Shopping in Brum: Liquor Store. Speak Easy

Tammy Facey has been out and about getting reacquainted with shopping in Birmingham.

I was finishing my degree in Manchester for the last few months and wasn’t aware of any changes in my home town Birmingham.

Walking through the familiar Great Western Arcade, however, I saw a new shop: Liquor Store Speak Easy. Thinking it was a new winery, I was about to walk past but as I approached I was pleasantly surprised. Wood, glass, and a lit up sign make up the Liquor Store as I see a shiny-new, what looks like clothes shop. Stepping over the threshold into the shop, it appears thoroughly modern with a scrubbed up Western cowboy meets Dutch design feel to it. With a small rack of men’s clothes to my right and a gorgeous leather sofa to my left I feel like I’m in a member’s only boutique.

I’m greeted by a man smiling behind a desk. Smiling back I take in the rest of the shop. It’s a long, wooden floored store, discreet and fine. It screams finery and quality but also with a relaxed edge, as a familiar – but I can’t put my finger on it – song fills the shop from the Mac on the desk. The shop assistant’s Chris, but I want the owner. Phil Hazell emerges from what seems to be the changing rooms because he is walking towards the woman seated on the plush leather sofa, with a pair of chino’s in his hand. Phil introduces himself as the owner and we talk shop.

Phil Hazell - Liquor StoreHaving been open since February this year Phil has a brand awareness that has helped build a clientele that “like what we do”. Phil also discussed the poignancy of the Liquor Store’s location: The Great Western Arcade. “Well it’s all about the heritage, we’re a brand interested in traditional British craftsmanship, but also next-generation quality clothing from around the globe. We specialise in denim and particular Swedish, Japanese, and American brands. The Great Western Arcade is known for being a niche in the city, and that’s what we’re about.” I agree, it is specialist. He continues passionately: “We sell Swedish Nudie denim, and Japanese Edwin. Even Levi’s produce their jeans in Japan because they have the best mills in the world.” Well I never. I’m impressed with his knowledge. He’s terribly modest though: “It’s my business to know”.

So Phil seems the knowledgeable owner, but what about the clothes on his own back? He answers without skipping a beat: “My sweatshirt is Racals, a Danish brand. Their tagline is ‘No History’ because they only started their business in 2008.” And he points at the ‘2008’ on his sweatshirt. His ‘denims’, as he likes to call them, are the Japanese brand Edwin, which are the ‘true denims’. Oh right, and his shoes are Redwing, which are, “The original boot company, which started in 1904. Their shoes are hand-stitched, and there were the first company to have a white sole.” Well that shut me up.

Liquor StoreLiquor Store, although Phil insists it is anchored in heritage, is very now. The décor is quietly impressive, there is an understated air of crafted nonchalance, and the garments are finely selected. Liquor Store champions quality items that show real craftsmanship and brand history. With an owner who creates his own mood with a soundtrack compiled on the Mac, I am won over. They are already on twitter, Facebook, and have an impressive website to boot, Liquor Store looks set to be a success.

Liquor Store. Speak Easy
30 Great Western Arcade,
B2 5HU