Fashion Features Food

FOR Cardiff – the gift card that supports independent businesses in the Welsh Capital

by Molly Wyatt

Come rain or shine, I am a sucker for shopping, window shopping or real shopping. So, when an opportunity arose to explore Cardiff’s arcades I was pretty darn keen – and the days I spent working so hard buying and eating things, were a real treat. Nearly 200 hundred years old, the beautifully designed arcades nestled in the high streets of Cardiff city centre, bring together a wealth of shops, restaurants, cafés and more – all unique from one another and bursting with character. These independent businesses that are striving under the roofs of such richly historic buildings, reflect the spirit and vision of all that Cardiff encompasses.

Now, there’s no denying that we feel a bit disappointed when our auntie buys a gift card for Christmas. What am I going to spend £30 on in WH Smith? Well kids, there’s a new gift card on the block that could really change your mind on this.

This gift card idea that I’m going to tell you about is the key to the hidden gems in this wonderful city.

So, what is this gift card I am talking about? Well, FOR gift cards are valid in a wide variety of shops, bars, cafes, restaurants and more in Cardiff – you can even use it at Cardiff Castle! The great thing about this card is that it encourages you to shop at independent, Cardiff based companies, supporting local businesses. Not only that, but you’re bound to discover somewhere that you will never have been before but will definitely be visiting again! In addition, the majority of the shops are based in the beautiful arcades that our city is blessed with, so come rain or shine, there’s no better place to be exploring!

Here’s my top 10 finds using the FOR Cardiff Gift Card:

1. Sobeys, Morgan Quarter

My new favourite vintage store in Cardiff (sorry Hobos!). I could have bought the entire store. From their authentic retro Disney sweaters, to their ‘wavy’ shirts, the clothes in there were right up my street. (And my boyfriends, who bought himself a pair of vintage Levi cords!). They also have a wonderful collection of unique jewellery which you definitely wouldn’t find in Accessorize.


2. Wally’s Deli & Kaffehaus, Morgan Quarter

I had been here before a few years back to the café (which is such good value for money) but had never really looked around the store itself. My oh my, what a delight. From cheeses, to pasta, luxury chocolates to Italian biscuits – it is any foodies dream! I treated myself to some amaretti biscuits and a big slab of cheese for my dad.


3. Fabulous Welshcakes , Castle Arcade

Keeping in theme of buying food for my family, I couldn’t resist buying them some Welsh delicacies. At 50p a cake, it’s safe to say that you get more than your value for your money at this super friendly shop. It’s all in the title – these Welsh cakes really are fabulous!

4. Illustrate, Morgan Quarter

This was by far one of my favourite finds of the whole arcade exploration. How had I never been here before?! At Illustrate they showcase beautiful pieces of art, all reflecting the beauty of nature and wildlife; their products are environmentally friendly using organic or recycled materials. From clothing, to artwork, from jewellery to (my favourite) their handcrafted phone cases. Supporting emerging artists as well as having an ethical ethos, Illustrate is a rarity amongst high street stores.

5. Coffee Barker, Castle Arcade

Okay, this might not have been a new discovery but when I discovered that this gift card is valid at one of my favourite coffee shops I was over the moon! Arguably showcasing one of the most beautiful interiors for a coffee shop in the city, the birth of Coffee Barker was inspired by the coffee house New York’s West Village and bistros of St Germain in Paris. Pretty wallpaper and suave sofas aside, Coffee Barker dishes up some of the scrummiest cakes and excellent coffees you’ll get in Cardiff. The perfect place to have a catch up with your friends or have a much-needed coffee break from all that studying!

6. Science Cream, Castle Arcade

Not too far from Coffee Barker, you will find (if you pay attention – the shop is teeny tiny) a smoke-filled shop with the servers dressed up in lab coats. No this isn’t something from Breaking Bad, this is a nitrogen ice cream parlour and my oh my is good. The whole experience is so much fun; choosing or designing your own ice cream wonder and then actually watching them make it (it’s so cool! – pun intended). Flavours change regularly, and they usually have 3 or 4 flavours at a time. Even better – they always have a vegan flavour which was perfect for me!

7. Simply V, Castle Arcade
This leads me on to Simply V. Again, a teeny tiny store but with a whole load of yummy vegan treats available to buy, many of which you can’t buy elsewhere. There’s usually freshly made vegan bakes available in store too

8. The Greazy Vegan, Castle Arcade
If you’re less about the healthy snacks and protein bars, and more about the lick your lips, greasy goodness then The Greazy Vegan is for you. Vegan or not, this eatery is a MUST during your time in Cardiff. From hot wings to burgers to doner kebabs, you won’t even notice (or care) that these dishes don’t have meat in. Cruelty free junk food? Sounds like the perfect hangover cure to me!

9. Cardiff Castle

It really would be a sin to not visit Cardiff Castle during your time in Cardiff and with this gift card you have no excuse! I would advise either going with your family when they visit, or going with your housemates after exams, or both! Whatever suits you, Cardiff Castle is a must for you to visit, and with guided tours you can make sure you soak in all the historical information. Plus it has a gift shop so…


10. Buffalo, Windsor Place

It may not be in the arcades but seeing as it is one of the prime places for a night out, AND they serve incredible food, I had to put it on here. After a hards day shopping in the arcade, what better way to splash the rest of my gift card cash on their delectable cocktails (R&B is my favourite) and dance the night away!

Want to explore the Arcades for yourself? Take a peep at the City of Arcades website:

To snap up a FOR Cardiff Gift Card, head to