An independent shop is the physical embodiment of the owners’ passions. The proprietor has often chosen every item and can tell you the story behind each one. With such detailed knowledge, they are in a position to offer expert advice.
As buyers move away from the mass-produced and become aware of supporting their local community, independent shops have staged something of a comeback. They are also integral to the health of London’s creative scene. Without these commercial platforms, how could ceramicists keep their wheels turning or illustrators justify the cost of their link?
Of course, it would be impossible not to mention the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. When beginning work on this collection of over fifty stores across the capital at the start of the UK lockdown in March, the Hoxton Mini Press team feared that some shops would not survive.
Owners spoke emotionally about the overwhelming support they received in the form of emails, donations and visits from regulars, despite the fact that many were facing financial uncertainty themselves.
Proof, if ever we heard it, that independent shops are so much more valuable than the sum of their stock. Here are four of the best in north and east London. We make no excuse for two being book-sellers.
This is an edit from An Opinionated Guide to Independent London: The Capital’s Best Small Shops by Imogen Lepere (Hoxton Mini Press, £9.99), which features 50+ shops across all corners of the city. Buy it here