I’ve talked about neighbourhoods in Brighton for shopping like a local. Today, I want to share a guide to my favourite independent Brighton shops with you. These are, my go-to shops, for food, homewares, souvenirs, gifts and cards, each one unique and interesting in its own way. Hopefully this list will help you plan your next weekend in Brighton itinerary.
Guide to Independent Brighton Shops
1. Tidy Street General Store (North Laine). This beautiful small shop with a lovely corner location (next door to this postage-sized cafe that does the best hot chocolate) packs in French label clothes, shoes, accessories, pretty ceramics and the best selection of baskets.
2. Magazine Brighton (North Laine). This sleek family-run shop is a haven of tranquility that stocks an eye-popping selection of beautiful-to-look-at independent magazines. Oh, and my book, Secret Brighton.
3. Abode Living (North Laine). Despite this shop’s teeny size, it manages to fit in lots of cool homewares, like rattan mirrors and chairs, eclectic crockery, and vintage travel posters.
4. Brighton Flea Market (Kemp Town). Snoopers Paradise in the North Laine is an amazing vintage flea market, but it gets seriously busy, especially at the weekend. This is a much quieter option across town with the same amount of vintage finds to browse spread across two huge floors – think antique glassware, 1970s bookcases, crockery, artwork, mirrors, and more. It’s also an excuse to visit Cafe Marmalade.
5. Preloved of Brighton (Fiveways). It’s always a fun surprise to walk past this neighbourhood gem second-hand clothes shop with its ever-changing themed window display, filled with vintage bargains.
6. Seven Cellars (Seven Dials). Lovely local wine shop up in what was an old butcher’s shop – you can still see the old tiles and hatch behind the till. It’s always packed with new things to try and they also do tasting nights.
7. Yashar Bish (North Laine). This is an Aladdin’s cave of exotic soft furnishings – think Afghan rugs, Kilim cushion covers in all kinds of colour schemes, patterns, sizes and shapes, Turkish mosaic lamps and tribal jewellery.
8. Yum Yum Oriental Supermarket (Sydney Street, North Laine). Looking in supermarkets abroad is one of my favourite things to do on holiday – fact! So, if I want to feel like I’m on holiday, I’ll come here and to lose myself for a while browsing the shelves packed with interesting looking Asian products that make you want to go home and whip up some noodles. It’s also a welcome break from the hipsterville craziness of the North Laine. I love the little Chinese soaps which come in rose, jasmine and ginseng, and and they also sell fortune cookies!
9. Black Out Shop (North Laine). Off the beaten path on the fringes of the North Laine is this wonderland of kitsch filled to the brim with all kinds of fun trinkets, gifts, cards, homewares and clothes from around the world – think Mexican Loteria cards, Morrocan melanine plates, candles and jewellery and tons of Indian kitsch – tin ornaments, woven bags, as well as kitschy Christmas decorations. Be prepared to lose yourself for a while.
10. Real Patiserrie (North Laine). Inventors of the city-famous ‘Chewy Brown’, this trio of patisserie shops give French bakeries a run for their money. Be prepared to come for a loaf, get totally carried away, and leave with arm fulls of paper bags filled with sweet treats. They also do quiches, sandwiches, party food and the most amazing Viennese-style mince pies at Christmas time.
11. Pen to Paper (North Laine). To me, shops don’t need to be fancy to be enticing. In fact, the more fancy the interior design, the more intimidating the shop in my opinion, which is why I love this time-worn place that thinks more about what it stocks – tons of notebooks, chic cards, fun pens, beautiful wrapping paper etc – than its interior design. They also have a great selection of Rhodia notebooks, made in France since 1934.
12. Spider Plant Shop (North Laine). Brighton’s tiniest plant shop hidden upstairs inside a vintage clothes shop in the same street as my favourite cinema and opposite this fun restaurant. Read more here.
13. New Fabric Fair (Gardner Street, North Laine). This feast for the eyesis my favourite place to buy fabric if I’m in a sewing mood which I am occasionally. It’s been open for over 80 years (!!!) and for the past 40 years by Monty and Shashi who took over in the 1980s. Inside, it’s organised chaos with shelves bursting with fabric from all over the world, that spills onto the pavement outside. There’s also a mesmerising collection of haberdashery including buttons, zips and all sorts of other useful bits and pieces.
14. Rainbow Organic Chocolates (Open Market). After lunch at this incredible falafel bar, a trip to Rainbow Chocolates is an absolute must for a palette cleansing sweet treat. Owner Suzanne, a former scientist, relocated to Brighton six years ago after started the business in Edinburgh 10 years ago. She makes each and every beautiful piece of chocolate herself, to her own recipes using the best organic seasonal ingredients. No plastic is used in the packaging and she isn’t afraid to experiment – they currently have a dark chocolate ganache truffle with liquorice in store. Best sellers are the seasonal chocolate collection and boasts several award-nominated chocolates, including the delectable marmalade truffle.
15. Brighton Apothecary: an overlooked haven of lotions and potions. I must have passed by this place countless times before I actually tried it. You have a 10-minute mini consultation with a medical herbalist who then comes up with an exciting sounding remedy for you. It’s a tiny place but stocks a fascinating and huge selection of herbal lotions, potions and tinctures. They can even blend bespoke oils or creams.
16. Utility (North Laine). Stepping inside this no-nonsense honest homeware shop is like time-travelling to 40s, 50s or 60s Britain or onto the set of the BBC comedy, Open All Hours. It’s been open an incredible 25 years, probably because it steers clear of trends, favouring products that are designed so well there’s been no need to change them. Think Spode crockery, Duralex glassware and Silvine stationery.
17. City Books: a neighbourhood institution. Another family-run shop, this is Brighton and Hove’s best-loved local indy bookshop. It’s a nice destination after a wander along the seafront from town. It’s well stocked with all the bestsellers and classics as well as a big range of local books, which includes Secret Brighton.
18: Audrey’s Chocolates (Hove). This nostalgic hidden sweet shop has roots in the 1920s, an original shop interior dating to the 1960s and connections to Fortnum and Mason. Each individual chocolate is made by hand in its mini chocolate factory, hiding on the first floor.
19. Hi Cacti (Seven Dials). This is Brighton’s only shop specialising in cacti, and easy-care houseplants and it’s run by the lovely Sabine Palermo who started it when she moved to England from Austin, Texas – which explains the Tex-Mex meets Palm Springs vibes inside. If you’re having a bad day and arrive here sad, you will leave full of inspiration and cheer.
20. Hisbe (London Road). We can’t really talk about shopping like a local in Brighton – the city of all things earthy and alternative – without mentioning a health-food shop. So, while everyone else is competing for space inside busy North Laine food emporium, Infinity Foods, you’ll find me in this spacious alternative outside central Brighton, taking my time to browse all the amazing selection of fresh veg, and trying to resist the chunky slices of vegan tiffin…