By Helen Davidson
With its eclectic mixture of individual shops selling almost anything you can think of, Brighton’s North Laines offers a shopping experience that cannot be found in any other city. Set aside from the main shopping area and away from most commercial stores, the North Laines have a vibrant and bohemian atmosphere combining retro chick with modern trends. Whenever I’m in Brighton I always visit to see what I can pick up. Being curious about the shops and the Laines in general, I decided to talk to the locals and find out what they liked the most about the North Laines and why they stood out from the typical run of the mill high street.
When I asked shop-worker, John Allport, 50 from Dave’s Comics in Sydney Street the title question, he replied: “There are no chain stores. All the shops are unique, something you don’t find in other cities.” John lives in Storrington, West Sussex but comes to work in Brighton everyday because he likes the Laines and that they are non-corporate and independent.
The Kensington Gardens shop, To Be Worn Again is one of my favourite places to look for clothes. Inside is a mixture of vintage and secondhand garments. You never know what you’re going to find but you can always be guaranteed to pick up something that no one else has. Olivia Broadbent Smith, 24 from Hassocks has worked in the Laines since she was 15 and enjoys working there because of the friendly atmosphere and sense of community. She said: “I can get anything I need down the Laines. You can find some real treasures.”
Also in the middle of Kensington Gardens in Snoopers Paradise, a large ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ that you can literally spend hours in. Shop-worker and Brighton resident, Francesca Herrera, 26 said: “The Laines are unique because of their general creativity and warm positive atmosphere.” The video below gives a snap-shot into a typical day the Laines and some views from shoppers and business owners.
Anne March, the owner of Oasis Antiques on Kensington Gardens has lived and worked in Brighton for around 30 years and has watched the area change over time. She told me: “The Laines have a historical feel about them and you can find more unusual things.”Walking through her shop I got the sense that everything for sale belonged from an older era and had a piece of history attached to it. Oasis Antiques shop is a heaven for collectors of art, clothes, vintage and general knickknacks.
Above I have mention only a handful of interesting places to explore there are still many more to be discovered. For anyone living locally or just visiting Brighton for the day, the North Laines is definitely worth a visit. For regular shoppers the Laines offers and different shopping experience each time you return.