On our little whirlwind tour of the five floors by a lovely member of the management team, the design and layout stood out straight away as something new and thoughtful, and probably more expensive. We decided that it was more like Topshop in Oxford Circus than your average Primark store. The fixtures and fittings are all very impressive - no more the untidy piles of knickers merging into each other on those white shelves, now each size and colour is separated by little pink perspex boxes. There are video installations, huge photographs, themed backdrops, gold rails for special collections, and mannequins showing different looks. The 70 odd fitting rooms operate on a one-way system like the M&S ones do, and the tills are so numerous they reminded me of airport check-in desks. Because of the amount of space available, there's a dedicated beauty area for the first time in Cardiff, as well as a larger home section and a specific section for denim.
Primark have consistently provided me with vintage inspired buys over the years. A white 1930's style faux fur jacket, a '50s style sundress, a Victorian-looking corset top, and countless pairs of burlesque style big knickers. Sometimes with more budget stores like Primark, there's an assumption that it's all about disposable fashion. I have to say, I'm not into disposable fashion. If something fits with my sense of self, then I can buy things impulsively (as many full-skirted dresses as I can stuff in my basket!). But as for grabbing the latest trend off the rails and discarding it weeks or months later when the fashion magazines tell us it's passe, that's not me. I've got a Primark jumper that I bought over ten years ago. I've mended a seam on occasion, but it's still going and has washed and worn as well as much more expensive purchases. Quality varies within stores, not just between them, and the price tag doesn't always relate to the quality.
So, before everyone gets a bit over-excited at the new Primark store, I urge you to think carefully about your purchases, and make sure they're of sufficient style and quality to carry you through the years. Vintage styles were obviously strong enough looks to come back in fashion again, and are a safe bet when making considered purchases for your wardrobe. If in doubt, make a list before you enter the doors of this overwhelming shop, and stick to it! That's my plan of action anyway and I'll let you know if I managed to do it, or if I became thoroughly hypnotised by the shiny surfaces and left with patterned leggings, fringeing and neon eyeshadow.
Thanks to St Davids and Primark for the tour, and for our goody bags which generously contained a voucher, that I have mentally spent already!