Kentishtowner Awards: Best Independent Shop 2012

Compiling the results for today’s Award confirmed just how many proudly independent businesspeople there are trading successfully in the area …

Owl Bookshop Front

Compiling the results for today’s Award confirmed just how many proudly independent businesspeople there are trading successfully in the area right now. Almost every type of shop got a look-in, from repeated enthusing for places like B&S DIY and A+K Warehouse to praise for unassuming corner shops such as Leverton Stores: ‘Great ripe fruit ‘n’ veg,’ said one reader,’plus everyday essentials and wonderfully random food from truffle oil to fresh miso and whole horseradish.’

Votes were cast at clusters of favourite indies around Brecknock (Bumblebee, Salvinos and new vegan clothing store Third Estate), Tufnell Park (for Future & Found, Soho Hip and Eeny Meeny boutiques); and York Rise for Truffles and Continental Stores.

Where else? Giacobazzi’s Deli on Fleet Road: ‘It’s so tasty I want to buy everything whenever I go in;’ Frank’s in Queens Crescent, ‘Amazing, cheap, brilliant,’ and Junction Rd’s Theatre of Wine: ‘A real gem. Tastings are fantastic.’


Further afield things got more arty, with Camden’s Slanchogled Arts & Crafts and also Copy Cat Art getting a few thumbs up each. In the Market, innovative ice cream merchants Chin Chin Labs and the beautiful Forms (as featured in our Xmas shopping guide last week) had praise bestowed upon them.

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1. Owl Bookshop

Buy the Kentishtowner Bible here.
Buy the Kentishtowner Bible at Owl.

Holding its position in this category for the second year on the trot, everyone in the area has a soft spot for the institution that is Owl. Nearing its 40th birthday, our high street book store is the epitome of a cherished indy in 2012. Of course, the red hot topic of what constitutes an independent, with the Owl owned by mini-chain Daunt Books, raises its head. But it would be a rare pedant indeed to argue that growth of this particular empire was somehow bad for a street. Customer service may feel a little dated (and occasionally, in our experience, standoffish), but for providing us with the increasingly rare joy of a non-branded, wholly offline book shopping experience, Owl wins your votes by the bucketload. 207 Kentish Town Road.

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2. Phoenicia

Last year we were disheartened that the votes seemed to overlook this indy supermarket in our midst. Twelve months and a few more improvements down the line, voters have remembered. Doing everything that a chain store can’t do, such as stocking interesting European and Middle Eastern imports or carrying a seriously huge range of staples like olive oil and types of pasta, while running their own butcher’s counter, coffee grinding, sit-down meze café and party catering services, Phoenicia is at the heart of many a grocery outing in KT Road. Staff are fully involved in the success of the business and deeply knowledgeable, which makes a welcome change from the glazed looks often to be found elsewhere. 186 Kentish Town Road.

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3. Harry’s Fine Foods

harry's fine foods
Let’s put aside the tussle over whether the place is, or is not currently threatened (it’s absolutely no longer up for sale now) since Harry’s is exactly the sort of shop that should be gaining support regardless. And so we were pleased to see him take third place. We can only hope that the vote of confidence displayed in their year’s result stretches into real world via locals’ continued regular patronage. An extensive, meticulously well sourced range of meat and fish (we particularly like the lamb chops at the moment) plus an ideal location and some interesting forays into takeaway options have all underlined Harry’s as a staple visit in 2012. With specialist food shops under more pressure than ever before, we are fortunate our high street even has such a store at all. 258 Kentish Town Road.

Tomorrow: Best Live Venue

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