Ally, Queen of Shops

Unexpectedly lovely day yesterday as I wandered round the corner to Bedford Place to do a spot of local shopping and ended up spending several hours helping my friend Mama Hep sort out her new collection for her vintage shop, Hepwright’s

I’d stuck my head round the door to say hello and ended up getting sucked into the treasure trove of fabulousness, it’s the sort of shop where rummaging is positively encouraged and you can’t help but want to browse through all the racks, drawers, trunks and baskets. Mama Hep (Catherine) is an ever gracious host and having watched her in action, I can definitely recommend Hepwright’s as a shopping experience. After doing a whole lotta browsing I got down to helping with the folding and sorting of some seriously wonderful pieces incoming from a local Opera company. I’m not exactly what one would call a fashionista and I’m not exactly brave in my sartorial choices, nor do I really have a clue what goes with what and so it was great to be able to talk styling with Mama as we waded through piles of clothing. 

And then it happened… I was left in charge of the shop! *squeals* All my girlhood dreams were coming true as MH popped to get a coffee and I took up my position behind the counter and tried to assume an air of ‘I belong here and I know what I am doing, honestly’ by moving things round the counter and doing a spot of tidying. The façade lasted until a lady came into the shop with a bag of things to sell. Holy crapola was I out of my depth! I stalled and decided instead to show her some of my favourite things on the racks (hellooooooo yellow seersucker dress, I’m talking to you!) which prompted a lovely reminisce from her about some of the things she remembers her Mum wearing when she was growing up and thankfully took long enough for Mama Hep to return with liquid refreshment and her all encompassing vintage knowledge to save the day.

I couldn't resist making myself Ally, Queen of Shops.
I couldn’t resist making myself Ally, Queen of Shops.

It made me realise quite how crap and impersonal shopping on the high street can be, as I watched customers come in and share their stories, each one lavished with individual attention and service. We met the loveliest Irish ladies and by the end of the afternoon, I knew more about the pair of them than I know about some of the friends I’ve known for years. At one point the four of us were sat cross legged on the floor of the shop poring over old maps whiling away time and shooting the breeze. Mama Hep knows her stock inside out and will always go rummaging in ‘Narnia’ (the stockroom at the back of the shop) if she thinks there is something back there that you might fall in love with.

It was such fun getting to play shops and help a friend out all at once, and when the time came to say goodbye I left the shop with a smile on my face and a spring in my step, which was further magnified when a very handsome bearded young gentleman, riding a proper old fashioned bicycle and rocking a wicked tweed suit, dinged his bike bell at me as he sailed past, he may as well have doffed his cap it was so positively perfect to top off my vintage day.

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Hepwright’s is located at 34 Bedford Place, Southampton and is SO worth dropping in to. You can also chat to Mama Hep @hepvintage on Twitter or visit their website http://www.hepwrights.com

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