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“We have people who came when they were at school who now bring their grandchildren” – why 69A Intandane’s vintage culture still mesmerises today

Date: 24/11/2023

As of recent, the quirkier side of Liverpool has begun to show itself more than ever, in an ever-changing Merseyside city centre that embraces the cultivation of a newer, bolder and increasingly eclectic high-street shopping culture.

Areas like Bold Street contain, as the last decade has made clear to us, some of the most outgoing experiences in the North West, from chic fashion boutiques to independent cafes and foodie hot spots unconventionally thrown into a amalgamation of diverse attractions.

One place on Renshaw Street champions yet simultaneously challenges this compression of represented lifestyles, as 69A Intandane, an antique trader established in 1976, sells vintage clothing, furniture, books, jewellery, historic artefacts and so, so much more, all ranging in price from 50p to thousands of pounds.

It’s simply impossible to capture in pictures the endless stimulation you get walking around the relatively tiny dwelling.

Image by Rais Esat

Initially selling 20th century decorative objects from a space in the Stratford House Antique Market in Birmingham, their first shop found itself in Liverpool and opened in the beginning of 1977 at 81 Renshaw Street, above David Land’s Wine Merchants, in the former offices of the legendary Merseybeat Newspaper.

They become known as ’81A’, the number on the door people recognised. The tradition stuck, as they eventually moved to number 69A where they saw success in trading ‘punk’ fashions of the 50s and 60s, before settling down at their present home, 75 Renshaw Street. However, they decided to keep the iconic 69A name they were known for around the city.

We had a chat with the owner Trevor, age 69, a top hat-sporting, overly-observant and eccentric (in a good way, we promise) collector/proprietor of vintage goods and antiques, who’s been living in the current shop building since December of 1988.

Image by Rais Esat

Over his 47 years of experience, Trevor has seen many a demographic walk through his doors, and endearingly observes the most distinctive behaviours and actions, such as head movements or facial features. This is due to his self-diagnosis of ‘aphantasia’, the inability to visualise things from memory, which, in turn, has allowed him to connect with the world in peculiar ways during his time in the shop.

He said: “It’s related to trauma from what I understand. It’s an area that will become trendy and then become something that will be embarrassing to tell people about. But right now, it’s useful because otherwise, I can appear to ignore people.

“Someone could’ve been coming to the shop for 30 years and I will not recognise them by face, but I notice other things an awful lot more.

“So I don’t see it as a disability, it’s a different ability.”

Image by Rais Esat

Take us back to your very first memory of opening this store and the people that were coming through at that time. How would you compare that to nowadays?

“It’s incredibly different. I started from nothing in a market in Birmingham. You wouldn’t have been able walk down this street in the evening without risk of being attacked. That’s the difference it was.

“Liverpool’s a port city. Port cities have traditionally been rough. Although there’s an energy here that you don’t tend to get in many places, it’s just completely different. But city centres everywhere in the world now are wonderfully diverse in all sorts of ways. People who don’t want to be in a box just head for city centres because they can be themselves more.

“We just used to get local people, hairdressers at first because they tend to talk more. Now we get people from all over the world or all different parts of the UK because Liverpool is a tourist destination.” 

It’s become kind of a trend to come to these sorts of places, hasn’t it?

“Yeah, but we also cover a lot of different things because the trouble with trends is they come in and they come out. We just try do as much variety as possible in terms of pricing and [products] to keep everything covered because if ever anything becomes popular, then everyone does it.

Image by Rais Esat

As soon as you walk in this place, someone coming for the first time is bombarded by a million different things on the walls and shelves. What does this store actually represent and what is it trying to achieve for people that come through the door every day?

It’s an experience, I guess. We have two very strict rules, I tell people. One: don’t come before 1’o’clock, because we need time before that to get things sorted. Two: never feel that you need to buy anything.

“A lot of places you can get that vibe where people are worried if you’re going to buy anything. People will feel the need to make us happy by getting anything small. For us, when people are in, when they’re relaxed, it makes everyone else feel better, including us.

“Generally it’s more the experience, which is perhaps why we haven’t been hit as hard as some places in retail because it’s just something people enjoy doing. But we also cover so many different things from all over the world or periods of history.”

Image by Rais Esat

You talk a lot about the variety of the things you sell. Is there a type of item that you’re particularly passionate about or interested in when someone’s reaching to buy it?

“No, it varies. If there’s something I really like, I live upstairs so I’ll probably let it hang around there for a bit longer.

“I’ve got a lot of experience with Chinese stuff that I specialise in, to a degree. But beautiful things, things that can touch you in all sorts of ways, they come from all over the world.

“Human beings are exactly the same. Completely different traditions and arts, but they all interconnect. To actually say, ‘well, look that one’s great and the other ones aren’t’, you’re limiting yourself an awful lot, whether it’s literature or crafts or anything really.

You touched on your store not being hit as hard as other stores. So how did you overcome the challenge of Covid and the lockdowns?

“[The Covid lockdowns] were an opportunity because I’ve always had too many things to do. If the place is closed, I can actually sort a lot of things out including my own head. Whereas for other people, it would’ve been a nightmare because some people like to have company all the time.

Image by Rais Esat

“My approach to life is that there are easy things, and there are difficult things. Yes, Covid was difficult and for some people, incredibly difficult. A lot of people died, a lot of people found it challenging and a lot of people didn’t have enough control over their own life to be able to adapt and adjust easily.

“For me, I’m used to lots of change. When things are really tough, you’ve got no option but to be positive.

“Even people who put on a fake smile are healthier than people who don’t because the smile muscles increase serotonin.”

I noticed you’ve got your very own shop cat. Tell us about him!

Image by Rais Esat

Coco was playful one second then shy in another during our visit

“He only arrived about six months ago. He’s called Coco. We got him because unless you want to put all kinds of poison down, you’ve got rats. He’s very good at taking care of the place and he’s very popular. A lot of people come in just to see him.

“There was another one before him, Murdoch. He was here for about 16 years. He died last year unfortunately, but he had a very good time.

“We got him from the cat rescue and they didn’t want us to take him because he’d been attacked and they didn’t think he’d survive. But he made himself very comfortable and very famous here.”

Image courtesy of 69A Intandane

Murdoch the 69A Cat

In the face of advancing technology and more ‘trendy’ spots, what has the local customer support been like for this vintage place?

 “In a way, we’re an outlier but at the same time we’re more connected to people than other places are. The things we sell, we’ll often sell them before other places sell them. Usually you look at a vintage place and you’re looking at a [certain] age or background profile. We’ve got people from every background. From High Court judges to primary school kids.

“We have people who came here years ago when they were at school who now bring their grandchildren. People are creatures of habit. If they find somewhere they like, they just keep coming back anyway.

Image by Rais Esat

“Advertising and trying to pull people in, we just don’t do. People just tell other people and it works out okay that way.”

  • Find 69A Intandane at 75 Renshaw Street, L1 2SJ. Open every day 1pm-6pm
  • Images by Rais Esat and courtesy of 69A Intandane