Meet the LGBTQ+ business making the jump from pop-up shop to permanent

Following a successful Pride and a strong summer, the Queer Emporium is getting ready to become a permanent part of Cardiff’s high street

Man standing behind the till, in front of a display of products.
Manager Yan White is still getting used to running his business

After popping up in June, the UK’s first Queer Emporium has decided to make Cardiff its permanent home.

This central shop, facing out onto St Mary’s Street, was originally intended to be a four week pop-up for Pride Month, but is now currently transitioning into a full-time store.

The Emporium’s founder and manager Yan White, 28, connected with other LGBTQ+ run businesses over lockdown and decided to create a collaborative shop that would be open throughout June.

However, a week before opening the shop was extended to a three-month pop-up to accommodate Pride Cymru in August. It was then offered a permanent lease by Morgan Arcade in mid-July.

“After the opening I was expecting things to take a bit of a dip and slow down but in reality things just kept picking up,” said Yan.

Rory Fleming, central manager of the Morgan Arcade said, “It was a no brainer for us. The fact that the shop has been a success meant that we were more than happy to provide Yan with a bit more security.”

A yellow bag sitting on a rack of black clothes.
One of the Emporium’s brightest tote bags draped over their darkest clothing line

The shop, now with a staff of seven, has 17 vendors operating from it and is looking to extend its opening hours.

Bristol born Yan said, “We’re still transitioning between that pop-up model to a more permanent shop and it’s a very steep learning curve.”

As part of this, the business is planning to rebuild its outside street café. By putting up stronger walls, larger umbrellas and outdoor lighting, manager Yan said he hoped to create a more durable area and introduce a bigger programme of community events.

The Queer Emporium currently runs a series of night time events from the Royal Arcade, but plans to move such evenings, such as the Clumsy Cabaret on October 30, into the new space.

Yan’s LGBTQ+ favourites:

  • Trans Aid Cymru– This charity helps trans, non-binary and intersex people across Wales through community projects
  • Cardiff LGBTQ+ Clinic– A law clinic offering free legal advice to members of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Aubergine Cafe – A space ran by a team of autistic adults seeking to provide a safe space for the queer community
  • SpokesPerson CIC– a community interest company hoping to create better access to cycling