Saturday, June 30, 2007

Heals - Tottenham Court Road

I have been coveting a silver pouffe at Heals for a while now, so as soon as I got my first full month's paycheck I ran to the Tottenham Court store. It was still there, under a pile of sheepskin rugs and assorted pillows and bean bag chairs. No price. I wandered around looking for a sales clerk to help me, but they were all otherwise occupied with yuppie & middle-class looking couples buying sets of furniture or expensive textiles. Finally, I managed to flag someone down. She begrudgingly looked the price up - £120. I had the cash, so I plonked down my debit card. She picked it up, and said. "We don't take electron," then turned her back on me. That was it. She didn't ask for another card, of which I have too many. She didn't ask for cash, nothing. I though "electron" was another name for debit cards. Now I know better. When I left, I couldn't help but notice the irony of the sign wishing me goodbye.

Perhaps it's not ironic, just honest.

The Heal's Building
196 Tottenham Court Road
London W1T 7LQ

020 7636 1666

Monday, June 25, 2007

Rugby at Colette? - Paris

Quintessentially American meets quintessentially French.

What's more American than Ralph Lauren? That would be Lauren's line for college co-eds, Rugby. Previously sold only in college towns and, of course, Manhattan, which could be argued is one giant college town, Rugby will soon be available at Colette, Paris's quintessentially French department store.

I'll be interested to see how the French put their own stamp on the line. A special edition polo has already been designed.

213 Rue Saint-Honore,
Paris, 75001
33(0)1 5535 3390

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Favela Shop - Shoreditch

If you need a bikini to go with your Brazilian, the obvious choice is a genuine Brazilian bathing suit from Favela in Shoreditch. Favela also sells sundresses, cute Brazilian-themed accessories and knickers.

12 Hoxton Street
London N1
020 3222 0042

Monday, June 18, 2007

What makes a good market? - Hackney & Walthamstow

Walthamstow market is the longest daily market in all of Britain & Europe. Started in 1885, it is often touted as a little piece of authentic East London. The reality doesn't really live up to the hype, though.

Walthamstow market has many good things: It's open every day. It's cheap. There are clean and accessible toilets. Shoppers are mostly locals.

So what's wrong with it? Perhaps it's best compare it side-by-side with a true little bit of authentic East London, Broadway Market in Hackney.

Both markets attract local shoppers


Broadway market

Both Have Authentic East End fare

Cockles and muscles at Walthamstow

An authentic jellied eel shop on Broadway market.

The difference in in the merchandise. Although there are 500 stalls at Walthamstow, much of the merchandise looks the same. There are no stalls filled with nice old junk. Instead, it's mostley plastic tat. The fruit and veg leave a lot to be desired.

The merchandise at Broadway market is a different story:

Vintage quilts

Artisan cakes

Homemade jams......

......and blocks of vintage and handmade clothing, old knick knacks and good old junk.

Walthamstow High Street, London E17

Broadway Market, London, E8

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dreamtime - Islington

Vintage clothes and accessories for the swing set, and anyone else who likes to collect jewelery and knick knacks from the 50s, and 60s. Cardigan sets and a few things from the 40s and 80s such as mint condition Home Pride men are a few of the treasures found at this hidden gem at the back of Camden Passage. It's a hidden gem because everything for sale is in excellent condition. The proprietor is a fellow collector, so if you have a special request, such as some vintage Bakelite jewelry shaped like cherries, she will call you when she comes across it.

6 Pierrepont Row
Camden Passage
Islington N1

07804 261082

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Premium Jeans

It seems Self Edge, the premium jeans store on Valencia has been mentioned in the The New York Times. If you want to read about the Japanese obsession with premium jeans and the lawsuit Levis is pursuing against some of the manufactureres, the article, Out Levi-ing Levi Straus is worth reading. Here's my original post on Self Edge in San Francisco.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Calandra Cheese - Arthur Avenue

In my constant search for authenticity, this cheese shop is a little gem. Started in 1952 by late patriarch Salvatore Calandra, the family still uses some of the original techniques to make their cheese. Yes, they actually make some of the cheese on the premises. Other hot sellers are imports from Italy, Spain and Greece, and local cheese, fresh from a farm in Pennsylvania. It's still run by the Calandra family.

2314 Arthur Ave.
Bronx, NY

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mags & Fags - Shoreditch

This magazine shop is worthy of entry just for the name.

90 Hoxton Street
London N1


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Paxton Gate - The Mission

If you think taxidermy is a dying art, go to Paxton Gate and take a class on how to stuff your own mouse. If that's a bit too hands-on, you can buy one dressed in a cute little outfit, in a shadow box. Paxton Gate also sells mounted bugs, animal skeletons fossils of all types, bell jars, pedestals and other decorative items for those whose taste leans towards the macabre.

824 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110 map

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Vending by Sony - Santa Rosa Mall

Sony calls them robotic stores instead of vending machines, but I think whoever thought that term up should be fired. It just brings attention to the fact that Sony is using the novelty of vending machines to avoid paying employees. What happens if a shopper accidentally pushes the wrong buttons? How do you return anything? Who do you ask questions to? What if the mp3 player you just bought is defective?

635 Healdsburg Ave
Santa Rosa, California, 95401