Addicted to the thrill of last minute Christmas shopping? Me too! I figured out a long time ago that the lazy and unmotivated Christmas shopper can pass herself off as the Queen of Thoughtful Gifting, as long as she confines her in-store shopping to those genius retailers who pack a small floor-space with a staggering array of products, all of excellent quality . Here is my all-points-of-the-compass (nearly: Central passes for South in my psycho-geography) guide to the best independent retailers for last minute gifting.
Need to stop Centrally? Then head to BeautyMART, Top Shop, Oxford Circus, W1. BeautyMART is a TARDIS: a small floorspace, but a HUGE selection, and a range of brands like no other. Since their launch in 2012, BeautyMART have said they’d be ‘all killer, no filler’, and they’ve kept their word. Numerous brands have launched with them and gone on to be cult favourites – they broke Bioderma in the UK, and in the process, kicked off the French Pharmacy trend. BeautyMART stock cosmetics, haircare, skincare, tanning products, beauty tools and fragrance – it’s quite amazing how they pack it all in, whilst keeping the space inviting and exciting. You could reach out to the shelves blindfold, and your fingers will touch upon something intriguing, irresistible and gift-able. BeautyMART stock the best products available across every price point, so a shopping trip here won’t break your budget – unless you want it too!
Keeping it Westside? Recently launched Zen Pharmacy, 53 Beauchamp Place, SW3 has a wonderful edit – I tried to photograph my favourite shelves on a recent visit, and gave up when I realised I was photographing every single one. The shop is bright, white and inviting and the floorspace comparitively tiny, which is exactly what you want when you’re doing everything at the very last minute. The skincare and healthcare choices on offer here are beautifully displayed, and you will find something to suit every budget and every taste: from quirky detox patches for the feet to beautifully packaged organic and natural lines and skin-ceuticals.
For East London shopping, try The Gift Box by Maiden at Boxpark, Bethnal Green Road, E1. This is your one stop shop for quirky and cute, and if you have a fan of pugs and pineapples on your list, you will be in gifting heaven. I’m very taken with their ‘It’s My Fucking Birthday’ badges, and it’s a lovely place to shop in if you have children in tow, as a few shocked giggles at this type of merchandise can really lift flagging holiday spirits. Worth remembering that the Gift Box is a pop-up, but Maiden can still be found in Shoreditch once we are into 2016 and it is once again socially acceptable to treat oneself as well as others.
My favourite independent retailer(s) in North London? There are two of them actually, handily situated within the same building – which even more handily, features a (very dangerous) built in cash machine. Sounds That Swing is located at 88 Parkway, NW1 and is beloved by all who like to browse and buy vinyl. Out the back and down the stairs of Sounds That Swing you will find the more recently launched Vinyl Boutique: owned by musicians Lyn and Boz Boorer. If you are blessed or cursed with a loved one with a passion for music, at 88 Parkway, you can be assured that even if you have NO CLUE what to buy, the highly knowledgable (and very lovely) people here can help you find something fantastic.
Each one of the four shops listed above are independent, boutique, a bit on the niche side, and owned and staffed by knowledgable and friendly people really committed to providing great products and service. Please add them to your address book, because – just like puppies – a relationship with a fabulous shop is for Life, not just for Christmas.
Wishing you happy and stress-free Christmas Shopping wherever you are and whatever you choose to buy! xxx