What to do this weekend: the best independent traders to visit for Christmas shopping

Independent shopping on Columbia Road. Pic: Clara Murray

Some aspects of society have done well out of 2020’s all-consuming bin fire – puppy breeders, sweatpants and a certain video call software – but one player has reigned supreme: Amazon.  A home office chair here, a corkscrew there; unfortunately, it all goes straight into Jeff Bezos’ offshore accounts rather than our local High Streets.

It is not an ideal state of affairs. So, as smaller shops limp on through lockdown after lockdown with limited support, let’s share the love (and cash) this Christmas.

After a long month of lockdown, shops are now open again and many of us will be out and about this weekend buying presents for Christmas. So Eastlondonlines has rounded up a selection of each boroughs’ independent shops to support with your gift-giving – whatever the scale of your celebrations this year.  

All of these shops are open for both in-person and online shopping unless otherwise specified.


Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

Pic: Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

Perfect for the friend who is still secretly a bit goth. This spooky little shop sells “bespoke and everyday items for the living, dead and undead”. Its quirky stock includes ‘thickest human snot’ and ‘toasted bone chunks’ – that’s lemon curd and cinder toffee to us humans. All proceeds go to Ministry of Stories, a creative writing charity for children.

159 Hoxton St, Hoxton, N1 6PJ
Thursday & Friday: 1pm – 5pm
Saturday: 11am – 5pm
Sunday – Wednesday: Closed
Website: https://www.monstersupplies.org/

Burley Fisher Books

Pic: Burley Fisher Books

This independent bookshop in Haggerston focuses on small publishers and boasts a wide selection of everything from poetry to political theory. During the first lockdown, it quickly pivoted to a bicycle delivery service and online shop. Now, it is back open in person. It also runs a book subscription club, where for £13-15, you get a selected title posted direct to you each month.  And if you are stuck for choice, the friendly staff can usually point you in the right direction – or check out their bookseller’s picks.

400 Kingsland Rd, Dalston, E8 4AA
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm
Sunday: 12am – 6pm
Website: https://burleyfisherbooks.com

Borough Wines

Specialists in organic, vegan and natural wines with “real provenance”, apparently. But they will get you just as drunk as the regular sort. This is my favourite wine shop because the shop assistants will always give you wonderful wine adjectives to impress your friends with. Hand over a bottle, tell them it has a “constructed nose” – job done.

67 Wilton Way, Hackney, E8 1BG / 163 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UL
Monday–Thursday: 12pm–8pm
Friday–Saturday: 12pm–9pm
Sunday: 12pm–7pm
Website: https://boroughwines.co.uk/

Tower Hamlets

World of Echo

World of Echo. Pic: Clara Murray

Virtually every shopfront on Columbia Road is an independent outlet selling gift-worthy goodies of one kind or another. We picked this vinyl-only music store for its breadth of obscure new and second-hand picks in genres like ambient, post-punk and jazz. The team is passionate and knowledgeable – as they say on their blog: “This ain’t no business, honey. This is a lifestyle.”

128 Columbia Road, Hoxton, E2 7RG
Wednesday: 12pm – 8pm
Thursday – Saturday: 12pm – 5pm
Sunday: 11am – 4pm
Website: https://worldofechomusic.com/

Eastern Biological

This gift shop felt the need to specify on its website that, contrary to appearances and popular opinion, it is not part of the Natural History Museum. The owners say they wanted to create a modern interpretation of a Wunderkammer, or ‘curiosity shop’. That means a mixture of beautifully designed art prints, educational toys, popular science books and other “unusual gifts and oddities”, all with a common theme of the natural world.

485 Hackney Road, Bethnal Green E2 9ED
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Saturday: 11am – 6pm
Sunday: 11am – 5pm
Website: https://easternbiological.co.uk

Duke of Uke

If your loved one has been thinking about picking up a musical instrument during this year’s vast expanses of free time, a ukulele isn’t the worst starting point: they are quiet and cheap. This wonderfully punning shop has hundreds of ukes in all shapes, sizes and colours to choose from. It also runs classes through their School of Uke, now online, and does gift vouchers for their ‘taster’ sessions.

88 Cheshire Street, Shoreditch E2 6EH
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Friday: 1pm – 6.30pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11am – 6pm
Website: https://www.dukeofuke.co.uk/


Tom Bloom in his shop. Pic: Clara Murray

Milagros’ owner Tom Bloom has been importing handmade products from Mexico for over 30 years, after falling in love with the country on a road trip in 1990. The shop is overflowing with bold, colourful and unique items like carvings, baskets and mirrors. For lovers of Frida Kahlo or anyone who just needs a little bit more vibrancy in their lives.

61 Columbia Road, Bethnal Green, E2 7RG
Monday – Friday: 11am – 5pm
Thursday: 11am – 8pm (late night)
Saturday: 12pm – 5pm
Sunday: 9am – 4pm
Website: https://www.milagros.co.uk/


Deptford Does Art

A gallery-slash-shop that curates local art prints, ceramics, homeware and handmade cards. In normal times, the team run exhibitions, workshops and Friday night cocktails. But now you can order online from the ‘virtual indie shop’. They will also host an in-person Indie Made Christmas event between 3-6 December 10am-5pm to showcase and sell the work of 12 local jewellers, candle makers, artists and more.

28 Deptford High Street, SE8 4AF
Wednesday – Saturday: 10am-5pm
Website: http://www.deptforddoesart.com/

Jones of Brockley

A true foodie’s paradise. When he opened back in 2015, Owner Michael Jones told the Evening Standard he will “always prioritise flavour and quality but I’m not a fancy deli … I’ve got things here for every pocket.” Those things include wine, pickles, cheeses and imported Italian panettone.

354 Brockley Road, Brockley, SE4 2BY
Monday: Closed
Tuesday to Saturday:  9am – 8pm
Sunday:  11am – 6pm
Website: https://www.jonesofbrockley.com/

Moon Lane Books

This non-profit bookshop is dedicated to raising equality in children’s books and publishing. For its efforts, it was namedChildren’s Bookseller of the Year at the British Book Awards 2020. The selection runs from books for babies all the way up to young adult and focuses on inclusive and representative titles – including Antiracist Baby and Pink is for Boys.

300 Stanstead Road, Catford, SE23 1DE
Monday – Saturday: 9am – 6pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm
Website: https://www.moonlaneink.co.uk/


Coconut Trading

Pic: Coconut Trading

The owner of this shop personally imports all kinds of decorative crafts and antiques from Southeast Asia and Africa. His wares include incense burners, jewellery, carvings, furnishings and textiles. There is no online shop but stepping into the Crystal Palace store will make you feel a world away from the drizzly streets of South London.

68 Church Road, Crystal Palace, SE19 2EZ
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Saturday: 10.30am – 5.30pm
Sunday: 12pm – 4.30pm
Website: https://www.instagram.com/coconut_trading/


Pic: Papagaio

Papagaio – Portuguese for parrot – is an independent toy and children’s clothes shop that prides itself on its quirky range that promises to “help stimulate and develop young minds”. Handily, it groups their items by age. No more frantic attempts to remember what do five-year-olds like, anyway? According to Papagaio, they like archery sets, snowglobes and dinosaur jigsaws.

45 Westow Street, Upper Norwood, SE19 3RW
Monday – Thursday: 10am – 5.30pm
Friday & Saturday: 10am – 7pm
Sunday: 11am – 4.30pm
Website: https://www.papagaioworld.com/


Just around the corner from Papagaio, this designer-run shop stocks homewares, clothing, jewellery and gifts. The vibe is ‘quirky but sophisticated’, involving vases with faces and yoga-patterned notebooks. It lives on the Crystal Palace triangle, a junction filled with indie shops, bars and restaurants, but everything is also available to browse and buy online, too.

85 Church Rd, Upper Norwood, SE19 2TA
Open daily, but Tier 2 opening hours TBC
Website: https://www.trouva.com/boutiques/elkins-in-se192ta

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