New beginnings as [email protected] hits Cardiff city centre

Following the closure of its central flagship shop in St Mary Street, Cardiff, in January, 40-year-old family-owned business Beanfreaks has opened a new concept store in the city’s The Royal Arcade.

[email protected] has been designed to reflect the changing status of the store and represent a wellness space in the centre of the city. The main difference is quality of advice, explains Beanfreaks director Victoria Perks. “We have a fully qualified nutritionist in store every day, and we will be expanding on the services offered with the ability to coach customers using cutting-edge nutritional testing and old school knowledge. We also have plans to use our basement as a meeting and training room.”

Product choice is very much customer- and knowledge-led, she says. “We obviously use EPOS data, and if customers want it, and it fits with our ethos of quality with an environmentally friendly heart, then I’m happy to look into stocking it.” In addition to packaged food, VMS and body care, the store also now stocks refills – everything from deodorants to bodywash to multipurpose cleaner, from brands including Ecover, BioD, Alana, Faith in Nature, Salt of the Earth, Lavera and Fushi Wellbeing – and is still able to offer a veg box service.

There is an innovative Raw Beauty Bar which Perks says is a completely new concept to the UK. “Sustainable raw beauty is an area of great interest to customers; they are more knowledgeable about ingredients than ever before and want purer products. You only have to look at how Pinterest is full of ideas of how to create your own cosmetics and have fun with beauty care. We have sourced raw ingredients – organic herbs, clays, oils and waxes – for all manner of lotion and potions. It’s an idea that’s very close to my heart as we basically allow customers to be creative based on sound skincare science. It’s fun and we’re hoping more and more customers will embrace it.”

Describing the [email protected] premises, Perks says: “We have been very lucky, the space is beautiful, with large gallery windows looking out into the Victorian Arcade. We have a mixture of high and low ceilings which allow us to create different zones, which is quite an achievement for a small shop.”

Perks says she spent a lot of time planning the [email protected] space, deciding on a concept of modern country, mixing industrial elements with wooden crate-like shelving, repurposing and upcycling materials.

She is already planning the future of the store’s community activities. “I have a brain bursting with ideas, which are slowly coming together. I hope to have our meeting space finished by September so we can create a lovely safe space for like-minded friends to come together and enjoy being creative and for activities including meditation and wellbeing pamper parties.”

After a soft opening – with companies such as Viridian, Terranova, Pulsin, Green People and Natural Trade Brokers providing samples that filled goody bags to welcome customers to the new store – Perks is looking forward to having ‘the mother of all parties’ next year for staff, customers, reps and friends ‘who really have been rocks through this process’.

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