There is something the businesses on Chapel Street, Norwood all seem to have in common and that is the philosophy of good old-fashioned service. It’s a quality that is rare in this fast paced digital era.
“I’m going back to the old school service, that’s what it’s about. Everything has become online and cold,” says Carolyn Foord owner of Stylelab – The Warehouse, the newest business on the block. But this is not to suggest that these businesses are behind the times, in fact quite the contrary.
Take Foord for instance. At a time when retail is feeling the pinch she has expanded her business by opening the warehouse-style showroom on Chapel Street and launching the Wild Child Stylelab online store, “I felt I had to, to keep up,” Foord says. In addition to Wild Child stores on King William Road, Hyde Park, the Parade, Norwood, and O’Connell Street, North Adelaide, Foord also owns the furniture store, Church Studios at Alberton. Stylelab – The Warehouse incorporates all of Foord’s creative passions under one roof.
“It’s furniture and fashion. I will style your home and your wardrobe. It’s a relaxed environment where people can come have a glass of wine, look at the whole collection on the big screen and order online,” explains Foord. The Warehouse is also the central distribution point and office for Wild Child, there is a photographic studio and they manage the online store from there.
Foord has been in Fashion for over 30 years, starting out with Toffs on King William Road, Hyde Park. She says: “I have been in this industry for so long and I have seen retail change so much. I’m trying to give people something ‘other’, giving them great service and making them feel welcome and comfortable.”
It’s a unique concept, in an impressive space – Foord converted what was an ugly old workshop into this stunning showroom. She says of the location: “I love it around here. It’s a cute little back lane.”
Rosa Barbaro was also attracted to the back lane aspect of Chapel Street when she relocated to Adelaide from Brisbane and set up the cafe Espresso Classico about a year ago. “In Brisbane and even in Sydney and Melbourne it’s really huge to be in the back streets whereas here it’s really quite unknown. It’s new territory,” she says. While the location might be edgy, at the same time Barbaro has gone back to basics. She describes her philosophy: “Good old fashioned service. We bring everything out to your table. We have gone back to basics here. We have kept it simple. We are not trying to be everything to everyone. We are just being true to ourselves, just good food and good coffee.”
With new businesses and residents moving into the area Chapel Street is evolving and becoming increasingly popular. Barbaro explains the charm: “It’s because it is really central, quite accessible (we have a huge car park next door) but we’re not in the thick of it, we’re not mainstream.”
Along side these new businesses are those that have been enjoying this central location for a long time, like the family owned Caleche Bridal House, which has been operating on Chapel Street since 1984. “At the time it was quite an industrial place. There was no one except for a few old people living in a few old houses. We are now seeing the street becoming increasingly pedestrian and housing friendly. I think more restaurants and cafes will pop up,” says Eric Foubert, one of the second generation Fouberts who now run the business.
Caleche Bridal House is located on the site that gives the street its name – so the tale goes. According to Foubert: “It’s situated on the site of the first chapel in Norwood so it’s fitting that a bridal shop sits where there used to be a chapel where weddings were once held.”
Foubert, like Foord and Barbaro, focuses on personalised service and his family’s 40 years in the business is testament to this philosophy. He says: “Customers get to experience personal attention. At the same time we are big enough so we can deliver a quality product at an affordable price. We offer a lot of choice without the pressure. Our reputation is based on the quality of the product and our service.”
They all agree that it would be great to see more businesses move into the street. Barbaro says: “It would be great to see more boutiques. I want to see edgier, different businesses.” Foord agrees: “It would be great to see more retail and some interesting and creative spaces.”
Rather than seeing it as competition they see it as adding to the landscape of the street. Foubert says: “We welcome that happening.” Barbaro adds: “We work together. I’m always in there [The Warehouse] and she [Foord] is always in here [Espresso Classico]. We try and feed off each other – who our customer is and who is walking down the street, how would they dress what would they want to eat.”
Wild Child Stylelab – Warehouse
18 Chapel Street
33 Chapel Street
Caleche Bridal House
43-45 Chapel Street