Shopping Spraoi: Swords

Vibrant suburb’s offers range from smart children’s toys to exclusive Italian furniture

 
Swords is one of Dublin’s most vibrant suburbs. Full of young families, the town has a population of 50,000 and has shaken off any sleepy suburban preconceptions with its vibrant nightlife offering – at its heart is the Wright Venue, luring clubbers from all corners of the city. The town won a Purple Flag last year, an award for the quality of its evening and night-time economy.
Well connected by its proximity to the M50 and the M1, Dublin Airport and Bayer are both big local employers. All these factors have played a role in creating a shoppingscape that is dominated by multinational chains, with most housed in the town’s numerous shopping centres. 
 
But there are exceptions. One notable is JC Supermarket, an independent that opened its doors in 1977 on a greenfield site and has had to deal with a Lidl opening next door to it two years ago. Yet it continues to lure bargain-hunters with its cheap-thrill pricing, mainly bought as two- and three-pallet lots from wholesalers. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, managing director Michael Savage sent out 15,000 copies of the Proclamation to local homes and is running a “price rebellion” promotion through April, tongue firmly in cheek. What would the signatories have made of it all?
 
Less than €20
Cogs the Brain Shop opened in the St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre in 2013 and added a second shop in Pavilions Shopping Centre last November. Owner Conor Brady, from nearby Malahide, wanted to talk to his main customer base, women in their 30s with children. He sells toys for children from six months upwards . His sister, a schoolteacher, advises him on what to buy. He tests each toy’s appeal on nieces and nephews. These wooden stacking robots, ¤15.95, teach fine motor and visual thinking skills. Cogs The Brain Shop, The Pavilions, Swords; 089-2189932; cogsthebrainshop.ie
 
Less than €50 
The Brow Boutique is run by Elaine, Karen and  Deborah Wheeler. They opened The Brow Boutique in 2011 in the Jervis Shopping Centre after securing HD Brows, a grooming tool that middle sister Karen says works like a mini-facelift. The brows are tinted to suit skin tone. The treatment costs €35. The Swords branch opened in 2014. The Brow Boutique, The Pavilions, Swords, 01-8900477 thebrowboutique.ie
 
Less than €100
Change is a Danish franchise with five shops and one concession in Ireland. The lingerie and swim wear store stocks fashionable designs for the big of bust. While the average breast size in Ireland may be a C cup, here the mean cup size is an F or a G, says manager Frances Smyth. They sell supportive bikini tops and high-waisted bottoms that better flatter the form than a one-piece. This Siena balconette top, is ¤54.95. the matching briefs with a band to hide a muffin top, cost €29.95. The range is cheaper to buy instore than online and the shop is running a “buy one get one free” promotion until May 12th. Change, Lower Mall, Pavilions, Swords; 01-8956613; change.com/int
 
Less than €500
Galvin’s Hardware has been part of Swords main street since 1965 when father Peter operated his business out of the back yard. Then his family lived in the property that now houses the shop. It holds its own against multinational DIY brands by giving its customers informed advice . “We don’t sell for the sake of a sale,” says Thomas Galvin, one of three sons who now run the business. He is surprised by how knowledgeable his female clients are and is quite shocked by how little men seem to know. Sulphuric acid to unblock a drain costs ¤8.99 , while Irish designed post boxes made of cast-iron in Hungary cost ¤85 to ¤425. 
Peter Galvin Ltd, 74 Main Street, Swords; 01-8407444; galvinshardware.ie
 
More than €500 
Frank McGowan Furniture is a superstore of 50,000sq feet of bedding, furniture, flooring and curtains and blinds. Frank, now semi-retired, leaves the day-to-day running of the shop to his sons, Joe, Thomas and Francis, who recently opened a shop within the shop featuring Italian furniture brand Callegaris. Pictured is Cartesio, a 2.5m long dining table set on a powder-coated steel pedestal base. Available in three finishes, it costs €2,883. 
Frank MacGowan, Airside Retail Park, Swords; 01-8706100; frankmcgowan.com
 
Down time
The Empire Bar and Grill is another intrinsic part of the Swords nightlife. But it also serves the daytime community, opening daily at 10am to give locals their caffeine fix. On Fridays it offers a cronut special where customers can enjoy a tea or any coffee and a homemade cronut for €5. empirebars.ie
 
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