Alternative Christmas shopping in Brighton

By Ruth Hazard

Brighton is known for being the home of all things quirky and cool which means there are few better places for an adventurous Christmas shopper to trawl for seasonal goods.

If you can’t face another year of mumbling your apologies as you present silly jumpers and multi-pack socks, why not avoid the frenzy of Churchill Square and venture into the twists and turns of the North Laine?

North Laine Christmas lights
Photo used under Creative Commons by humbert15


You’ll be amazed how much more exciting Christmas shopping can be when you go ‘off the list’ and you have the added bonus of knowing your hard earned cash has gone into the pocket of a local business. Plus there are plenty of pubs around for respite if it does all get too much…

Snooper’s Paradise

‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’: never truer than in this antique shop-cum-jumble sale. There’s no definitive list of what you might find inside, simply go with a view to rummage and an open mind.

On my explorations I have seen everything from a beautiful 1950s gramophone in full working order to a mechanical smoking frog. There’s always a good stock of classic SLR cameras, ornaments, books, clothes, accessories and retro comics and magazines.

Perfect gifts for… Secret Santa, eccentric uncles, knick knack collectors, stocking fillers.

Snooper’s Paradise Flea Market, 7-8 Kensington Gardens, Brighton, BN1 4AL
Tel: 01273 602558
E-mail: nic@internetdropshop.co.uk
Opening times: Monday-Saturday, 10:00am-6:00pm; Sunday, 11:00am-4:00pm

Pen to Paper

This may essentially be a stationers but don’t be fooled by its unassuming shop front.

Most Christmas request lists of over 30’s ask for a diary, calendar or notebook of some description and now you can please the habitually organised with something original from Pen to Paper’s unique artistic designs.

If you want something beautiful but classic Pen to Paper holds one of the largest ranges of Moleskine journals in the UK, as well as notebooks from Clairefontaine.

For something more individual they stock poetry diaries with pages to jot down inspirations and manuscripts, musician’s logs complete with blank sheet music and quotes from purveyors of rock ‘n’ roll, and pads bound with vintage comic book covers that will help you relive your wasted youth.

There are notebooks that have flown across continents, with ethnic-inspired designs that you won’t find on the High Street as well as ones made from recycled material for the ethically conscious gift giver.

If you need something really special, Pen to Paper can offer Vergé de France writing paper from Paris that captures the romance of letter writing; it even comes complete with matching tissue-lined envelopes. If this doesn’t suit, you can also find deckle-edged Fabriano cards from Italy.

Not denying the latter half of their name, the shop also stocks pens and inks from Lamy, Fisher Space and Herbin.

Even if you’re not in the market for pen or paper there’s plenty of unusual cards and gift wrap to ensure your presents stand out from the other offerings under the tree.

Perfect gifts for… Students, parents, grandparents, aspiring writers, musicians and poets.

Pen to Paper, 4 Sydney Street, Brighton, BN1 4EN
Tel: 01273 676670
Opening times: Monday-Saturday, 10:00am-6:00pm; Sunday, 11.30am-5:00pm
www.pentopaperonline.com

Bill’s Produce Store

This has the added bonus of also being a bustling eatery with delicious breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners and sweet treats that you can sample whilst keeping ever faithful to your mission to Christmas shop. The food has such a reputation that Bill’s is often overlooked for its original purpose: a produce store opened first in Lewes in by Bill Collison, a greengrocer by trade.

The store sells jams (from plum, pear and apple to gooseberry and gin) curds, pickles, pachadis, mustards, marmalades, oils, vinegars and dressings, juices, cordials, French lemonades, locally brewed beer, speciality tea bags and coffee beans, as well as jars of marinated vegetables, beans and fish. If you have cash to splash you could even buy a few items and Bill’s will make up your own Christmas hamper for between £10 and £25 depending on size.

There’s also biscuits of the oat and toffee or chocolate brazil nut variety, as well as champagne truffles and bags of sweets or flavoured chocolate if you want to offer up something more interesting than the usual selection box.

You can also snap up and give away a copy of Bill’s own recipe book Cook, Eat, Smile where recipes follow the seasons with ingredients dependent on what is being harvested at each particular point of year.

Perfect gifts for… foodies, aspiring produce growers, stocking fillers and keen home cooks.

Bill’s Produce Store, The Depot, 100 North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YE
Tel: 01273 692894
E-mail: brighton@billsproducestore.co.uk
Opening times: Monday-Saturday, 8:00am-10:00pm; Sunday, 9:00am-10:00pm
www.bills-website.co.uk

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