What makes Bristol Shopping Quarter such a vibrant place? We think it’s the people who shop, work and socialise here. Read some of their stories, captured by local photographer Colin Moody, and see what you think.
The one thing for sure is, they all love Bristol and so do we!
PureGym – Francis and Melissa
Francis is a regular at PureGym on Union Street. He’s pictured here with manager Melissa.
“I’m self-employed and sometimes you will find me performing in Broadmead, showing off my skills. My brother lives in Bristol so I came here too as it’s so friendly. I come to PureGym and they are very generous and kind. They make you feel at home right away. Since I joined they have shown me such kindness and freedom; this helps me and my friends to upgrade our skills. Now, let me show you my superman…”
London Camera Exchange – Simon
Simon is the manager of London Camera Exchange on The Horsefair.
He says: “London Camera Exchange has been here since 1993 but it was in 1901 that it first became a camera shop. Way back. Look, let me show you a photograph taken by Fred Little over 100 years ago – the view from the shop is a bit different now!”
“I love meeting people… it’s all about the meet and greet. That’s everything to me. I’ve been here for seven years and I recently got a promotion; I’m the manager now. People wander in and talk about all sorts. We find out about everyone’s stories.
“And, with regards to those old photos, well, we found a couple of hundred in the loft above the shop. Prints dating back to 1880. Priceless Broadmead history, right here on The Horsefair.”
Mabz, who runs an independent key-cutting and shoe repair shop in The Arcade, is well-known as one of Bristol Shopping Quarter’s biggest characters. He sees The Arcade’s retailers as family… and family is everything.
“At first this place was a bit run down. The Arcade was a mess. Then we, the family, came in. It’s about The Arcade first and then it’s about the shop. We provide services and we care. I’m here seven days a week. I work hard but that’s what it’s all about. I believe everyone can be great. Everyone knows me, Mabz, come say hi – let’s do this!”
Sobey’s Vintage – Hannah and Ruby
Opposite Mabz’s shop you’ll find Sobey’s Vintage where Hannah and Ruby work.
Hannah says: “Our products are sustainable. It’s such a great idea and the way in which we give a second life to old, damaged clothes attracts customers.
“There is a community feel here. The man Mabz, on the other side of The Arcade, fixed my hoover for me, just like that. That’s what it’s like in The Arcade… such a great place.”
Jess – Barber Brown
Jess is the artistic director at Barber Brown on Bond Street.
She says: “There is not a lot we need to do to make things better. Back in the day I’d come to Broadmead and only shop in The Galleries. Now everything has expanded and people should walk around to see more.
“Hop off the Metrobus and pop in. This is a gender neutral salon, anyone with hair is welcome! Our pricing is based on on the length of the hair and that’s our ethos. We’ve got such a great team.
“I’m back in hairdressing after a break and for me it’s personal development and the place that’s important to me now. I used to come all the way from Bath to get my hair cut here and now it’s where I work.”
Café Casa – Mustapha
Café Casa on the St James Barton roundabout is one of Bristol’s oldest coffee shops, established in 2001 when owner Mustapha took over the former Flipper fish and chip shop. He turned it into an English-style cafe, something he thought was missing from the area.
“Look out of the window and you see the whole world go by”, he says.
“We are very friendly and we offer such a wide choice – our Cottage Pie is very popular.”
Mustapha introduces Colin to some of his regulars, greeting everybody individually and making sure they have a good table. “The body language says it all” says Colin.
Now located on Merchant Street, TK Maxx first opened in The Galleries a quarter of a century ago; it was the company’s first ever European store. Karen has been with the company all that time and her colleagues had a surprise for her on the anniversary in March.
Her manager Sadie says: “Karen was here before they opened on the first day. She’s been with the company longer than anyone.”
Colin captures the moment perfectly: “Karen said very little when I saw her, she was speechless but her colleagues were very proud of her. They were all gathered around and it was hard to see how to share her story in one shot until I asked her to release the 25th balloon onto the ceiling… just look at the faces of her colleagues. This is a team thing. No question.”
Everything Hair – Victoria
Everything Hair in The Galleries offers a fantastic range of wigs, hair pieces, and extensions, including ponytails, buns, fringes and volumisers.
Victoria runs the shop with her husband John. She says: “We’ve been here for 12 years and have such a wide range of customers including cancer patients dealing with hair loss. We can use a screen if someone needs privacy; we consider just a normal part of our service.
“There are three girls and myself here and we all have a sympathetic ear; I experienced it with my daughter, so I understand.”
Wed2B – Jade
Jade is a relatively new member of the team at Wed2B, which is located on the first (middle) floor of The Galleries.
Colin asks her what makes working in this store special: “Mums.” she says, “You get someone ready and then out walks the daughter all dressed up and mum cries. Mums always cry when they see their daughters in ‘the’ dress.”
Fun Warehouse – Sally
Located on the same floor of The Galleries as Wed2B, Fun Warehouse sells everything you need for a party or event, from fabulous fancy dress costumes to bespoke balloons.
Owner Sally says: “I used to work in the world of corporate communications and had been itching to run my own business when the Christmas Steps costume and joke shop turned up for sale… my husband used to buy stink bombs there!”
Sally moved her business to The Galleries three years ago and it’s gone from strength to strength.
“With all the different occasions we cater for, well, you feel you are getting involved with their party… their day. All walks of life come in here; it’s never the same day twice!”
There is one thing that makes her sad though: “I’ve never been invited to a fancy dress party!”
The Post Office in WHSmith – Matthew and Sue
The Post Office has recently moved from the second (top) floor of The Galleries to a new space within WHSmith on the ground floor.
When Colin goes in, Sue is visiting from Oxford to help with the transition. She looks on while Colin chats to Matthew:
“Everything is brand new and the staff are too. Customers are being tolerant and patient to let us help them properly.
“When I’m not working here, you’ll find me as a customer in HMV mostly… staying in Broadmead for the day.”
Collection & Co – Felesha
Close to the Post Office and WHSmith on the ground floor of The Galleries is Collection & Co, a fantastic boutique specialising in vegan footwear and accessories.
Designer Felesha says:
“Vegan products and the market for them is growing fast in Bristol. It’s not all slip-on, traditional hemp shoes. Our customer base is as varied as the shoes, which are made from materials such as recycled plastics, pineapple leaves, and organic cotton.”
Colin asks to take her photograph but she declines…
“Just photograph the shoes please; it’s all about the shoes… always the shoes.
“These are made from recycled plastic, naturally dyed. They are good for day to night.”
Slater Menswear – Mark and Valrita
“This is Valrita. She’s been here since we opened three years ago” says Mark, manager at Slater Menswear on Union Street.
The pair are exchanging some banter when Colin visits the store…
“We get each other’s sense of humour” says Valrita.
Mark and his team pride themselves on giving every customer a personal shopping experience.
“No two days are the same here.” says Mark, “Everyone who comes in has their own style and no one judges anyone.
“Oh, and by the way, sometimes you might hear the ‘Are you being served?’ theme tune come on over the store speakers and a certain section of the customers get it and smile… classic.”
Café Amore – Goodarz
Since opening his cafe on Nelson Street 28 years ago, Goodarz has covered almost every inch of the walls with his personal collection of enamel advertising signs.
“The dream was to have a chain.” he says. “It didn’t materialise but I’ve always enjoyed this type of trade – a coffee shop with some extras, like food, all home-made here.
“All my ingredients come from local people. I always look for independent businesses to supply me – it’s the indies that need support. People put their heart and soul into it; I love that.
“Work for me is 18 or 19 hours a day… that’s normal. It’s not just business though, if I could help anyone, I’d do anything.”
Join in the conversation
These are just a few of the people that make Bristol Shopping Quarter unique. Join in the conversation on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and let us know about your favourite characters, using the hashtag #BSQPeopleAreBest
For now, we’ll let Goodarz have the last word…
“I love Bristol… it’s the best city. The people are very, very loyal and supportive. You could say Bristol is a little island in itself – welcoming everyone and very open-minded.”