Situated in an impressive building on Park Street, Bristol Guild of Applied Art is a much-loved Bristol shop selling furniture, kitchenware, toys, cards, art and much more.
Situated in an impressive triple-fronted building on Park Street, Bristol Guild of Applied Art is something of a city institution.
Yet how many of us really know what this distinctive emporium has to offer over its three floors and rabbit warrens of corridors and rooms?
"Most people know the Bristol Guild," says the managing director, Mike Canning, "but not everybody knows what the Bristol Guild is.
"For example, they may come here for their Christmas cards or a unique gift perhaps, but don't know that there's a gallery, a café or a furniture department.
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"So although we have been here for a long, long time, not everybody knows what we have to offer."
Things of beauty, is essentially what the Guild offers, whether that be kitchenware, toys, jewellery or framed prints.
The idea of the Bristol Guild was born on February 10, 1908, at a meeting at the Ladies Club in Clifton.
The proposal was that an association or club, called the Bristol Guild of Applied Arts, would promote the learning of various handicrafts and also be a means of selling members' work.
Handicrafts were important, the chairman said, because they affected the happiness and usefulness of people's lives.
While much has changed in this thriving, ever-evolving store, the central aim, to sell craftwork that makes people happy, still remains.
"Often what I say to new staff is that nobody needs anything that we sell," smiles Mike. "What I'm really saying is that we work hard to find the products that we think people want, rather than what people need. And people want local, quality, craft, design-led, quirky products."
The Bristol Guild is an iconic presence in Park Street and its impressive window displays are always an eye-catching part of the local scenery.
Mike tells me: "The original window would have looked in on a stained glass studio at work before it moved on to representing the work of local people that worked in craft."
In 1940, Park Street was devastated during the Blitz, but although buildings on either side were demolished, the Guild survived more or less unscathed.
By 1965, space was getting very tight; the Guild was bursting at the seams and ready for substantial expansion. During the next decade, the company took over three adjacent premises to create the store it is today.
Inside is bright and inviting. Turn to your left and you're in the kitchenware department, which boasts a wide range of modern and traditional equipment, contemporary cookware, innovative gadgets and attractive utensils all created by the most popular international designers.
On the other side of the ground floor, there's an area devoted to Bristol, with products including Banksy prints and cards, Bristol Blue Glass, plus tea towels, coasters and other homeware featuring designs from popular Bristol artist Emmeline Simpson.
Moving through to the back of the store, there's the beautiful toy department. Packed full of timeless toys, unique baby gifts, and fun games, you'll be tempted to buy something in this treasure trove whether you have a child or not!
And with Mother's Day approaching, there are endless gift options throughout the store as well as a nice collection of cards back at the Guild entrance.
Upstairs, there's a tasteful choice of fine quality prints, photographs, frames and crafts from local and international artists, while a smaller side room has an elegant array of jewellery on display, with simple gold and silver pieces as well as more colourful beaded work.
There is also a wide selection of quality leather products, hand-made scarves, umbrellas, hats and gloves as well as the ever-popular furniture department offering contemporary classics.
The food hall boasts attractively presented, quality confectionery, and leads on to the newly refurbished café.
Mike says: "We finished redeveloping the café in the past year. It has been significantly updated and we now have an outdoor garden seating area, which you wouldn't know existed if you didn't come and see it for yourself."
Finally, up some winding stairs to the top floor, is the art gallery.
The Guild Gallery has a new show every month featuring artists – often local but sometimes international – working in all mediums: ceramics, oils, textiles, photography, woodcarving, sculpture and mixed media.
There is no admission charge and at least one of the exhibiting artists is usually on hand to welcome browsers.
The Guild has a very mixed clientele, from Bristol university students to the older, loyal customers who have been shopping here for 30-plus years.
"Our mixed clientele makes us a bit unusual," says Mike, "so when I'm thinking of what to stock, I always think 'would this appeal to my daughter, would it appeal to somebody my age, and would it appeal to my mother?'
"I think it's fair to describe the Guild, in Bristol terms, as an institution," he continues. "We have pedigree and history, and over the years the Guild has often been the first to do things. For example, we were the first in the Fifties to do Scandinavian furniture.
"What people want from the Guild is for us to stay the same, yet change, and I believe that's what we've tried, and succeeded, to do."
Bristol Guild of Applied Art, 68-70 Park Street, Bristol. Visit www.bristolguild.co.uk.