Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Reject Pot Shop - Camden Town

The name implies this shop is dirt cheap. It's not, but there are some good deals to be had on seconds of , Portmeirion stoneware and serving platters.

56 Chalk Farm Road,

Friday, July 27, 2007

Battersea Boot - Battersea

What's this line for?

The best boot in London. Ever.

But who would by those bears dressed up in Harley outfits? Bears? Leather Daddies? I suppose it shows there's something for everyone.

Speaking of useless items that other people may find strange, here's a sample of recent things I've bought here in the past two months. Keep in mind, I rarely pay over £2 for anything:

A light up globe from the 70s
An antique sampler
A glass casserole dish from 1953, commemorating the coronation
Beano, Beezer, & Dandy Annuals in near-unread condition
A set of blue pyrex from the 50s
Glass cannisters from the 1940s, made in Italy & the UK (50p each)
A shelf from the Tate
A crockpot
A "mod" lampshade from the 70s
Various books, knick knacks and soaps

It's well worth the 30p admission

Every Sunday at:

Battersea Technology College
Battersea Park Rd (A3205)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Forbidden Planet - Shaftsbury

Forbidden planets is a superstore for nerds with well-paying jobs. I use the term "nerd" in admiration, especially if they are paid enough to be able to shop here.

The basement houses comic books, graphic novels, sf fantasy, dvds, videos and games. Stock includes a fairly good range of new comics, and a few back issues, both American and UK issues. Unlike many comic book stores, they don't bag most of the comics. Books include trade paperbacks, graphic novels, as well as art books and sci-fi and Fantasy. From easy reading choices like Terry Pratchett to more literary, non-formulaic sci-fi and horror. A good selection of Manga includes Japanese-language selections.

The ground floor lures customers in with pop art, designer vinyl, limited distribution direct market toys and mass-market goods, such as Simpsons and Nightmare Before Christmas collectibles.

179 Shaftesbury Avenue
020 7420 3666

Hours: Mon to Weds and Fri to Sat 10.00am to 7.00pm, Thurs 10.00am to 8.00pm, Sun 12.00pm to 6.00pm

179 Shaftesbury Avenue
020 7420 3666

Monday, July 23, 2007

Labour and Wait - Shoreditch

The proprietors of Labour and Wait say that, whenever possible, they collect items that are made in the traditional way. Stepping into this shop just off Brick Lane is, indeed, like stepping back in time. Nice, solidly made household goods, like kettles, teapots, even tins of string reflect this commitment to quality.

18 Cheshire St
London, E2 6EH
020 77296253

Friday, July 20, 2007

Greenwich Market - Greenwich

This is a great market for arts and crafts. I'm not talking about potpourri cozies with dead flowers glue on them, this is the real meaning of the word craft: lovely hand-crafted things by artisans and craftsmen. The usual suspects, pottery, jewelry and knitted clothing sit side-by-side with turned wood bowls, blown glass and textiles.

Greenwich Town Centre
Thurs & Fri: Antiques & Collectables: 10.00am — 5.30pm
Sat & Sun: Arts & Crafts: 10.00am — 5.30pm

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Museum of Childhood - Bethnal Green

Toy shopfronts from the 1900s to the 1980s. Play shopping has trained children early for at least 100 years.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Joy - Greenwich Village

A nice little gift shop chain started by former knitwear designer Joy Bates. It's a bit like a low-rent Urban Outfitters, for shoppers a little older than Urban's demographic, but with less emphasis on clothes and more on gifts, a great place to buy a last-minute gift, or something for someone at the office that you don't know well. You can pretty much close your eyes and pick up anything in the shop and it's sure to be better than something grabbed at Woolies during your lunch hour.

9 Nelson Road
Greenwich, London
SE10 9LB
02082 937 979

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Neil's Yard Dairy - Borough Market, Covent Garden

Once at Fairway Market, Long Island, a women at the cheese counter told me that Neal's Yard Dairy did not make cheese, but simply distributed it. I didn't know what she was talking about. After all, if they don't make cheese, why are they called a dairy? I put it down to ignorance on my part and didn't think anything else of it until I visited Neil's Yard Dairy, at Borough Market.

At the shop, I found out that Neil's Yard used to make cheese, and still do, under another branch called Neil's Creamery. In addition to making cheese and yogurt, the cheesemaker bought matured cheeses and sold them. The owners of Neal's Yard noticed that these cheeses often tasted differently when they were sold from when they were bought. They split their cheesmaking business off and devoted themselves to collecting quality English cheeses and aging them to perfection. That's what the cheeselady at Fairway was talking about.

6 Park Street, Borough Market,
London SE1 9AB
(0)20 7645 3554
Mon-Fri 9am to 6pm
Sat 8am to 5pm

17 Shorts Gardens, Covent Garden,
London WC2H 9UP
Tel +44 (0)20 7240 5700
Mon-Thurs 11am to 6.30pm
Fri-Sat 10am to 6.30pm

Monday, July 16, 2007

Starting Early - Shopping for Children

Shopping is not the typical subject for a board book, but that's exactly what Judith Wilske and André Erlen have written about in a nice little piece of propaganda for children, My First Shopping Book, the why do you shop book for children.

Take a look at the ten golden rules, according to Wilske & Erlen:

1. Shopping is important!

2. Don't let anyone stop you; your desires are important!

3. Always take enough money with you!

4. Don't go to shops with unfriendly staff!

5. If you like something, buy it!

6. When in doubt, buy it anyway!

7. Never wear second-hand clothes. Buy them yourself!

8. Refuse any home-made gifts!

9. Buy things your friends can't afford!

10. Insist on being able to shop on Sundays too!

If I didn't think it was a joke before, the excessive use of exclamation points proves it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Borough Market - Southwark

The Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market at Embarcadero used to be one of my favorite Saturday morning activities when I lived in San Francisco. I cried the last time I went there, knowing I'd be moving soon and despairing of ever being able to shop from such variety of fresh organic fruit and veg ever again.

So, naturally, when I heard Borough Market compared to the Embarcadero Farmers' Market, I jumped on the bus.

Started in 1276, Borough Market is London's oldest food market. It's known as London's Mecca for foodies. While it's unfair to compare the fruit and veg with local produce in California, it certainly lives up to it's reputation in shear variety and quality. The food isn't cheap, but everything is fresh, artisan-quality and delicious.

Free range and organic eggs of all types.

Cheese has it's own wing. Local British cheese makers sell their wares alongside their European counterparts.

For those who like Turkish Delight, there's plenty to choose from.

For those who eat meat, organic ostrich is one of the choices.

Speaking of meat, there's a whole section devoted to pig.

And meat pies.

And don't forget the fruit and veg.

Borough High Street
Stoney Street and Winchester Walk
London, SE1 1TL

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Netto - Stamford Hill

Continuing with my series of weird budget grocery stores, I was drawn to Netto by the cute logo I've seen on bags all over town. Their motto is, "Why pay more when you can pay less?" It seems straightforward enough. Shoppers have to pay for their bags, but the prices on everything else are cheap, cheap, cheap.

The layout of the store is very strange, and doesn't seem to follow any logical order. Soap, next to canned fish, next to bread, next to lightbulbs, and so on.... This is fine for those of us who like to shop by going up and down each aisle, not so good, though, for those in a hurry who like to run straight to the item they came for, then leave.

and what's with the strange gate system at the entrance?

158 Clapton Common
Stamford Hill
London, E5 9AG

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Urban Nest - Noe Valley

French chic for household items and gifts. This shop is filled with lovely things like enamleware for children, clothes for babies that are not so cute that they're twee, yet not that "hip" urbane aesthetic that's beginning to get annoying. A great place to pick up lovely smelling candles and soaps and expensive dog gifts for those who have everything else.

3927 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Noe Knit -- Noe Valley

While not the cheapest option, Noe Knit has a nice selection of good quality yarn. They also have cute wearable samples knitted up so shoppers can actually see what the yarn looks like. Unlike many similar shops, the staff don't shout at you if you touch the merchandise, something that's very important if you want to know what the yarn feels like before you knit with it. They also offer a whole calender of knitting classes every month. Overall, it's a lovely neighborhood shop with helpful staff.

3957 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94114, USA

Sunday, July 01, 2007

F-art - Bethnal Green

Household objects are so artfully displayed, that you’d be tempted to call this shop an art gallery. In fact, owner and artist Steven Davids does just that. Contemporary art is displayed for sale and Davids regularly hosts gallery nights featuring local artists. Most of his shop, however, is filled with quirky, interesting objects reflecting popular culture of the late 20th century, easily accessible art, mass produced for a consumerist society. Product premiums and branded images from the 50s through the 80s appeal to a wide range of collectors, from those who like vintage Japanese toys and read Super Seven magazine, to those who trawl eBay. Since much of the stock is rare or vintage, it changes regularly. My favorites were: a vintage plastic Bibendum, the Michelin man, a large Japanese plastic statue of Astro Boy, a battery operated model of Godzilla, and a large mechanized monster toy from the 60s, complete with box.

24 Cheshire St.
Bethnal Green
London E2 6EH

020 7729 5411
Saturday 12:00 to 6:00pm
Sunday 10:00am to 5:00 pm
And by appointment