London is considered a shopping haven, and places like Oxford Street, Westfield, and Harrods are the usual destinations. To avoid huge crowds, however, your best bet is to explore weekend marketplaces, specialist stores and community shops in the city. If you’re on the hunt for unique finds and awesome deals, consider the places below during your visit to the capital.
Weekend markets usually feature small business proprietors and their unique products. Brick Lane hosts a Sunday market with goods ranging from local delicacies to all sorts of fashion items. Another good option is Stables Market in Camden, which is lined with stalls that sell urban clothing, retro furniture, and great street food. If you’re more of a collector though, we suggest visiting Notting Hill’s Saturday market on Portobello Road where you can buy tea sets, artworks and souvenirs.
Shoppers with very particular interests should check out London’s array of specialist shops. Adventurous travellers shouldn’t miss out on a visit to , Arthur Beale a yacht chandler shop in Shaftesbury Avenue that has been in business for 400 years. Although they mainly specialise in old-fashioned ropes, lifejackets, compasses, and other seafaring curios, there are also items for climbers and adventurers in general.
Plant enthusiasts, meanwhile, will have a lovely time in Columbia Road Flower Market. You will find various plant hawkers selling exotic plants, herbs, cacti, and even banana trees.
Other places to consider include Dover Street Market, a store and gallery which focuses on high fashion that you won’t find anywhere else; and Lomography Gallery Soho in Carnaby, which has a huge inventory filled with old and modern Lomo cameras and films.
Antique and vintage markets
London also has no shortage of antique and vintage markets. Shoreditch, for instance, is known for boutiques like Hunky Dory and Vintage Heaven. The former boasts a selection of 1970s style silk suits, leather handbags and other accessories; while the latter sells antique china sets and lamps from the 1920s to the 1970s.
The Old Spitalfields Market in East London is another viable option, especially if you fancy retro jewellery. It hosts a vintage market every Thursday.
Thrift stores and charity shops
For the more budget-conscious, thrift stores are your best bet. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the items have inferior quality because they are low-priced. The Londonist notes that these stores in the city are not just second-rate boutiques, and many of them do not even look like second hand shops at all. Streatham High Road, Northcote Road, Shepherd’s Bush, and Hammersmith are London’s thrift shopping hotspots.
There are also charity shops for those who are looking to enjoy some retail therapy while contributing to a good cause. Local NGO Save the Children identified designer fashion and bric-a-brac as the most common items sold in charity shops, but you can also find books, toys, and even DVDs. Many of these goods are in mint condition and every item is reasonably priced. These stores can be found all over London.