The Cape Town CBD is known for its street-front shopping, funky clothing stores on Long Street and great pedestrian browsing down St George’s Mall, but there is also another slightly lesser known world of retail in the growing number of boutique malls that can found around town. The Cape Town Central City Improvement District, knows every inch of the CBD and they gave us the low-down on where to find some of the best hidden, shops in Cape Town’s central city!
Situated in the shadow of the Parliamentary office tower on the corner of Plein and Commercial streets, Waalford House was turned into the Waalford Centre in October 2013. Its 1929 facade hides a wonderful collection of independent stores, including Caffé Delight, a Colombian coffee bar that takes the pretension out of good coffee.
“When Zuma’s in town it gets really busy here” jokes Caffé Delight’s owner, Paola. Though the president himself has never popped in for a latte and one of Delight’s delightful gourmet sandwiches, the café regularly serves civil servants and workers from surrounding organisations such as the Scalabrini Centre and Greenpop. They visit in their droves for the well-priced single-origin coffee imported from Colombia and roasted especially by Tribe. You’d do well to make this your first port of call in the Waalford Centre, but more secrets worth uncovering lie beyond the mall’s great coffee.
Fashionistas will be immediately attracted to Keesha’s Closet with its funky garments and equally funky shopkeeper, Bizza. He says the store is focused on the “stylish business class”. “Whenever there’s an event at Parliament, workers there run to us. During the opening of Parliament this year, three ladies from Durban wanted to join in the festivities. They wanted to dress smart. I was about to close the shop for the evening but I let them come in and find the perfect outfit.”
Bizza has been at Keesha’s Closet since last June. He says the shopkeepers at the Waalford Centre are like a family. “We’re all here to make money. There’s no competition. We even discuss strategies to improve our businesses. And if I’m out of the shop for five minutes, the shopkeeper across the hall, Janelle, will receive my customers on my behalf and give me a call to come back.” Janelle, from Whites Herbal Shop, concurs: “We all get along well and all look out for each other.”
Whites Health Shop was the first to open in the Waalford Centre. It specialises in herbal health and homeopathic remedies, and also sells foodstuffs and even home beer-brewing kits.
Other shops at the Waalford Centre include Realmeal Restaurant (with a cool outdoor area), GlamPort Hair & Beauty (where you can get a massage if you need a break from shopping), Herbal natural medical products, Angelo Raker immigration practitioner and even a sangoma.
Vibe: a clever redevelopment in the East City
Facilities: a communal seating area; disabled toilets
Where to find it: Address: 109 Plein St | www.waalfordcentre.com, 079 876 5855 & 079 876 5900
2. 210 on Long:
Long Street is known for its amazing shops, markets, restaurants, bars, cafés and clubs, but is also has an environmentally friendly shopping haven at 210 on Long. This mini is where you’ll find a dozen retailers selling a wide array of products and wares, Mantra tattoo parlour, a salon for hair extensions and a Korean barbecue for when you fancy unusual cuisine!
Galbi brings a slice (or rather, a cut) of Korea to Cape Town. Game (including zebra), chicken and vegetables are brought to your table, where you barbecue it yourself – each table has a small grill.
Hemp is a sustainable crop and Hemporium sells everything you could ever think could be made from it and more – including clothing, bags, kidswear and accessories. It’s also a place to learn more about this often misunderstood material.
A tailor, Abdoul, is tucked away up a flight of stairs near the entrance of Minato sushi and dim sum restaurant. Abdoul says he loves Long Street and wanted to be part of its special retail vibe. His shop, filled to the brim with cloth, cotton and sewing machines, is just big enough for his craft: garment design and manufacture for men and women (including wedding dresses), and alterations. Bring your designs or ideas and Abdoul will translate it into the garment you want.
Other shops at 210 on Long include Class of 09 clothing and accessories, Classical Thai massages, Laundry on Long (a brilliantly old-school laundromat), Cape Convenience Store and Smokers Deli.
Vibe: sustainable shopping
Where to find it: 210 Long St | 021 481 1820
Facilities: a Standard Bank ATM
Grandfather clocks and an air of preservation greet you as you enter Long Street Antique Arcade. It’s the perfect spot for antiques lovers, with 12 shops crammed into a series of indoor alleyways. All are individually owned and showcase everything from books to jewellery, vintage clothing, cameras, watches and militaria. Check the website for a comprehensive list of retailers.
Vibe: an Aladdin’s cave
Where to find it: 27 Long Street | 021 423 2504
Facilities: a small “food court” with a tearoom
4. Other CBD malls:
The Golden Acre (9 Adderley St) is the CBD’s largest and one of the oldest malls in South Africa. Located adjacent to the Cape Town main transport hub, the mall is easy to reach and a great place to spend time if you’re waiting for a bus or train, as it’s full of chain stores as well as some interesting diversions. The Golden Acre is connected with the Grand Parade Centre and, via Parliament Street, Grand Central. Picbel Parkade is up the road on Strand Street and is home to the CBD’s Pick ‘n Pay branch, as well as a number of smaller retailers.