Keeping it local – a shopping trip in Dolgellau

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In the latest local shopping assignment, we send our roving reporter on a shopping trip to Dolgellau.

Dolgellau is one of those places which, having written about it from afar on behalf of clients with travel blogs, I’d longed to visit for many years. But not being the most confident of drivers and living an hour and a half away from this ancient market town, getting there had long been a challenge.

This weekend my luck was in. We were off to spend a night with friends who live in Machynlleth, so I asked the chauffeur husband if we could take a little detour on the way so that I could take a look around Dolgellau’s shops. The answer was yes, but I had to be quick as he was in a rush to get to Mach. Ugh – quick shopping trips are the worst sort, if you’re visiting a place you’ve never been to before and want to explore; but what else could I do? So I only spent 45 minutes in Dolgellau when I could so easily have stayed for two or three hours!

I’d barely walked from the car park to the town when I made my first stop. I spotted a really interesting-looking shop called Medi, one of those lovely little shops that I’m so fond of which sells ‘just gorgeous things, daahling’ as Patsy Stone might say. Stuffed to the rafters with absolutely beautiful handmade gifts and cards, Medi is exactly the sort of shop that I can easily lose myself in. But I was painfully conscious of the boys (the hubby and the dog) patiently waiting for me at the car park, so my browsing was much more hurried than I would have liked. Still, I managed to pick up not one but two birthday presents for my sister, so I was very happy about that. And I had a lovely long chat with the owner, which cut my remaining time in the town down quite significantly – oh well!

I left Medi reluctantly and carried on through Dolgellau’s beautiful old streets, admiring the gorgeous listed buildings and wishing I had more time. I stopped to take the occasional photograph – as much for my own future reference as for this article – but otherwise I was on a bit of a mission, as I knew there was one shop I absolutely must visit before my time was up.

One thing I knew from my research on the shops of Dolgellau – and something I’d spotted on the one or two occasions over the years when I’d been a passenger in a car passing through – was that Dolgellau has a lovely little craft shop. As you may remember from some of my previous posts, when I’m not writing I’m crafting, and so craft shops are my very favourite places to shop.

Dolgellau’s craft shop is called LouLouPurple, and although it’s small I was rather miraculously able to buy exactly what I needed. And considering what I needed were rubber stamps saying “Penblwydd Hapus” and “Nadolig Llawen”, and that the shop’s owner, Louise, had to sort through stock to find them for me (they weren’t out on display yet) it’s even more miraculous. But most miraculous of all was that, had I bought them on Amazon (something I had been coming to the conclusion that I would be forced to do) they would actually have cost me twice as much. This is one of those occasions where shopping locally beats the online giants hands down, and as I’ve learned throughout this journey, massive websites like Amazon and Ebay aren’t always the cheapest option.

All too soon it was time to go back to the car. My ‘goodwill account’ was running low on funds and I knew I’d get a frosty reception if I didn’t get my skates on. Reluctantly (and with a good deal of under-my-breath grumbling) I hurried past the interesting-looking shops and cafes to the waiting boys and we continued on our journey to Machynlleth. But I made myself a promise: I will definitely go back to Dolgellau one day soon, minus the impatient companions, and explore the place properly – perhaps on a market day, since Dolgellau is still very much a market town. Considering how lovely Dolgellau is – not to mention its even lovelier shops – it’s a day out I know I will enjoy a good deal.

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