More upcoming shopping events in London
Smithfield Market (also known as London Central Market) provides a colourful link to an age when the quality of British beef was a symbol of national virility and good humour. Designed by Horace Jones, Smithfield opened for business in 1868 and early risers will still find meat and poultry (though no livestock) traders setting up their stalls at first light inside the metal structure with its ornate arched ceiling and bizarre colour scheme (white, purple, blue and green). Nowadays Smithfield is also notable for its swanky eateries, odd neighbour, club Fabric.
Most of Deptford Market is your standard south/east London fare: three-pack pants, timber wolf fleeces, Duracells and lighters. Halfway down its length, though, is a distended gut of impacted crap, presided over by two tennis umpires up stepladders who take money, dispense change and guard against pilfering. There’s a brisk turnover of domestic breakables and massive accretions of video cassettes that never seem to move – a Monument Valley of the VHS age. Haggling can be hit and miss: friends have witnessed stallholders smash items if they think barterers are taking the piss.
From Whitechapel Market, you can look west along the high street to where the Gherkin stands out above the City. It might as well be the Emerald City for all the relevance it has here: this is a non-stop, heaving, all-weather, cacophonous East End micro-economy, born of pragmatism rather than fashion and largely sustained by local Bangladeshis. Go for fruit, phonecards, pots and pans, fish, spices, cleaning products and the sort of vegetables you might have to ask the name of. For a lunch break visit Needoo Grill: just over the road, this no-frills BYO restaurant serves excellent Punjabi food.
Offering an eclectic jumble of street food, clothing, gifts and more, Camden Lock Market is a characterful shopping experience. The market may have started its life selling solely arts and crafts, but under a new initiative Camden Lock has been hosting an array of events, from festivals to night markets and pop up stores. Highlights of the new calendar include a Deli market and pop up yoga on Wednesdays, Out the Box street food every Thursday night and regular live comedy, ensuring that there’s sure to be something different going on each time you visit.
This London institution may appear too commercial and crowded to provide a characterful retail experience, but some quirky gems lift the experience. The colonnaded nineteenth-century Piazza building houses Apple Market, where tourist-friendly crafts are the staple, as well as cutesy chain stores – although it’s worth keeping a look out for independents still holding their ground such as Eric Snook’s Toyshop and the specialist tobacconist/cigar shop Segar & Snuff Parlour. Over in the South Piazza, Jubilee Market is a little more eccentric: Mondays are for antiques lovers while Tuesday to Friday sees a hotch-potch general market including clothing and household goods. Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for arty knick-knacks and crafts largely geared toward touritst.