Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sunday Up Market -- Brick Lane

Handmade and vintage, that's all that's for sale at the Sunday Up market on Brick Lane. There are more Artistes (with a capital A) selling here than at Spitalfields, but prices are very reasonable and the food vendors are the best I've seen, so far, in any of the London markets.

The Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
E1 6QL

Portobello Market -- Notting Hill

It's said that people who like a lot of junk, can make their spaces look less cluttered by grouping their beloved things into collections. Of course, that means buying more junk. Portobello Market is a great place to do it. The vendors considerately group all their wares into collections for you. The junk doesn't come cheap, but hundreds of one-of-a-kind collectibles, antiques and vintage nick knacks fill the stalls. On Sundays, just as many shoppers fill the street.

First aid for collectors? Each one of this interesting set of cigarette cards illustrates a different bandaging technique

Portobello Road, W11
Nearby Tube Stops: Ladbroke Grove Station Westbourne Park Station Notting Hill Gate Station

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Will Tesco Take Over the World?

As long as I have other choices, I will never shift all of my grocery shopping to a supermarket. I love shopping at the open air markets too much, and I like to have small, local grocers all around me.

Even the butcher two doors down is not too offensive. He sells eggs for 99p a dozen, and he's got a lovely butchers' block in his shop that must be generations old. It's hollowed out in the centre from years of chopping and cleaning.

I would be really sad to see the Turkish grocer down the street close. He's less than a block away from me, and it's not only convenience that draws me there. His selection of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cheese is the best I've seen, so far, in London and his fresh fruit is better than Tesco, ripe and ready to eat, instead of hard and half formed. He seems to supply half the neighborhood with groceries, beer, etc, on credit, with nothing more than a slip of paper kept in the cash register. He's also been very kind to me. I'm an easy mark. Anyone who shows kindness has a customer for life.

Even though I wouldn't shop there exclusively, I was happy to discover a 24-hour Tesco within walking distance of my home. As grocery chains stand, Tesco is not my favorite, I prefer Sainsburys, but Tesco is close to me. It's cheaper than many stores. It has its place. There are times when it's nice to be able to drop by, straight off the train, late in the evening, when everything else is closed. Some things, like family-sized laundry detergent can't be bought in small shops.

When I got a Tesco club card, I didn't really pay too much attention to the points I accumulated until one of my cousins told me she paid for a weekend in Paris, Eurostar and hotel, with her Tesco points. She has two sons and probably spends thousands of pounds a year feeding them, but it made me think perhaps I should shop there more. I actually have increased my Tesco shopping a little. It would be nice to have a weekend break, paid for by Tesco. But is it really paid for by Tesco? What is the higher price?

I wounder how many people do this? Is Tesco going to do a WalMart and drive all the little businesses out of town, then raise their prices? Are we enabling these big organisations to create monopolies? I'm certainly not going to stop shopping at Tesco, but I'll try to think about my purchases their a little more closely. Am I buying something because I need it, or because it's a good price and it's double points week?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Maiden Lane -- Union Square

Diptyque. Yves Saint Laurent. Chanel. Do I need to say more?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lola -- North Beach

Lola of North Beach has a lovely collection of cards that far outshine Papyrus, for a lower price. Quirky, unusual cards, non-traditional cards and just plain nice ones, including some with letterset printing. Picking a card for any occasion a pleasure, instead of the frustrating search it often is, and the employees don't harass you if you spend a long time reading everything before making a small purchase. Lola also sells boxed stationary and small gifts. The best items are irreverent baby clothes with funny sayings like "I might barf."

415 Grant Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Yone - North Beach

It seems, these days, that everything is becoming commercialized, mass produced, and turned into plastic tat or pastiche crap. Things that used to be slightly arty have now been dumbed down and sold at Micheal's to every housewife in American who gets a crafty itch. It's happened with knitting, paper arts and certainly jewelry making. Shoppers can buy complete kits from craft chains, with all the materials to make complete necklaces, from the nylon string to the plastic beads to the base metal findings, these kits come with instructions on how to make a necklace exactly like the one on the package, no creativity required.

Not so at Yone. Everything about this store is authentic, from Herman the proprietor, to the beautiful stones, bits of coral and amber, hand carved beads, all types of cording, findings....I could go on forever. You can find things at Yone you thought were not made any more; perhaps they're not. Prices go from surprisingly cheap, to quite reasonable. The open hours are short, opening at noon and closing at 6:00, but if you want longer hours, you can always go and buy a bead kit at Micheals, instructions included.

478 Union St
San Francisco, CA 94133

Friday, March 02, 2007

Felicity's Fetiché / Foot Worship - Polk Gultch

The funny window displays and fantastic sign make Felicity's worth mentioning.

This stripper supply store is well stocked with fishnets, stage costumes, plus plenty of naughty nurse and French maid costumes for those who are not in the trade. Upstairs Foot Fetish is well stocked in lucite shoes sized for girls and trannies.

1214 Sutter St
San Francisco,
CA 94109-5517