If you’re in search of a special gift for a friend or family member this festive season but can’t find anything in the mall that catches your eye, then you should drive to Cape Town’s CBD instead. You’ll surely find that perfect present at one of these interesting cultural shops.
Merchants on Long
Driving up Long Street in Cape Town (take note that it’s a one-way street), you’ll come across plenty of interesting shops and restaurants, but it’s at Merchants on Long where you should stop your car. Inside one of Cape Town’s oldest Art Nouveau buildings, shoppers will experience a different style, fashion and shopping atmosphere. Here, Africa’s top clothing and accessory designers have their finest work on display. If you need some time to mull over a purchasing decision, then sit at the coffee bar, which serves Fairtrade coffees, and enjoy a slice of delectable homemade cake.
Address: 34 Long Street, 8001 Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: 021 422 28 28
Opening times: Monday-Friday: 10:00-18:00 Saturday: 10:00-14:00
Pan African Market
The Pan African Market (also found on Long Street) is housed inside a national monument, its interior decorated with Victorian tiles. As you step inside, you will instinctively know that you have found a close-knit community of African artists. Browse the first floor for charming bracelets and necklaces and the second floor for traditional African masks, instruments and ornaments – each with a unique background and history. Ask the sellers about the history and culture behind the item you intend purchasing as the riveting stories they tell that will leave you wide-eyed with awe. Most of the artists and sellers have travelled from Cameroon, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Mozambique and Mali in search of business opportunities in Cape Town. The Pan African Market is indeed a hot house for those seeking knowledge and understanding of various African cultures and traditions. After you’ve shopped up a storm, rest your feet on the first floor terrace and try a Swahili-inspired lunch.
Address: 76 Long Street
Tel: 0 21 426 4478
Opening times: Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.30pm. Saturday 8.30am-3.30pm.
The aim of Myth Africa is to keep the culture of Anatolia alive by introducing it to South Africans. You won’t need much convincing to enter the store, as the beautifully displayed Turkish crafts will catch your eye and lure you in. Every vase, lamp, plate, shawl and bag has a rich culture and story behind it. The owners of Myth Africa are extremely proud of their heritage and it’s their vision to educate and inspire the modern world on the history and culture of the Ottoman Empire. Visitors are encouraged to be curious and to ask questions about the merchandise before purchasing anything. It’s always nice to know the background of a cultural work of art.
Address: Shop 4, Allied Building, 54 Regent Road, Sea Point Cape Town.
Tel: (021) 434 1125
Opening times: Monday-Friday: 09:00-17:30. Saturday: 09:00-15:00
PAEZ is an Argentinian shoe brand popular for creating incredibly comfortable, washable canvas shoes. PAEZ drew inspiration from the traditional Alpargata shoe, dating back to 1830 in South America. Traditionally, hard-working nomadic ‘gauchos’ wore Alpargata shoes, as they were light and prevented tired and sore feet. From these humble beginnings, emerged a new Argentinean fashion, which soon spread across the world. The shoes are durable, are made from washable soft canvas and have cushioned soles. The materials used to create these shoes stretch and shape around your feet, so you always have a comfortable fit. Besides these appealing physical attributes, PAEZ shoes come in fun, vibrant patterns and colours for the fashion-conscious.
Address: 45D Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town.
Tel: (021) 422 3343
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 09:00 – 18:00. Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00. Sunday: 10:00 – 14:00
Unfortunately, only some of these stunning shops are in close proximity to each other. Walking will be too tiring, especially in summer. If you to need to rent a car to visit these shops, Betta Car Hire is a popular car hire company in Cape Town. They will gladly assist you.