Thousands of buttons are shown through the display window. A woman wearing glasses, is sewing in front of the counter. It is really easy to ignore the shop if you walk quickly across the Castle Arcade Street.
“I got restraint in America when I went to a military base to buy some army buttons. They thought I was a spy, because I had been to Russia during the cold war. After they confirmed my identity, I did buy these buttons finally,” said Claire Grove, owner of the button shop. It is one of her adventures.
In 1983, the idea of how to perfectly match fabric with buttons and her family’s hundred years background in this field drove Claire to open a shop in Cardiff.
Button is made by everything, “All natural materials like shell, wood, bone, stone, metal, amber, even camel teeth,” she said.
“A lot of buttons come from China now. Before that a lot are made in Britain. There’s a factory about 30 miles from here, which is closed down now and all the machines in that factory got sold to China.” But you can also find buttons coming from different countries, according to Claire. “Blue pottery from Jaipur, Rajasthan. Mental and leather one comes from Germany,” she said.
From ladies who sew and do the needlework to tailor, fashion students and even little children, people come to the shop and buy buttons.
People would not stop buying buttons because “the buttons which are made by machines quite often falls off and it is a kind of good news for me”, Claire said.
Keeping equal amount of all buttons in the shop is important. “All buttons sell at some points, which would just match customers’ need,” Claire said. “When they coming for a red button, they want to see ten different red buttons. So they can select the one they like.”
Claire can remember all the buttons she sold in the shop, “Each button has a memory. I classify through color, material and type.” In her point of view, each button is a work of art and the customers’ satisfaction is what keeps her moving forward.
Troutmark secondhand bookshop lies beside Claire’s shop. Jason, the keeper of Cardiff Troutmark said it was the second shop set up in 1996 by Mr Rogers, owner of Troutmark books, who also owned another bookshop in Newport market.
The books in the shop cover a wide range of subject. “It plus comics, some records, magazine, poetry, literature etc. So we have a lot of very different customers.” said Jason.
“We buy books from big collections to single items,” Jason explained. “We have different categories in the shop and I can remember all the books by publisher, color of spine fonts etc.”
Jason is quite welcoming and pleased to recommend books to customers and help them to choose the ideal book.
Nowadays, Jason is trying to find an effective system to get hold of books that arestill absent in shop and he hopes the system might turn up one day.
Miss Patisserie is an independent shop selling hand-made bath and body product located in High Street Arcade.
“I love being creative and using fantastic ingredients,” said Charlotte Ridgwell, owner of the shop. “It is a goal of mine to educate customers about the importance of natural ingredients in skincare.”
Used to study Graphic design in Kingston University, Charlotte also designed the interior decoration of the shop and tried to make products stand out for colors and aromas. “The popular product selling in our store is ‘Cupcake’ Bath Bomb.”
With an accurate sense of smell, Charlotte has always appreciated what is around her, “The senses not only inspire me with work but with my life.”
Owners follow their belief and interest to establish the shop at first. Although the range and size of the shop would not expand in the future for the moment, we still hope these kinds of independent shops would stay in Cardiff and represent a meaningful spirit.