The seaside towns of Hastings and St Leonards on the south coast of the UK both have a thriving community of independent businesses, with certain streets such as George Street, Norman Road and Kings Road being particularly great spots to focus your shopping trip. When 91 visited we discovered that a number of stores are closed on a Monday, while others opt to take a Tuesday or Wednesday as their day off, so to take full advantage of the selection of great shops, aim to visit at the end of the week or a weekend.
A long time friend of 91, (she took part in our West Elm pop up in 2016) Jacqui Martin opened her petite boutique on George Street in 2017, two years after launching her brand Reste online. Jacqui supports and celebrates indie makers and traditional craftsmanship, and puts a lot of time into finding new designers and makers to stock. The store itself is compact, but beautifully merchandised, with a mainly neutral colour palette and lots of greenery. Ceramics, baskets, textiles, candles, organic skincare and a carefully curated selection of books and magazines (including 91!) fill the shelves, and Jacqui will happily fill you in on the story behind each and every object on display.
Directly opposite Reste you’ll find Butler’s Emporium. This charming lifestyle store was once a hardware shop, and dates back to 1832. What makes this store special is the fact that owner Rose has kept a large proportion of the original fixtures and fittings intact. The weathered timber, peeling paintwork and original cabinets seem to have layers and layers of life within them. Rose utilises these features in how she styles the shop and explains that her taste is eclectic, so there is a real mix of wares, but that all work together, offering shoppers goods for the home as well as skincare products, jewellery and accessories. You can now also purchase a selection of their range online via Trouva.
AG Hendy & Co Homestore
Before continuing along George Street, make sure to take a detour up High Street, as AG Hendy & Co Homestore is not to be missed. This Grade II listed Georgian town house is a sight to behold in itself, with an intriguing history which you can read about in detail on their website. Owner Alastair Hendy brought the building back to life when he took it over in 2008, completely restoring it to it’s former glory after many of it’s original features had been covered up in an attempt to modernise it in the late 20th century. As for what’s on sale, it is a mix of new and vintage homewares with a utilitarian theme tying them together. On the weekends they open their kitchen and dining rooms to serve a menu of mainly seafood, and they also run workshops in cookery, food styling and photography. A truly aspirational lifestyle brand that is accessible and welcoming.
Warp and Weft
Back along George Street, and yet another beautifully styled store, this time with a focus on lovingly-crafted garments. Owner Leida Nassir-Pour has created a stunning space across two floors, again maintaining much of the building’s original features. Warp and Weft’s clothing, footwear and accessories are set against muted tones – whitewashed exposed brick downstairs and earthy, rustic wood upstairs. The emphasis on craftsmanship was brought into focus for us when we were given a peek inside the store’s workshop, where tailor Bret and his colleague Katie were busily constructing bespoke garments for customers via their made to measure service. Attention to detail and passion were clearly evident here, with vignettes of the small selection of home goods carefully styled and the rails of softly neutral garments complementing each other. A space not just for shopping, but for soaking up creativity and serenity.
The Clockwork Crow
Just next door is The Clockwork Crow – a jam-packed emporium of eclectic persuasion. Plants feature heavily, with a number of more unusual varieties creating mini jungle-like scenes around the store. The building was originally a grain mill, and if you weave your way to the back of the shop, you’ll find an intriguing ‘cave-like’ space where you can rummage through a collection of architectural salvage finds, more plants and other unusual objects. Not everything here was my cup of tea, but with such an assortment to explore, there is certainly something for everyone and they cater particularly well for the current boho / global trend in home décor.
There’s no mistaking that dried flowers can be equally as beautiful as their fresh incarnation, and of course longer lasting! The place to go to find an unusual and wide range of dried blooms in S Forrest, also conveniently located on George Street. From classic lavender and hydrangea through to delphiniums and phalaris, the store smells divine and also offers a selection of teas, herbs and spices and some kitchenware items.
There is certainly no chance of plant lovers missing out on their botanical fix when visiting George Street, as yet another shop along this stretch is overflowing with greenery! Rustic scaffold boards, crates and an old workbench hold a variety of houseplants, pots and other plant care necessities in Simply Garden whose aim is to make gardening simple for all. Treat your home to a teeny cactus or go bold with a statement palm.
Dyke and Dean
You could easily fill a whole day wandering the streets of Hastings Old Town, but if you have more time, stroll a little further west where many new businesses are setting up shop. There are still some empty units vacant which crying out for creative types to occupy them. Unfortunately for us, many places are shut on Mondays, one such place being Dyke and Dean, where instead we gazed through the large windows of the former printworks at the stylish counter space, colourful homewares and clever display ideas. Run by Oliver Dean and Eddie Lloyd-Dyke, two product designers, who met while studying at Central St. Martins, the shop stocks a range of contemporary homewares, utilitarian items as well as their own lighting designs.
I’m gonna be honest with you here… we sadly didn’t have time to sample the goods in this Robertson Street café, as we’d spent far too long gabbing with the shopkeepers back in the Old Town and ran out of time! But if the interiors are anything to go by, Cake Room is a place that takes pride in its offering. The tiles, the wallpaper, the plants, the furniture – we loved it all, and it certainly seemed a popular spot with the locals. If anything, it’s worth a visit just to Instagram the interior!
St Leonards Modern Goods
Venture further west yet, and you will arrive in neighbouring St Leonards, where St Leonards Modern Goods is located, set up by “K” Avery-Stallion on Norman Road following a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2016. As well as stocking her own leather goods which she’s been producing for around 8 years, K also stocks a selection of British made clothing and homewares from other independent designers. She also hosts intimate workshops in leather craft on Mondays when the store is usually closed.
Little Mashers on Kings Road is sure to bring a smile to any little ones’ faces who have patiently endured your lifestyle store shopping trip to this point! Filled with fun clothing, kitsch toys, beautiful picture books and colourful kids décor, the shop has been cleverly put together by husband and wife team, Clare and Andrew. Their own clothing range is screen-printed using unique inks including glow in the dark and chalkboard designs, that both kids and parents will love. They also host screen-printing workshops for kids in their studio at the back of the shop, and are part of a kids-focused festival happening in August called Fun House Festival.
Again, we sadly didn’t get a chance to experience this coffee shop – it actually closes at 3pm on Mondays and doesn’t open on Tuesdays, but the rest of the week you can enjoy this light bright café which apparently has a courtyard at the back. Reviews online of this place are very complimentary, so it seems the coffee and food are just as delightful as the interior.
All Photography by: Jemma Watts