Going local: A guide to south-east London’s small independent business

Nov 21, 2021 | Things to do

Local independent businesses add a sense of youthful exuberance and culture to a neighbourhood and south-east London offers plenty of that. The local businesses are not only key wealth generators but are also important pillars to the local communities. Whether it is small independent restaurants, boutiques, cafes, bars, theaters or bookshops, South-East London has its fair share of them, making the area lively and imbuing it with a creative spirit. 

The 2020 lockdown caused by COVID-19 was detrimental to many businesses, and approximately 100,000 businesses closed as a result. Therefore, it has never been more vital to keep supporting small independent businesses than now.  

This roundup of small independent businesses throughout south-east London can help you find some charming hidden gems in the area. Also, as the Christmas countdown begins, you can use this article to find unique gifts for your family and friends.  

Forest

Forest is an independent house plant shop that sells natural spa products and offer aesthetically pleasing flower arrangements to pollution-cleaning and air-purifying plants.

The store offers a free potting service where they help you match your plant with a suitable pot or planter. Their impressive array of fauna is available for nationwide delivery, click and collect at their Dulwich store, as well as fresh well-kept flowers in-store.  

The store has monthly workshops on basic flower arranging skills, terrarium building and wreath making. Additionally, they invite creatives to teach classes on candle making, urban gardening and much more. 

The Flood Gallery

The Flood Gallery is an independent art gallery that also hosts live band performances. They sell band-posters, art prints, books, merchandise, and albums. The idea of concert posters as art appeared in the late 60s but faded away when music went mass market. Over the past decade or so there has been a renewed interest in this art-form with a whole new breed of talented artists expressing their love of music through beautiful and handcrafted posters. The posters are unique, collectable yet affordable and are a gateway drug for music fans wishing to bring more art into their lives and on their walls at home. They also offer a framing service for those who want to bring in their own artwork or posters to get them framed. The place is perfect for music and art lovers.  

Baldwins

G. Baldwin & Co, known to locals simply as ‘Baldwins’ sells a wide range of health products, from natural remedies for your skin and hair, aromatherapy like essential oils, herbs, supplements and much more. The shop has a history dating back to 1844 and is known as one of the oldest and most established herbalists in London. At its peak, the shop had 12 branches around London, but when the founder George Baldwin passed away, his son who was an engineer had no interest in the business, therefore the shops around the city began to close the store managers gradually left.

At the end of the First World War Henry Dagnell joined G. Baldwin & Co as a staff member and was responsible for collecting all unsold stock from shops that were closing. In 1951 when the then owner of the shop died, Henry who had been promoted to a managerial role, purchased the company which since then has been run by his sons. The locals in the area have a lot of childhood memories in the shop.

The Rosemary

The Rosemary is a Hungarian restaurant that prides itself on supplying the highest quality organic food at affordable prices. The restaurant’s meals and snacks are freshly made from the finest organic ingredients sourced from certified organic farms and other organic food growers, that they partner with locally in the area. The restaurant has a cosy atmosphere that is perfect for all occasions. The restaurant has its own eco system that is used to maintain the beautiful, vine-like plants that cover the shelves and windows. The water from these plants is filtered and sent to a freshwater fish tank they have on display, then the waste the fish produce converts into fertiliser for the plants and so the cycle continues. The food is served in bowls and plates that the owner makes himself while the furniture is made by the owner’s son adding a personalised touch to the ambience of the place. The place has become a staple for locals owning to its carefully crafted menu.

Fowlds Café

Fowlds Café is a micro-coffee shop and general store on the edge of Burgess Park. The café is surrounded by a cosy interior laden with history. The workshop remains in the family under the ownership of Bob Fowlds. Jack Wilkinson, a creative visual designer who had worked in art direction for television as well as in retail design for brands that include Selfridges, envisaged the idea of the café in an upholstery workshop and contacted Bob Fowlds to set up the café in front of the family workshop. They have been sensitive to the upholstering legacy, enriching the workshop with the café, flowers and artwork whilst maintaining much of the workshop’s heritage, including its signage.  

They offer fresh pastries, cakes and bread and daily changing home-cooked seasonal food and from Thursday to Saturday the team open in the evenings to serve bar snacks, craft beers, wine, and cocktails.  

Well known upholster James Fowlds first set up shop in Walworth in 1870 and then alter moved its present location in Camberwell.  

Kirkdale Bookshop

Kirkdale Bookshop located on 272 Kirkdale, Sydenham, is one of the oldest bookshops in South-East London and has been around for over two decades now. It is a charming community-oriented bookshop that has gradually expanded to two floors over the years and now has an extensive range of new and second-hand books, an engaging children’s section, cards and gifts, and an art gallery- the latter made possible owning to the bookshop’s connections with local artists. This local bookshop is “a combination of award-winning bookshop and cultural hub” – having been awarded best bookshop in the area by Time Out London. If you are unable to find a book you are looking for the staff will order it for you online and can have most books within 24 hours. It also hosts several cultural events including book signings and readings by authors, exhibitions, and children’s events.

Forest

Forest is an independent house plant shop that sells natural spa products and offer aesthetically pleasing flower arrangements to pollution-cleaning and air-purifying plants.

The store offers a free potting service where they help you match your plant with a suitable pot or planter. Their impressive array of fauna is available for nationwide delivery, click and collect at their Dulwich store, as well as fresh well-kept flowers in-store.  

The store has monthly workshops on basic flower arranging skills, terrarium building and wreath making. Additionally, they invite creatives to teach classes on candle making, urban gardening and much more. 

Location

43 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, SE22 8EW

Opening hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday to Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 11am-4pm

The Flood Gallery

The Flood Gallery is an independent art gallery that also hosts live band performances. They sell band-posters, art prints, books, merchandise, and albums. The idea of concert posters as art appeared in the late 60s but faded away when music went mass market. Over the past decade or so there has been a renewed interest in this art-form with a whole new breed of talented artists expressing their love of music through beautiful and handcrafted posters. The posters are unique, collectable yet affordable and are a gateway drug for music fans wishing to bring more art into their lives and on their walls at home. They also offer a framing service for those who want to bring in their own artwork or posters to get them framed. The place is perfect for music and art lovers.  

Location

8 Greenwich Market, SE10 9HZ

Opening hours

Every day: 10am-6pm

Baldwins

G. Baldwin & Co, known to locals simply as ‘Baldwins’ sells a wide range of health products, from natural remedies for your skin and hair, aromatherapy like essential oils, herbs, supplements and much more. The shop has a history dating back to 1844 and is known as one of the oldest and most established herbalists in London. At its peak, the shop had 12 branches around London, but when the founder George Baldwin passed away, his son who was an engineer had no interest in the business, therefore the shops around the city began to close the store managers gradually left.

At the end of the First World War Henry Dagnell joined G. Baldwin & Co as a staff member and was responsible for collecting all unsold stock from shops that were closing. In 1951 when the then owner of the shop died, Henry who had been promoted to a managerial role, purchased the company which since then has been run by his sons. The locals in the area have a lot of childhood memories in the shop.

Location

171-173 Walworth Road, SE17 1RW 

Opening hours

Monday to Wednesday: 9am-6pm
Thursday: 9am-7pm
Friday to Saturday: 9am-6pm
Sunday: closed

The Rosemary

The Rosemary is a Hungarian restaurant that prides itself on supplying the highest quality organic food at affordable prices. The restaurant’s meals and snacks are freshly made from the finest organic ingredients sourced from certified organic farms and other organic food growers, that they partner with locally in the area. The restaurant has a cosy atmosphere that is perfect for all occasions. The restaurant has its own eco system that is used to maintain the beautiful, vine-like plants that cover the shelves and windows. The water from these plants is filtered and sent to a freshwater fish tank they have on display, then the waste the fish produce converts into fertiliser for the plants and so the cycle continues. The food is served in bowls and plates that the owner makes himself while the furniture is made by the owner’s son adding a personalised touch to the ambience of the place. The place has become a staple for locals owning to its carefully crafted menu.  

Location

178 New Cross Road, SE14 5AA 

Opening hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday to Friday: 6pm-10pm
Saturday: 12pm-10pm
Sunday: 12pm-9pm

Fowldes Café

Fowlds Café is a micro-coffee shop and general store on the edge of Burgess Park. The café is surrounded by a cosy interior laden with history. The workshop remains in the family under the ownership of Bob Fowlds. Jack Wilkinson, a creative visual designer who had worked in art direction for television as well as in retail design for brands that include Selfridges, envisaged the idea of the café in an upholstery workshop and contacted Bob Fowlds to set up the café in front of the family workshop. They have been sensitive to the upholstering legacy, enriching the workshop with the café, flowers and artwork whilst maintaining much of the workshop’s heritage, including its signage.  

They offer fresh pastries, cakes and bread and daily changing home-cooked seasonal food and from Thursday to Saturday the team open in the evenings to serve bar snacks, craft beers, wine, and cocktails.  

Well known upholster James Fowlds first set up shop in Walworth in 1870 and then alter moved its present location in Camberwell.  

Location

3 Addington Square, SE5 7JZ 

Opening hours

Monday to Friday: 8am-4:30pm
Saturday to Sunday: 8:30am-4:30pm

Kirkdale Bookshop

Kirkdale Bookshop located on 272 Kirkdale, Sydenham, is one of the oldest bookshops in South-East London and has been around for over two decades now. It is a charming community-oriented bookshop that has gradually expanded to two floors over the years and now has an extensive range of new and second-hand books, an engaging children’s section, cards and gifts, and an art gallery- the latter made possible owning to the bookshop’s connections with local artists. This local bookshop is “a combination of award-winning bookshop and cultural hub” – having been awarded best bookshop in the area by Time Out London. If you are unable to find a book you are looking for the staff will order it for you online and can have most books within 24 hours. It also hosts several cultural events including book signings and readings by authors, exhibitions, and children’s events.

Location

272 Kirkdale, Sydenham, SE26 4RS 

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday: 9:30am-5pm
Sunday: closed

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