You would be forgiven if your expectations of shopping in Rhayader were low. It certainly is quite a different experience to shopping in larger towns. We don’t have any of the big chains. The nearest thing to a supermarket is a Spar and the quite unique J & B Supermarket, known as the Mace. Even so we are often surprised and delighted at the range of merchandise that we can buy in the town, and the pleasure of wandering into friendly and helpful, usually owner-run shops.
One thing that visitors to almost any Welsh market town can expect is good meat. Rhayader has two excellent butchers, Bob the Butcher’s is known throughout mid-Wales and provides bulk meat for the catering trade as well as the domestic market. John the Mace sadly died in March, he was still working in his nineties and was at his post in his blue and white striped overalls days before he died, his son Nigel is Rhayader’s other excellent butcher and we hope that he will continue to run the store. The “Mace” is in an amazing building, previously the town’s cinema, situated near the waterfalls that give Rhayader it’s name (Rhayder Gwy – Waterfall on the Wye).
Next door to Bob the Butcher’s is the Gallery. It has a gift shop on the ground floor with an art gallery above. Both the range of gifts and particularly the art work is local and gifted, but they also offer really head turning fashion from a local designer in their boutique. It is very reasonably priced but very attractive and quite different. More unusual clothing is on offer at the tiny Wild Swan wholefood shop, further up West Street, which also squeezes in some unusual gifts as well as the food downstairs, with the clothes upstairs. It is a lovely family run business – often there are three generations at the counter.
Maggie can’t go into town without visiting the Air Ambulance charity shop on one corner of the cross roads. She will usually find some treasure which she then brings in triumph across the road to the Old Swan Tearooms. We always feel very much “at home” in the Old Swan, partly because it reminds us of our previous business, but more particularly because the atmosphere is so nice with locals and visitors chatting. “Pops” is Turkish, with an outstanding CV of catering experience across Britain. After running a business in Newtown he retired about three years ago but couldn’t stand being retired so he bought this business and commutes every day. We love to sit at the window table and watch the world go by, with the occasional chaos caused by mega-lorries trying to turn past our very inconveniently placed war memorial clock.
The town has an outdoor specialist shop for clothes, boots, etc. Clive Powel’s excellent specialist bike shop. Green grocers which include local and organic fruit and veg in their range, gift shops, an office supplies shop – now there’s a surprise! TV and electricals, plus the more usual hairdressers, banks and estate agents. We hope that you will visit Rhayader and be surprised by its retail offer.