Qype: The Friends Shop in Brighton

BrightonShoppingSecondhand Shops

Shopping in The Friends Shop is a distinctly odd and unique experience. Let’s just say it’s an acquired taste. For some people, a distinctly strange-smelling place full of jumbled up and chaotically scattered bric-a-brac of no discernible value is their idea of a nightmare. For people like me, this shop is an absolute treasure trove.

I have a serious addiction to second-hand books and here, you can pick any book you like up for the incredible price of 20p. Yes, that’s £0.20. True, they used to be 10p each, but I guess that’s inflation for you. You’ll find the books partly in a trolley out the front of the shop, partly in a huge bookcase at the back that’s bursting at the seams and partly in heaps on the floor. It’s a real rummaging mission, but I’ve found everything in here from a shorthand textbook, to Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’, to the latest chick-lit novels. Is there anywhere else you can get more bang for your buck? I think not.

It’s also a great place for odd little things like milk jugs, jewellery boxes and thimbles. Stuff that’s cute, but you never know you want until you see. It’s like rooting around in an old attic full of clutter – a little dirty and dusty, but immensely interesting. I’d steer clear of the clothing though… you really can’t be sure where it’s been. And you really don’t want to guess.

Check out my review of The Friends Shop – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Eleventh Flower in Brighton

BrightonShoppingFlorists

This great little flower shop is just one more reason of many that I adore living up at Fiveways. A unique and independent florist, Eleventh Flower deliver custom-made bouquets of flowers and pot plants anywhere in Brighton and Hove – plus, they only charge £2.50 for delivery.

The shop is an absolute pleasure to be in – the flowers all smell gorgeous, look stunning and are beautifully presented; there are rows of delightful hand-made greetings cards as well as sweet little bits and bobs for your home and garden.

The staff in here are incredibly friendly too (as with all the shops at Fiveways), going out of their way to help you and offer advice if they haven’t got what you need. A great addition to the ‘village’, I hope they continue to thrive and grow like their flowers for a long time.

View the Eleventh Flower website here.

Check out my review of Eleventh Flower – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: FAIR in Brighton

BrightonShoppingFair Trade

It’s not often that my first experience of a shop is to attend a wine tasting there – but that’s how I experienced FAIR just yesterday evening. It’s a novel experience to walk in, be greeted by a smiling member of staff, be handed a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and told to browse at your leisure. In fact, I reckon that’s how ALL shops should run as a matter of course.

FAIR has some absolutely beautiful clothes – light, summery dresses in crisp cottons, brightly coloured shrug-style cardis and handmade knitwear. Everything, of course, is entirely Fair Trade. I was particularly taken with a blue and white, stripy cotton dressing gown and matching PJ bottoms, but decided (sadly) that I couldn’t spare the sixty-odd quid needed to purchase them. Although I must say, I was sorely tempted by my fourth glass of wine.

The jewellery sold here is fantastic too – bright, chunky beads in gift boxes and long, beaded necklaces displayed draped upon hangers in such a way that shows you JUST how great they look with the dresses.

The shop itself is neutrally decorated and an absolute pleasure to browse – the fact that it’s so light and isn’t crammed with stock gives it an exclusive edge which I love. I’ll definitely be going back to this place, with or without the wine.

Check out my review of FAIR – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Fiveways Fruits in Brighton

Brighton

Fiveways Fruits is a fantastic, independent local greengrocer’s just two minutes from my front door. The fresh fruit and veg it stocks always looks bigger, better and fresher than the stuff you’ll find in your average supermarket. It’s also tastier and MUCH better quality.

What I find really special about this place though is that not only does it stock a delicious range of local preserves and organic dried fruit and nuts (the same brand sold in Infinity Foods), but they also stock gluten-free pastas (Dove’s Farm – the best) and things like vegan-friendly ‘cheese’. Not what you’d expect from your traditional little local grocery shop, is it?

It just goes to show that despite its traditional appearance, this great little place is really keeping up with the times and staying in tune with what the people of Brighton want and need. Well, what I want and need anyway…

I’m guilty of not shopping in here as much as I should, seeing as getting everything in one go at Sainsbury’s is incredibly convenient. But I’m going to start really making the effort to shop local and keeping places like this in business.

Check out my review of Fiveways Fruits – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Neal’s Yard Remedies in Brighton

BrightonHealth & BeautyHealthAlternative MedicineAlternative TherapyHealth & BeautyHealthAlternative Medicine

Unlike our resident ‘smell scrooge’ hartingale, I adore the smell of Neal’s Yard. They sell the most divine essential oils and gorgeous-smelling herbal remedies. As a lover of like-smelling shops such as Lush, this place is just heavenly.

The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable about the properties of the oils and herbs they sell – I’ve also been told that they’ll mix together custom-made ointments and herbal teas depending on your health or relaxation needs. The one downside is that these products are pretty pricey…

Neal’s Yard still maintain their signature blue bottle packaging that’s been the trademark of the business since it began in the early 80s and as a sucker for unique packaging, I just love having their products on my shelf. The last thing I was bought from here was a Bach Flower Essence Blend to supposedly bring me courage. You know what? I think it actually worked. That could just be a psychological placebo effect, or it could be the fact that it’s 26% brandy.

Check out my review of Neals Yard Remedies – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Penelope’s Portmanteau in Brighton

Brighton

This fabulous little vintage fashion shop opened just over a year ago on Ship Street. You’d be forgiven for walking past it several times before realising it’s there as it’s a little bit tucked away despite an incredibly central location.

On their website, they advertise themselves as a place “where you can escape from the throwaway world of fast fashion that is here today and gone tomorrow and choose instead the timeless elegance of a quality-made, vintage item.” Indeed, this gem of a fashion boutique is a world away from the ‘fast fashion’, throwaway world of Primark, New Look and H&M that we’ve all grown so accustomed to.

Despite its small size, Penelope’s Portmanteau is absolutely crammed with stunning broaches, costume jewellery, handbags and designer vintage gowns all laid out beautifully. With a wide range of prices, you can treat yourself to a bargain of around a fiver or splurge hundreds of pounds on one-of-a-kind designer pieces: last year, they sold off a stunning collection of Vintage Elizabeth Emanuel Couture Gowns.

Fantastic for browsing and amazing for accessorising, a visit to this place comes very highly recommended for anyone who’s even remotely interested in the world of fashion.

Check out my review of Penelope’s Portmanteau – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Pumpkin Patch in Brighton

BrightonChildrenChildren & Baby Fashion

Having wanted the chance to go baby shopping for absolutely ages, I finally got the chance this week following the birth my nephew. My first point of call was Pumpkin Patch, as I’ve longingly walked past it for far too long without having any excuse to go inside. But oh dear, how come baby clothes are so expensive? I mean, I would think twice about spending £15-£20 on an outfit for ME, let alone one I knew I was going to grow out of in about three months’ time.

Another thing that puzzled me was why on Earth all shops like this feel the need to put supposedly ‘cutesy’ little slogans on every single garment. I don’t WANT to give my nephew something proclaiming that he’s aspiring to be the next England captain, or a farmer, or is a baby member of some fictional LA baseball team. I just want a nice little plain jumper and jeans, thank you.

True, they had some rather cute bits like baby grows with animals on them (not sure what this apparent trend for dressing babies in giraffe-patterned things is, but hey I’m no fashion guru) and little sun hats and shoes. I left empty-handed in the end though and headed off to explore the baby toys on offer in the Early Learning Centre, which was WAY more fun.

Check out my review of Pumpkin Patch – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype