A Third-generation family business in Newton Park has been a crafter’s paradise for more than 40 years. Owner Kyriacos “Kyri” Demetriades calls Little Angel “Africa’s most interesting store”, where you need at least an hour to browse through all the crafting items, gifts, accessories, decor and furniture items displayed in the colourful store.
However, it is not the type of store where you would find “the cheap and nasty” items that are sold by some of his competitors, Demetriades jokes.
An institution in Port Elizabeth, Little Angel is the store of choice when looking for anything from a crochet hook to an ottoman.
In fact, Kyri said people travelled from across the countryside and other cities for the unique selection of goods sold at the store.
The family regularly travels overseas to find unique items for the store, mostly in China and Thailand, as well as imports many of the yarns, says Agisilaos “Agi” Demetriades, who is the latest addition to the family business.
Breathing some young life into the business, Agi first dabbled in tertiary studies and the restaurant industry for a few years before joining the family business in 2011.
“I worked here as a child but only really started to enjoy and got to know the business when I began working here full-time,” he said.
Agi said it was important to keep up with crafting trends.
“At the moment knitting and crocheting are very big. We have a variety of knitting yarns and import most of our yarns to keep a big variety,” Kyri said.
The store was established in 1974 by Kyri’s mother and Agi’s grandmother, Efthimia, as a baby shop but later evolved to also sell crafting items for knitting and embroidery as well as table linen.
“It was always my mother’s dream to have a haberdashery as she worked in one as a little girl while growing up in Cyprus,” Kyri said.
Kyri, a qualified quantity surveyor and former Building Finance lecturer in the Architecture Department at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), took over the store in 1994 from his late mother, who still stayed on working in the shop as much as she could but had to hand over the reigns to her son due to health reasons.
“Eventually I got very involved with the business. You can say it grew on me like bacteria,” Kyri said.
In 2001 Little Angel moved premises from the Pick n Pay Centre in Fourth Avenue, Newton Park, to the Newton Park Spar premises just off Third Avenue, Newton Park, and has since expanded to include Little Angel Decor and a World of Wool section in the store, along with a wide selection of gifts and accessories.
“It is quite sad that small, family owned businesses are dying in South Africa.
“Many shopping centres do not even want to rent out space to non-franchise businesses. We are thinking of opening another branch of the shop, but it would offer a smaller range of products,” Kyri said.
His wife and Agi’s mother, Kia, is an artist by trade and some of her artwork is sold in the store. She also helps out with the merchandising side of the business.
Asked if they sometimes bumped heads in the close family business, Kyri light-heartedly responded saying: “Let’s just say we have our differences of opinions.”
– Cindy Preller