It’s a pity I’m leaving so soon because I’ve just discovered Brum’s thriving warehouse district. Behind the shiny new Millenium Point and Masshouse developments stands the real gem: the as yet un-regenerated Eastside dotted with dilapidated buildings, cheap cafes, dodgy pubs and bargain basement warehouses.
My colleague took me to Latif’s one lunch hour. Just a five minute walk from Aston University, M. Latif and Sons proudly proclaims to be the “Peoples Warehouse.” For Canadian readers, it is Honest Ed’s meets Bargain Harold’s – everything looks a bit naff, but sometimes you stumble upon a treasure.
“We send all the international students here to pick up everything they need to furnish their apartments,” she said excitedly. And indeed, what student could go without a £0.30 pint glass?
In fact everything from frying pans, to bedding is on offer here, for prices not found anywhere near the high street.
My colleague was on the hunt for a duvet cover for her caravan in France, but she didn’t find what she wanted. And I have enough tat to cart back to Toronto with me, so I resisted the pretty pink slippers (£4.99) and polka dot teapots (£3.99) crying out for a better home.
At these prices, Latif’s has something for every thriftygirl or boy. But get there quick, because Birmingham City Council has pledged to “transform, revitalise and regenerate the neglected areas of Eastside, Digbeth and Deritend.” With nearly £6 billion in investment, it’s the largest urban regeneration projectin the city. Somehow I doubt the “people’s warehouse” and its motley crew of shoppers from some of the poorest pockets of the city, factor into the new vision for Eastside.