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Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied

Just Like Papa brings together the best outdoor gear in an off-beat style that appeals to outdoor people. Owners Thomas Ferreira and Davide Locatelli-Rossi tell us about opening their innovative space on Harrington Street in Cape Town’s East City.

How did your business start?

The idea came up after a long trip to Patagonia where the gear that we used and put to the test had failed. After a few drinks around the campfire and talking to friends, we realised there might just be a need for great outdoor gear.

Why did you choose this area to set up shop?

We wanted a space that didn’t restrict us, a retail shop that also had a work and car shop. Davide stumbled on a 1956 bank location in the East City and we knew we had hit gold.

How did you find your premises?

After we’d combed Bree Street and the new up and coming parts of Cape Town, we found these areas too restrictive and unaffordable. We’d always loved the SAPS buildings behind Woodheads, so we ventured to the East City. We saw a to let sign, walked into The Bank and met Steven Harris, who has been passionately envisioning the growth of Harrington for decades. He took us on a tour of his premises. Next thing we knew we were sitting at his large desk and Just Like Papa history was made.

Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?

You have to walk in to understand. It’s not a retail space, it’s an experiential space, a space we can mould into whatever we want, grow and experiment with new projects.

Who are your neighbours?

The East City has exploded since we moved in. We have been joined by Manuela Gray and Sins of Style tattoo studios and East City Cycles. Wulfchiptegnik shares our workshop. Lekker Vegan, Bootleggers and Kamili Coffee are across the road, old-school favourites New York Bagels and SurfaRosa welcomed us into their neighbourhood. Barnet Fair and Nude Foods tie the street together. Up the road, Lefties and Raptor Room feed us on late nights, not to mention Dias Tavern.

What are the rental prices like in this area?

Too high if you ask me, and too low if you ask the landlord!

How many people visit your business each day?

Our space is a destination store first and foremost, but it really varies. We have large events and also quiet days. Friends come over for a beer, play a game of chess or get their knives sharpened, so we are never lonely.

Do you have any expansion plans?

Definitely, we expand every day, from our online store to our ambition to open in Joburg.

Do you operate online as well?

Our online store launched in April.

What’s your most popular item?

Our axes – we struggle to keep up with demand. Drip Drop is also a great seller: it’s a professional grade hydration system which is great for any type of training, and also works miracles after a long night of meetings around the fire discussing what is next for Just Like Papa.

For more information on Just Like Papa, phone 021 286 4374 or visit the website.

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