Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fry's - Palo Alto

Fry's has long been known as a mega-store for geeks. Every electronic device imaginable is available here, generally cheaper than anywhere else. If cheap isn't cheap enough, Fry's also sell reconditioned electronics and kitchen appliances.

If you're still not convinced this is geek heaven, take a look at the large Anime porn section.

340 Portage Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Monday, August 27, 2007

Double Punch - North Beach

Most of the things sold at Double Punch can be found at Giant Robot, Kid Robot and Super 7, but the prices at Double Punch seem a little better.

1821 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94133-2809

Friday, August 24, 2007

IKEA - Emeryville

After years of clever marketing, and now, the developments of Flatpack homes, IKEA has turned more into a lifestyle than a furniture retailer. IKEA has mastered the art of aspirational shopping. If you buy one of their MDF shelf units, you too could live the contemporary modern lifestyle showcased in the sample apartments set up in the giant shops, complete with the square footage. They're sort of like showhomes without ceilings, except there are two problems:

1) The sample apartments don't have ceilings or doors, so they look much bigger than your own home of comparable square footage.

2) The fake apartments are built around the standard-sized IKEA furniture, creating a custom built-in look.

Unfortunately, most houses don't come in IKEA standard sizes. Perhaps the flat pack houses do?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

House of Foam - downtown Palo Alto

Specialization usually makes good shopping, if you're interested in whatever it is the shop is selling. In this case, it's foam. House of Foam, as the name indicates, sells all types of foam, from egg crate sound insulation, to padding for furniture, to pillow stuffing, to foam mattresses. It sure beats visiting every Home Depot and fabric store in the area, looking for the one specific type of foam you need. The staff are friendly, with the type of specialist knowledge you'd expect.

150 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fresh from Debenhams - Brick Lane

Sometimes the best parts of a market are the guerrilla booths that pop up selling everything from handmade earrings, car boot closet clearings, and this vendor specializing in new housewares, "fresh from Debenhams."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Shops Without Names - Camden Passage

This little shop along Camden Passage, in Islington, stocks a nice selection of ceramics from the 60s and 70s. When my shopping companion said, "Look, those pieces are so Johnathon Adler," the proprietor responded:

"You Americans and your Johnathon Adler. Sod Johnathon Adler! Who do you think he copied from?"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Magma - Clerkenwell

Magma stocks magazines and books on art, photography and design. Art is subjective here. One book that caught my eye focused on people standing in line, another showed a series of empty plates with vestiges of the meal that was just on them. The strength of the shop is the magazine and journal selection mainstream favorites share the shelves with a nice selection of indie publications.

117-119 Clerkenwell Road
London, EC1R 5B

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Kings Mall - Hammersmith

Here's another example of a housing estate built on top of a mall. It's not great, but there's a good selection of medium to low-end shopping, including the largest Primark I've been in yet. Mothercre, Iceland, Superdrug, New Look, Evans and all the usual suspects are represented. Surprisingly, Habitat has a small shop in the mall too.

Here's the view from the top floor of Primark. Convenient.

King Street
W6 9HW

Friday, August 10, 2007

Battersea Boot - Battersea

Some displays at the boot are better than others.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Brunswick Centre - Bloomsbury

On the surface, Brunswick Centre looks nice. Filled with upmarket chains including Waitrose, Oasis, Hobbs, Boots and Baby Gap, the shopping is certainly better than what is usually offered on housing estates.

It hasn't always been this way. Brunswick was one of those modernist experiments architects were fond of in the 1960s. Patrick Hodgkinson designed it as a private development, part shopping centre, part cosmopolitan housing, but no one would buy the flats. They were small, many considered the vast concrete structures ugly, and the money ran out before the buildings were painted. The developers kept the shopping centre and sold the residential part of the building to Camden Council to use as council housing. Under council management, the building mouldered. So did the shopping centre.

In 2002 renovation started. It took four years to renovate and fill the abandoned shops to current standard.

I have to wonder, though, is it just putting makeup on a pig?

The Brunswick

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

R.D. Franks - Westminster

London has everything, if you know where to look. R.D. Franks is a prime example. Almost every magazine relating to fashion is sold here, from mainstream offerings like Vogue to the more obscure, such as Street, Fruits and Fantastic Man. There's also a good collection of pattern making and textile books and publications by Gap press. Surprisingly, though, Japanese look books are not sold here.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Somerfield - Battersea

This giant housing estate at the back end of Battersea has two pubs and a huge Somerfield on the grounds. Somerfield is the only grocery store in London that I've noticed employees following customers around (myself included) to make sure they don't shoplift.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Wink - Noe Valley

Wink sells, cute eclectic gifts for all occasions, or even for yourself. Shelves are artfully arranged with toys for the person who has everything, from cloth dolls fashioned to look like they are made out of pieces of poop, to Gamma Go clothes and nick knacks, to nice design-oriented household items and gifts for babies, both the human and the four-legged variety. The cards are beautiful, and stocked with a wide range of interesting occasions. The staff are friendly.

4107 24th St
San Francisco
CA 94114

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Teitel Brothers - Arthur Avenue

An authentic Italian-American market that's been run by the same family for the past 100 years. To relieve the cramped space in the always crowded shop, displays of hardy staples like olive oil, cheese, and canned tomatoes spill out onto the sidewalk.

2349 Arthur Avenue,
Bronx, New York


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tiger - Hammersmith

Tiger is stocked with random knick knacks, toiletries and kitchenware that could be found at Big Lots, but they seem nicer here, probably because of the quirky Scandinavian merchandising. Just like IKEA, shoppers wend their way through a maze of beautifully displayed wares. Instead of furniture, the products are note pads, kitchen towels, small toys and household items sold at bargain basement prices.

41-42 Kings Mall, King Street
Hammersmith, London W6