantastik we found another beautiful vintage interiors shop, Fusta'm. We were lusting over this wooden unit in the window but sadly (or possibly for the best) the shop had closed for the day. Ah well, I wouldn't have managed to fit it in my suitcase anyway!
So there you have it, our little stroll around the vintage shops of Barcelona. This is by no means an exhaustive guide to the vintage shopping in the city, I'm sure there are many more fabulous shops that we missed, and we didn't have time to seek out any flea markets or vintage fairs. If you have any tips for vintage shopping in Barcelona, we would love to hear them!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Vintage Shopping in Exeter and Around

Unexpectedly amazing - The Vintage Trading Co, Exeter

James and I took a couple of days off this week and went to visit his parents, who live in lovely Devon. It was nice to take a break from work, it's something that we are trying to get better at doing! Having said that, you can take the vintage magpies away from work, but you can't stop them vintage hunting...

On our way into Exeter for a spot of lunch and shopping, we drove past the Vintage Trading Co, an average looking warehouse type building on a trading estate on the outskirts of the city. Our curiosity got the better of us and we stopped for a look. I'll be honest, my expectations of the place were not high as it really didn't look anything special from outside, but once we got through the doors we found ourselves in a pretty little vintage paradise! Never judge a book by it's cover, eh?

The main room was spacious and light, and had sections that seemed to be run by independent traders, which meant that each area had it's own little flavour. Some sections focused on reworked furniture in a more shabby chic style, others were more classic antiques style stuff and some were an eclectic mix. Our favourite sections were the amazing mid century areas, which were arranged like real rooms and were so inviting.

There was also another large room full of furniture and other bits and bobs, this area was more of a mix but was equally interesting. All in all, the prices were pretty reasonable, we bought a leather bag for £8 and an atomic magazine rack for £12.

After this, we were in a wombling state of mind and spotted a nearby charity furniture shop, and an amazing second hand warehouse called Steptoe's Market, where we found this beauty of a sideboard, which cost just £20! As you can see, it was actually a dressing table, but the mirror easily came unscrewed and we had our perfect sideboard (and a spare mirror for vintage fairs!). We have been looking for something like this for ages, and all the ones we had seen on eBay or in charity shops were either really expensive or not quite right, but this one ticked all of the boxes. It's just the right size, and has that great 1960's feel we were looking for. It needs to be sanded back and re-stained, but it is in otherwise superb condition. We love it.

Our bargain sideboard as we found it, and fitting in perfectly at home.

The next day, James suggested we take a trip to Exmouth Tip. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this suggestion didn't excite me. But then, he explained that Exmouth Tip, or Exmouth Recycling Centre as it is officially known, actually has a shop where they sell items that have been dumped there but are actually in good condition and can be reused. It is fantastic! I am such a big believer in reusing things wherever possible, and it always makes me feel so sad when people throw stuff away that could be used by someone else, so it was so good to see the people at the tip giving this stuff a new lease of life, and earning a little money in the process. There was lots of furniture, hardware such as door handles and even a lovely roll top bath, as well as brik-a-brak, books, records, dvds and all sorts of weird and wonderful items. We bought some records, which were 40p each, and some vases, which were 50p each. I really hope that tips in other areas will follow their lead and start offering this service, it is such a good idea.

Having a good old rummage at Exmouth Recycling Centre

If you live in Devon or are planning to visit, I'd definitely recommend taking a break between cream teas and checking these places out! We're back in Birmingham and back to work now, but we're already looking forward to our next visit.
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