Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Crystal Palace - feeling the love

Everyone I meet these days - or so it seems - raves about SE19.

They tell stories of what great community spirit is, about how they've avoided gentrification and of course, they all talk about the dinosaurs.

Needless to say when Annette at Vintagehart offered to give me a guided tour of Crystal Palace's much-famed 'traingle' I was delighted. Finally, I got to see what all the fuss was about.

Having been on my tour and chatted to Annette about the joys of SE19, I'm pleased to say that I get it.

There's nothing obvious about Crystal Palace. It's not an obvious shopping destination (though it should be) and the shops themselves don't present themselves in an obvious way. The atmosphere is unique to the area and created by the residents and shopkeepers who all seem pleased to see each other.

There is a high concentration of lovely, unique independent shops, run by people like Annette who love what they sell and the people they sell to. The shops are great, funky and very stylish, and they're also very real and incredibly affordable (scarlily so when compared with what one might pay for the same products on Upper Street or Brick Lane).

It's no wonder designers, photographers, fashionistas and young families are all moving there. The only unfortunate by-product of its well earned popularity is the density of estate agents on the triangle. With their glossy sign-writing, carefully choreographed window-displays and faux charm, they're nothing at all like the wonderful shops they're lucky to be surrounded by.

As a real testament to the community spirit in Crystal Palace, the shopkeepers have arranged a day of all the best the area has to offer and more. I can't make it unfortunately, but Dave and Pedro will be there - be sure to say hello if you see them.

Of course, Annette's shop Vintagehart is now listed on the guide, as is Bookseller Crow on the Hill with Glitter and Twisted (a fab vintage home accessories store) to follow soon. Let me know which shops you love in Crystal Palace, I'd love to give them all the chance to shine.

1 comment:

Gu said...

Being unchained is a good thing, I agree. But the independent spirit you that I use to love about local businesses has been forever tarnished by the fact that the independant estate agents, Rolfe and Jones of Westow Street have disappeared owing me a considerable amount of money.

Unfortunately it means that from now on I'll look to those nasty nationwide chains of estate agents who are less likely to disppear into the ether.

If you know of anyone else who has been similarly ripped off, I'd appreciate hearing about it - there could be strength in numbers.