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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Troppo Gallery: Antique Oasis in Citystars Mall
Entering the Khan El Khalili section in Citystars’ Phase 1 is a nice shift from the hustle and bustle of the Cairo mall. While it lacks the atmosphere of the original Islamic Cairo souk with its ever-crowded narrow aisles, this shopping area has a special character of its own.
scent of incense mixed with the aroma from the nearby Arabian café’s shisha
greets shoppers as they walk on the street-like tiled floor to the wooden
medieval arches, numbered with street numbers and alley signs.
Among all the other shops that sell Egyptian traditional costumes, colourful fabrics and silver, one particular antique shop caught this reviewer’s eye. Troppo is a small-sized shop that can barely fit two people inside. Yet, it is stacked with little souvenirs; the floor is lined with little pyramids, the many shelves and tables are packed with oriental ornaments, and long chandeliers hang from the ceiling.
One of the many interesting shapes of wooden, ceramic or pottery statues is a package of Om Kolthoum’s miniature band statues (200LE) with the iconic singer’s figure dressed in her trademark clothing and black shades, and her famous band members behind her.
Other sculptures are Arabic, African or Pharaonic-themed. They vary in shapes and sizes from small lucky stones to African masks and Arabesque wooden wall decorations. Prices vary from just under 100LE to over 500LE.
Like most touristic shops, bargaining is the norm as prices are vastly overrated for the quality of the goods. Since there aren’t any fixed prices on the displayed items, it may depend on the seller’s mood and his estimation of how much you can pay. Luckily, Troppo offers some good bargain prices on items like handmade bead braces (between 10LE to 20LE) they even have little Tutankhamen mask as magnets that costs around 15LE each.
Troppo can be a great place to shop for souvenirs. If you’re not into antique shopping, browsing the displayed artefacts and taking the time to get into the traditional origins and symbolic meaning of each one can be a nice change from the everyday routine. There’s also a great chance that you’ll walk out with a token.
The common notion in the Egyptian market that the word ‘Imported’ stands for good quality has lead many business owners to neglect Egyptian-made products and even take pride in offering the costumer the imported ones. Now that almost everything we buy has been manufactured abroad, one can’t help but be impressed when finding quality products with the label ‘Made in Egypt’.
Among the local brands that are swimming against the tide, Inca & Co. offers a variety of furniture textiles and fabrics, which are designed by Egyptian artists and mostly manufactured in Egypt. Located on 26th of July Street next to Drinkies in Zamalek, the spacious shop well-organised and efficiently set-out. On the left, is a collection of fabrics is displayed on wall-mounted metal tubes, while other products, like cushions, are shelved on the other side. At the centre of the shop, a number of swatch books are displayed on a rectangular island.
One of the collections that can be found in the swatch books is ‘The Road to Marrakesh’, whose relatively light fabrics can be perfect for beach house furniture. From this collection, we liked a white fabric embroidered in black with a simple floral design (340LE per metre).
With a more complex design of flowers and birds, ‘Mexico Passion’ (460LE per metre) boasts a heavier material, durable for daily-use furniture. Not as heavy is the curtain-suitable ‘Winter Dust’ (325LE per metre), whose geometrical patterns come in various colours, including beige and light blue.
Besides fabrics, Inca & Co. has a versatile collection of products, including cushions (medium 325LE / Large 375LE), poufs (1150LE) and mattresses of different shapes and size. From the latter we liked the over-sized squared mattress (1980LE), which can comfortably take two persons, as well as a more firm mattress for a single person (890LE).
And like any Textile shop, none of the displayed items are available for instant purchasing; while the fabrics are received four days after placing the order, other products take to 10 days, which you can customise by choosing the fabric and adding tassels for an extra fee of 65LE.
In the textiles business, both durability and design are of great importance. And while Inca & Co. designs mainly cater to modern settings, the diverse collection promises good quality and taste – but at a price.