I was a little worried when I came home from Belfast. You see, I set out from Birmingham feeling sure we would win this one, what with COW Vintage on Digbeth High St and Urban Village and all. I faltered, but did not change my mind, after finding Best Vintage in Belfast.
Although it’s a great clothes shop and I got a lovely little broach, it doesn’t offer retail space opportunities to other traders and have the varied market feel of Urban Village.
But then I found Viva Retro on Lower North Street.
It was a gloriously disorganised treasure trove – a kind of garage sale full of the best and brilliantly worst goods of years gone by. Plus, where else would you find a shop manager prepared to pose in a Sinclair C5 car wearing a white leather riding hat? I spent a couple of hours in this place, just rooting through the piles and piles of vintage, squealing at every interesting new find. But I left with a heavy heart, realising I’d have to face Urban Village owner Frankie Johns after declaring Belfast the vintage victor.
Luckily, shortly after I arrived home, this Urban Village film got posted onto YouTube.
It’s brilliant – open, passionate and full of Frankie’s personal love for all things vintage. Belfast does have some great vintage shops. But Birmingham not only has those, it has an enthusiast in the shape of Frankie Johns, who has taken it upon himself to educate us all about his world. That’s pure gold, that is. So next time you see Frankie Johns, or the film’s director Joanna Crompton, shake them by the hand. This is a great little film that gently introduces people to a place most know little or nothing about. I can’t wait for the next instalment.
Birmingham won this one, in case you were wondering.