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The Eye Café, Art Gallery and Music Store in Cape Town
The CBD’s new one-stop shop for vinyl, vintage collectibles, contemporary art and coffee
Hein Coetzee and Wentzel van der Gryp, the founders of new shop and café The Eye, have an ear for good music, a taste for great coffee, a feel for quirky collectibles and an eye for arresting art, and together, they have sculpted a space that tickles the senses of anyone who’s even vaguely stirred by these spheres.
Both business partners lay claim to their own record labels (Roastin’ Records and Angry Africa Records); Wentzel spent four full years mastering the art of coffee-making at Deluxe Coffeeworks; and Hein is an avid artist and collector, so the city centre store is, at its heart, a pooling of their various strengths and passions.
“It’s our ideas, skills and creativity put together,” explains Hein. “We just wanted to be surrounded by the things we love, and this was the way to do it.”
The shop stretches across two storeys in an old Art Deco building on the corner of Loop Street, and every inch of it is packed with covetable treasures. On the bottom floor, a sleek wooden-topped coffee bar stretches out across one side of the room (all cuppas are Deluxe Coffeeworks, of course), and grey walls serve as a canvas for a curated display of local artworks, all of which are for sale. Though the venue features an exhibition by one contemporary South African creative each month, it also stocks a few pieces by other prominent artists, like Cecil Skotnes, Pierneef and Lorcan White, so it’s a spot worth putting on your radar if you’re a serious collector.
Hints of The Eye’s dedication to music are also sprinkled throughout the downstairs area. Most notably, there’s a collection of vintage Höfner, Vox and Eko guitars for those looking to own a real beauty of a six-string and just next to where they’re hung up sits a stage area that plays host to the occasional live band or DJ.
Though, upstairs is where you’ll find the real musical jackpot, with tables upon tables and shelves upon shelves of cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, band memorabilia and vinyl records. In terms of the latter, although you will find pressed versions of anything from Bruce Springsteen to Buddy Holly, the emphasis is firmly on South African music and the shop even stocks some of the very last copies of old Shifty Records releases (Shifty was a controversial local record label from the 80s that was intensely anti-apartheid).
To complete the store’s unusual offering, the second floor, which is decidedly more cluttered than the first, is also home to several rails of vintage ladies’ clothing and fashion accessories and a legion of pop culture collectibles. The mix of retro toys and comic-y bits and bobs on offer is endless and buyers will come across action figures, tin robots, old-school clocks, Polaroid cameras, Bitterkomix comic books, typewriters, troll dolls, Star Wars Lego sets, Tintin paraphernalia and much more.
Needless to say, if you have the time, you could easily get lost within this over-flowing venue, and whether it’s your eyes, your ears or your taste buds you’re looking to treat, you’ll find a source of delight for all at this Cape Town treasure trove.
Tip: One night a week, The Eye stays open late for an event of some sorts, be it the launch of a new art exhibition, a screening of a music documentary or a gig by a local band. Just keep an ‘eye’ on the venue’s Facebook page for details on what’s happening when.
The Bill: Coffee is relatively affordable and goes for between R14 and R18; if you’re in the market for art, you could pick up a piece for anything from R500 to R80,000; vinyl records average around R250 but rare collector’s copies can cost up to R5000; the vintage guitars are priced from R1500 to R20,000; and the collectibles sit between R50 and R10,000 – in other words, there’s something for everyone.
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 7am – 7pm; Saturday – Sunday: 10am – 4pm
44a Bloem Street (corner of Loop Street) | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)83 494 4814
Check out this awesome new highly-curated record store in Obs called The Other Records.
A fan of making melodies? Take a look at our overview of places to buy musical instruments in Cape Town.
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