Crouch End

Good for: designer bargains, great menswear and furniture
Shop Count: 12

I am biased, but when I suggested to Alex that we move to Crouch End, unlike most people in the area, it wasn’t for the excellent primary schools. There are charity shops aplenty, a fantastic dress agency and beautiful second-hand furniture to be picked up for very reasonable prices too. I’ve never been so excited by my wardrobe every day (or so addicted to caffeine). So I thought it was only fair Crouch End was one of my first charity shop guides.

A short bus ride up from Finsbury Park on the W7 will leave you on the Broadway, where you can jump straight into bargain heaven in Cancer Research. The rails are pretty full, but it is worth a rummage through them to find labels such as Chloé, Max Mara, Massimo Dutti, Reiss and Whistles. The menswear section is fairly good too, and it’s a good idea to check out the shoe selection too. We’ve found Prada sling backs in there before.

Bearing right at the fork near the clock tower will bring you to the first string of charity shops. Barnado’s on your left often has a menswear selection ripe for picking with brands such as Yohji Yamamoto and Hackett. Alex always tends to out-bargain me here, but the womenswear is definitely worth a look through for upper-end High street brands. I’ve picked up some little bits for the house in there too, particularly kitchenware.

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Stay on this side of the road and continue down until you get to RSPCA, which has a very good menswear section and some superb womenswear if you look hard enough. The prices are also extremely reasonable and often reduced further. C-Potential is a little further up on the same road.

Cross over and stop off for a coffee at Ruby Rose Café, you can recognise the branding on the windows as the original sign above the door has been kept, is a must. Sit upstairs if you can, it’s extremely peaceful and there’s always room for home-made cinnamon swirls and a delicious coffee. They also do very good salads.

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Back towards the clock tower is Children’s Air Ambulance, which is often a little pricier, but has some great high street bargains and is well-organised. They also sell various new homeware and books. Marie Curie is a few shops away, I’ve found Sandro in here before but it’s a little hit-and-miss – worth a rummage, however.

Shelter is a must-visit, the shelves aren’t too jam-packed and are beautifully arranged. Menswear is small but perfectly formed, both Alex and I have found some great items in there from Etro to unused limited edition Converse. The womenswear is often a winner too, with quality items such as Karen Millen, COS, Whistles, Reiss and even brands such as Jil Sander and Max Mara. Last time their footwear was also very good with winter boots in excellent condition from Hobbs and LK Bennett.

North London Hospice is often great for homeware, especially furniture items, and I’ve found lovely items from both Sandro and Maje in the womenswear.

Cross the road at the fork and head to Edith’s Café, my favourite café of the moment, which is fashioned as your grandma’s house, complete with pink-suite bathroom (no avocado) and floral wallpaper. The food, nothing like my grandma’s, is fresh and modern and frankly delicious. There’s also a fabulous selection for the gluten-free among you too – the sweet or savoury pancakes are great.

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Turn left and keep going down towards Park Road. You’ll find Solomon Retro which has, as you would expect, some beautiful furniture pieces including mid-century, Victorian, art-deco from all over Europe. They have some stunning carved wooden church pews in there too that would be a real talking point in any home. A upholstery and restoration service is also offered.

Next door is Little Paris, which has some gorgeous furniture and homeware both new and antique. Through the back room we’ve found vintage star-gazer style lamps, vintage wooden sewing boxes, mid-century storage pieces and petite retro dining tables. They source almost all of their stock from France and they also have a lovely collection of vintage French maps from schools etc around France.

A further few paces and you’ve reach Change of Heart, one of my favourite dress agencies, which is rammed full of every women’s designer label you can think of. Everything is, of course, in perfect condition and often at extremely reasonable prices. I’ve personally bought Victoria Beckham, Mint Velvet, ACNE, Alexander Wang and Stella McCartney in there. The shoe and boot selection is also highly recommended. The ladies who work in there are endlessly helpful and know every item in the store inside out. They also have an tailor they work with who will make any alterations you need at very good prices.

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If you’re feeling up to it, a short walk further down the road is Junk N8 and Disorderly which has a beautiful selection of various pre-loved furniture, we bought a stunning wooden small boy for a very reasonable price that we had converted into a sink for our bathroom. A trip to the shop is a weekend staple for us.