Arty, trendy, original and local – that’s Richmond Hill
Being “over the hill” is not the place anyone wants to find themselves – unless you’re in Port Elizabeth, that is. Richmond Hill has established itself as the coastal city’s “arty suburb”, where many emerging creatives retail their wares to an appreciative public.
“The Hill” is a great little shopping hub bounded by Stanley Street, Somerset Street, Campbell Street and Edward Street – although a few shops lie a little further afield.
The resurgence of the area began about a decade ago, with the conversion of old homes into trendy restaurants and shops. However, it’s over the past five years that the area has really taken off, with more eateries and new retail outlets opening for business.
According to shop owners in the precinct, things got moving in 2007 when Matt Repton, the original owner of Vovo Telo, opened his coffee shop in what was then primarily a residential area.
Following Matt, Camden gift shop was the first retail store to trade, with Fushin restaurant and Charlie Superstar Pizzeria in its wake.
Says Carryn Scheepers of Cupboard Love, a shop in the area, “I recall my brother staying above Fushin in an affordable flat, but once the block was converted into a trendy apartment block, the cost went right up.” A corner café that once stood below the apartments has since closed down.
“So much has changed in the past 10 years; older homes started attracting younger families and renewal of the area began gaining momentum,” says Carryn.
“I would liken it to the transformation of Melville, Johannesburg, or Observatory in Cape Town.”
The suburb is one of the city’s original residential developments, where Victorian cottages dating back to the late 1800s share street space with Old Edwardian structures – many featuring original fireplaces and chandeliers.
A variety of businesses trade on The Hill, offering tourists and locals an opportunity to support local talent and add to the growth of the Port Elizabeth economy.
In the area you will find the following stores:
Cupboard Love: gifts, clothing, décor and art sourced locally and in South Africa; House on the Hill: clothing; The House Planner: décor and textiles; On Your Bike: gym; Bella Rose: clothing and décor; Camden: gifts, clothing, décor; Hoiden: designer clothing, jewellery; Love That: clothing, gifts, décor; Alliance Francaise: language school; Duncan Stewart Fine Art: artist’s studio; Fusion Furniture: decor, furniture, gallery; Gallery Noko: art gallery; Landsdowne Framing: picture framing; Nesting Place: babies’ gear, kids’ gear, designer clothing; Super Cycles: bicycle repairs; For the Love of Wine: exclusive wine and art gallery; and a bowlful of funky eateries such as Flava, Two Olives, Le Med and Zorba’s.
The area really comes alive during the summer holidays – October to January – when holidaymakers arrive in the city to enjoy its beautiful beaches. July is also busy as it coincides with a music festival organised annually by Alliance Francaise.
Apart from these peak periods, business ticks over during the rest of the year as visitors choose to make a shopping outing to Richmond Hill, hoping to find an original gift or service, or just to meet up with friends over lunch.
Generally the retailers are open from 9am to 4pm daily, often remaining open longer during summer evenings.
Public reaction to Richmond Hill has been positive and encouraging, with most shoppers attracted by the charm of the area, the personal service, character of the old homes and the expectation of finding something unusual or original to buy.
Business owners on The Hill share a common goal: to support and promote all things local. Judging by our recent visit, they’re doing a pretty decent job.
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