Kentish Town is not necessarily a place you might expect to tick off the bulk of your Xmas shopping. But with a bit of thought you can keep it local by using our guide below. If we’ve missed a favourite, simply add it at the bottom – it ain’t personal, we simply just can’t cover everywhere.
Our seasonal shopping coverage continues on Friday with a look at the more upscale outlets in St Pancras – and next week we’ll be hitting Camden for a fully rounded picture of local retail hotspots.
1. Start With…A Tree
We’re enjoying the seasonal display of trees trussed up and strewn alongside every available bit of wall and canopy by Bean About Town. They start at £25, according to the gruff man who runs it; alternatively, you could try haggling for a bargain on Queen’s Crescent (corner of Bassett Street) or everyone’s favourite local garden centre Boma, where they’re laid out stylishly and will probably set you back a little more (from £34, to be precise.) Boma Garden Centre, 53 Islip Street.
2. Flowers and Wreaths? Try Jayne’s
This shop must get the highest footfall of almost anywhere in NW5. Right next to the fruit and veg bloke alongside the station, Jayne’s is a welcome splash of colour at the best of times and, at Xmas, a veritable feast for the old mince pies. Friendly too, so deck that hall out in style (and the front door, if you do that kind of thing). 260 Kentish Town Road.
3. Books…at Owl
You can find something for every generation at Owl, and on a visit last weekend we were reminded of how pleasant it is browsing the first editions, hardbacks and tables of beautifully laid out paperbacks and reissues. There are stacks of books on local history too, so why not buy Wednesday Picture fans the Streets of Kentish Town, or The Fields Beneath? Goes without saying that there are quality greetings cards and a cosy children’s section too. 207-209 Kentish Town Road.
4. Chic interiors… at Future & Found
Future & Found opened earlier this year on Fortess Road and offers ‘beautiful things for your home’. Inevitably they are going Xmas gift crazy, with a selection of stocking fillers under £10 (like a cute wooden microphone ruler), and gifts ‘under £25′ (such as a concrete tube vase – tres chic) and ‘under £50′ categories. Very practical, and such a nice environment to swoosh about in – perhaps fuelled by some seasonal ice cream from next door Ruby’s. 116a Fortess Road.
5. Gifty bits and bobs… at Soho Hip
Soho Hip relocated to Tufnell Park last year from Norwich, and its owner Debra has quickly become a firm fixture in the community. She sells children’s toys, games, Tatty Devine jewellery and silver jewellery made with real flowers by Shrieking Violet. Plus homewares, luxury candles, cards and gift wrap. Even better, she’s great for a natter – and is a regular fixture at our Kentishtowner get-togethers. 148 Fortess Road.
6. Cool kids’ stuff… at Eeeny Meeny Kids
Tufnell Park really is the place to go for local gifts. Owner and all-her-life Kentishtowner Clare Jay opened up this kid’s shop just a few months ago and promises a ‘silly, sensible, cool, quirky, fantastic, funny, pretty and playful children’s boutique for kids aged 0-10yrs.’ Wow. Even better, says Clare, they try to stock products from ethically minded companies and small local producers: timeless classic toys, great locally-produced artwork, and excellent quality garments without the silly pricetags.’ 8 Campdale Road (OK, so this is just into N7).
7. A big old Turkey… at Harry’s
What Christmas is complete without a gut-busting roast? Thankfully Harry’s Fine Foods has it covered, offering an excellent selection of free range and organic meat to go with your taters and stuffing. Turkeys (£10.95/k), capons (£9.95/k), goose (£13.95/k) and duck (£7.95/k) are all worth a gander; or, if you’re bit more red-blooded, Harry tells us the organic rib of beef (£17.95) is proving extremely popular. Bring it on. 258 Kentish Town Road.
8. Watches and Jewellery… at Stanley James
Smartening up the lower Kentish Town Road – along with other newcomers in 2012 like Doppio and Los Pollos – Stanley James stocks various watch brands such as Forelli, Kenneth Cole, Ntinga, Clogau and Ice. There’s also a pawn-broking service where, promises owner Paul, ‘we will beat any of our competitors on price.’ He’s very keen to engage with the local community and so Kentishtowner readers get one month’s interest free on all loans in December. Might help out over the stretched Xmas period, eh? 159 Kentish Town Road.
9. Gorgeous rugs and vintage carpets… at Orientalist
Ah, the Ottoman splendour of Highgate Road’s long-established carpet shops. And not as expensive as you might think, either (prices start at around £40, although it’s all very hagglable). Worth a snoop are both Kasra (99 Highgate Road) and Seneh Carpets (90 Highgate Road), but our favourite is the excellent The Orientalist, a vast three-room mini-empire which they claim is the largest handmade supplier in Europe, piled up with rugs and carpets of all sizes and ages. Most of the decorative kilims are Persian and Afghan, rather than Turkish. And once you’ve purchased, treat yourself to a cocktail over the road at Pizza East. 74-80 Highgate Road.
10. Quirky handmade toys… at Kirstin Baybars
Surely a contender for one of the most treasured shops in the capital, not just our postcode, the dolls’ house and miniature accessories emporium opposite Gospel Oak station is a perfect choice for a special gift. One of the few retail outlets where visitors still genuinely step into another world, Kirsten still holds court after approaching 40 years in an almost unchanged shop, a history she revealed in one of our most popular features of the year). She specializes in making tiny jigsaws, but you’ll also find all kinds of work from the world’s most famous miniature experts, as well as traditional toys and stocking fillers un-buyable anywhere else. Magical. 7 Mansfield Road.
What have we left out? Add your choices and tips below…
Words: Stephen Emms, Tom Kihl, Conor Fisk
Main Pic: Stephen Emms