Retro themed cafe? What a load of chic!
The stars aligned last Saturday (it was sunny outside, I wasn’t at work and, more importantly, my wife J wasn’t retching her guts up from pregnancy sickness) so we finally got the chance to go for a wonder outdoors – yay! We didn’t dare go anywhere too far, as J’s energy levels comes and goes without much warning at the moment, but we managed a little trip into our local town for lunch.
During our visit we came across a new coffee shop/vintage clothing store – yes that’s right, a coffee shop and vintage clothes store. How “quirky” J thought (J loves the quirk. Me? Not so much), so obviously we went in to explore.
It was essentially trying to mimic the warehouse “look”, complete with exposed brickwork and metal pipes. There were little wooden tables and chairs scattered around the wooden floor boarded room and occasional uncomfortable-looking straight backed sofa. Clothes racks filled the other half of the room, brimming with vintage and retro looking clothing. The place was packed with people so there were no free tables. Not a problem, J was suddenly more energised and quite happy just to peruse the clothes – it really is amazing how pregnancy tiredness comes and goes.
I’m the first to admit that I have no fashion sense, so couldn’t really say if the clothes were nice or not. They just looked old and second hand to me. I guess that makes them retro. They also smelt musty. That must be what vintage means.
I was more intrigued by the décor of the place. Clearly someone had put a lot of effort into giving it the ambience of effortless coolness. There was a Lambretta scooter in the window display, a Rayleigh chopper bicycle towards the back, which was next to a walled off old record shop staffed by an older lady dressed up like a go-go girl. Even the corridor to the toilet was home to a free standing doorframe which you could just walk around if you couldn’t be bothered to actually use the door itself.
On the other corner of the room there were some old games consoles you could play with – an old Nintendo and Sega Mega drive. A mum was clearly trying to entertain her two young children with them, but they just looked at her as if to say – “what is this crap mum?”
For me, the owner’s efforts at retro-ness was just a bit too try hard. To quote Family Guy, it “insisted upon itself” too much. It all just came across a bit pretentious, and the smell of coffee was overpowered by the air of smugness. Now don’t get me wrong, I do like old stuff (just look in my socks and pants draw), but I like really old stuff. Stuff which you have to dig up kind of old. Oh and rustic, I like rustic too. But that’s because they’re universally welcoming. Anyone is welcome to enjoy those things. You don’t need to “plan your outfit” to visit a museum. I feel the same way about bookshops, everyone’s made to feel welcome in a book shop.
I think some of these places are just trendy for the sake of being trendy (which I suppose is the only reason ever to be trendy – unless you can think of a more practical use for the skill? I can’t). More time is spent on making these places look the part, than making them feel welcoming. I don’t know if other people feel the same about these overly stylised coffee shops? I’d love to know. Perhaps it is just me.
My wife says it’s because I’m a geek. She’s probably right.