North London's Cultural Guide

Stay local: Xmas shopping guide 2014

Useful independent shops and stalls abound in these parts. Support them this festive season

Abi Thompkins, a designer at We Make London at Camden Market (see below). Photo: PR
Abi Thompkins, a designer at We Make London at Camden Market (see below). Photo: PR

Take home a tree

Ah yes, the seasonal Kentish Town Road display trussed up and strewn alongside every available bit of wall and canopy by Bean About Town. Alternatively, try haggling for a bargain on Queen’s Crescent (corner of Bassett Street) or local garden centre Boma (53 Islip Street NW5), where they’re laid out prettily and will set you back a little more.

Flowers and wreaths

Look at all those firs!
A forest of fir: Xmas trees by the canopy.
Jayne’s is a welcome splash of colour daily, and at Xmas, a veritable feast for the old mince pies. It must also get the highest footfall of almost anywhere in NW5, right next to the fruit and veg lady Sally Keable alongside the station. So deck that hall out in style (and the front door, if you do that kind of thing). 260 Kentish Town Road NW5

Cool lights for kids and kidults

Soho stalwart SKK Lighting has brought everything from neon dinosaurs to garbage chandeliers to Brecknock Road since moving to the area late last year. It really makes a fascinating wander round. And anything you buy screams “thoughtful!” 39 Brecknock Road N7

A big old turkey…

What Christmas is complete without a gut-busting roast? Thankfully both smart newcomer MeatNW5 (147 Fortess Road) and old fave Harry’s Fine Foods (258 Kentish Town Road NW5)has it covered, both offering an excellent selection of free range and organic meat to go with your taters and stuffing. Bring it on.


Or maybe something from the ocean?

A dog that lights up. What more could youw ant? At SKK lighting.
A dog that lights up. What more could you want? At SKK Lighting. Photo: SKK
Who better than superior fishmonger Jonathan Norris (140 Fortess Road), with his enviable selection of seasonal catches, as well as upmarket condiments and piscine accessories. But don’t forget Damian, the chirpy new fishmonger with his attractive counter in the window over at Harry’s, either (see above).

Gorgeous rugs, fittings and vintage carpets

Behold 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 renamed superstore Bazaar & Beyond, a three-room mini-empire which the owner claims 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. 74-80 Highgate Road NW5

Spotlight on: Camden Market

Camden Stables market. Photo: PR
Camden Stables market. Photo: PR

Camden Collective
The pioneering pop-up crew are now based both at 26 Camden High Street (art and design retailers) and at the Stables, for vintage and upcoming fashion designers, including a café called Eat Chic.

Modfather is a clothing company selling all things retro/mod – with a nifty cravat or two (priced at £45). Also try Plain Bear for contemporary menswear (screenprinted sweatshirts from £35) or Shoe Embassy, for a neat line in handcrafted leather gear for men and women (from £69).

Lock 24

Rummageable: Lock 24. Photo: PR
Rummageable: Lock 24. Photo: PR
This new classic rock ‘n’ roll print shop on Camden Lock Place is run by the journalist behind the London Calling blog.

General Eyewear
This optician and glasses designer in the Stables has had some exciting commissions from actors and film companies, recently creating eyewear for Colin Firth’s latest film the Railway Men, and Eddie Redmayne in the new Stephen Hawkins biopic.

We Make London are running 15 stalls in the Middle Yard (10am -7pm) every Friday leading up to Xmas. Cutting edge designer-makers sell their work direct to the public, creating a veritable smorgasbord of affordable original art, unusual clothing designs and quirky cards.

Vintage threads

Printmaker and textile guru Sarah Kahn sold her wares at Camden Passage in Islington for years before expanding her SK Vintage brand this autumn to the ex Hellenic bookshop on Fortess Road. She now sources accessories, bags, hats, scarves, flowing dresses and original pieces to create that “1970s Indian traveller” look. 51 Fortess Road NW5

Handmade toys

Another world...Kristin Baybars in Gospel Oak. Photo: Tom Storr
Another world: Kristin Baybars toyshop in Gospel Oak. Photo: Tom Storr
Surely a contender for one of the most treasured shops in the capital, Kristin Baybars’ 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, Kristin holds court after over 40 years in an almost unchanged shop. 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 NW3

Affordable antiques

If you miss Queen’s Crescent’s weekly outdoor Saturday market don’t forget there’s always Matt Townsend’s two antiques shops, surprisingly satisfying for a rummage – and a bargain. 179 Queen’s Crescent NW5

Two wheeled wonders

Get your loved ones some wheels. Photo: Giant Camden
Get your loved ones some wheels. Dog not included. Photo: Giant Camden
Cycling is booming in London, with our slice of the postcode pie identified as second only to fixie bike-obsessed Hackney in the two-wheeled popularity stakes. Yet traditional bike shops have been hit hard by online retailers so support this longstanding store this year revamped as Giant Camden. 75 Kentish Town Road NW1

Quirky interiors

We love Future & Found’s impressive new warehouse space opposite Tufnell Park tube. Inevitably they are going Xmas gift crazy, with a selection of stocking fillers and bigger gifts at all prices. Very practical, and such a nice environment to swoosh about in. 225a Brecknock Road N19

Unusual gifts and stocking fillers

Loads goodies here.  Photo: Future & Found
Loadsa goodies here. Photo: Future & Found
Now the proud owners of a smart new shopfront, Soho Hip relocated to Tufnell Park two years ago from Norwich, and its owner Debra has quickly become a firm fixture in the community. She sells children’s toys, games and silver jewellery made with real flowers. Plus homewares, luxury candles, cards and gift wrap. Even better, she’s great for a natter. 148 Fortess Road NW5

Books and more books

Walden (38 Harmood Street NW1) is the area’s most beautiful second hand bookshop, tucked away two mins’ walk from Kentish Town West. And at Owl, you can find something for every generation, the first editions, hardbacks and tables of paperbacks and reissues. There are stacks of tomes on local history. And it goes without saying that there are quality greetings cards and a cosy children’s section, too.207-209 Kentish Town Road NW5

Live in Archway? Check out our shopping and gift guide here. Got a favourite shop you’d like to tell other readers about? Why, add it below.

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The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.