Shops that pass in the night
Despite all the justified worries about gentrification in Cuba St, it's still home to a bewildering, ever-changing collection of strange and unique shops. A case in point is this space, next to Café Istanbul, that has gone for years without a permanent tenant.
Until recently it was the "Fakery", a film set that fooled many passers by. It's now selling furniture from Thailand of varying degrees of authenticity (I doubt that the designs that incorporate brass clocks are entirely traditional). It's also a temporary space, and will only be selling Barron Imports' merchandise for a few weeks before emptying again. It might seem sad that this space can't settle down as some sort of permanent shop, but on the other hand the transient nature of the tenants adds to the variety and dynamism of the street.
Around the corner in Ghuznee St, the barber's shop (the one that also sold collectible toy cars) has left for Willis St Village. The shop windows are currently papered over in preparation for re-opening, and a sneak peek reveals an eclectic style of decor and range of products. There's a tiki-bar style kiosk made of bamboo, racks of clothes hangers, and a lot of what look like 1950s hot rod posters. Watch this space. Update: this has just opened, and is called Eyeball Kicks.
I've already mentioned the smallest bar in Wellington, and back in Cuba St is what must be the smallest shop in the city. It's literally just the width of the doorway, and can't be more than 5 metres deep.
This little hallway used to be the takeaway booth for Ban Dong (which sounds more like a lesbian separatist movement than a Malaysian restaurant) next door. Ban Dong first morphed into a weird "forest with restaurant", then was replaced for a time by an outpost of Auckland's Hard to Find Books before Hunters and Collectors moved in.
The Asian theme is now back, and if you can squeeze your way inside, it may very well satisfy all your needs for fairy lights, toy parrots, psychedelic cellphone faceplates and (ahem) "tasteful erotic" portraits of young Asian women. You have been warned.