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01 April 2010

Double AA in Waterford

Great retail experiences aren't too common in Ireland. We still lack a dedicated service culture, one that expresses the nobility of a retailer who truly understands their chosen calling.
But if you take a trip to Waterford, you can get a Double-AA retail experience, in two very different circumstances.
The first A is Altitude, Eamon and Julie Barrett's store up the hill in Ballybricken. Buying a bike and a pair of hiking boots here offered us two masterclasses: how to find the right pair of boots, and how to get advice to make sure you have gotten the right bike.
Smart, smartly-dressed, and very fit-looking staff were so on top of their game that the time we spent in the store was a pure joy, and the upshot, of course, was that we spent much more than we had intended to. The shop is an aesthete's delight, and we will be back for some of that cool gear. Altitude shows a retailer who has done The Edit: there is nothing but cool stuff here from the best, most serious brands, whether you are biking, hiking, surfing, skiing, or just want some cool threads to make you look fit.
The second Double-AA will take you down the road towards Passage East to Ardkeen Stores, the Jephson family's unique supermarket. Ardkeen is just what it says:it is a SUPERmarket, and one of the truly great retail experiences. Again, the Edit has been so rigorously carried out here by the owners that there is nothing but covetable Irish artisan brands for sale, and you want every one of them. Again, we spent far more than we intended, and we were as happy as sandboys.
So, a Double-AA rating for Waterford when it comes to retailing.