For the best shopping in Hastings, it’s quite simple. Head to the Old Town and start with the High Street and George Street. But first, a spoiler alert. You will not find large department stores and big brand names here. But what you will find is dozens and dozens of fabulously quirky and very individual independent shops and boutiques. This is a real community and you’ll find everything your heart could desire from vintage clothing to unusual interiors, fabrics, chocolate, pirates in a jar, local craft rum, books, jewellery, and all sorts of things you never knew you wanted. So much so in fact, that it’s hard to know where to start. I can’t list them all (there are just too many) but here are some of my favourite shops in Hastings Old Town.
Fabrics, wallpaper and gifts
I dived into Vintage Bird in the High Street because I am a sucker for a bright pattern, and the delicious selection of patterned cushions and rolls of gorgeous fabric were calling my name. There are two floors to explore and Claire is on hand to help with samples, measures, quotes and interior styling. While I was browsing, I fell into conversation with a lady called Lindsay Wright, and that took me to…
Bath and beauty
Lindsay is a co-founder of Rock Rose Beauty which is an online range of Rock Rose oil products particularly beneficial for mature skin and dealing with the effects of menopause and ageing. They are made in Hastings from 100% natural ingredients, using quality, organic essential oils, using minimal packaging, and encouraging the reusing and recycling of materials whenever possible. Lindsay’s story is an inspiring one but that’s for another day.
If you’re in Hastings Old Town, Soak is in George Street and stocks Rock Rose products as well as products by lots of other local makers of soap, toiletries, and candles like the Hastings Soap Company.
Bakes, cakes and chocolates
No shopping trip is ever complete without a trip to the deli or baker and in the High Street, you’ll find Penbuckles Delicatessen, home to lots of local artisan cheeses, charcuterie and wines. Next door is Judges Bakery. Hastings folk were queuing out of the door here and I am not surprised, because they have a mouthwatering range of artisan breads, cakes and bakes.
Round the corner in George Street, in Only Coco you’ll find row upon row of quality artisan Sussex chocolates, as well as some local craft rum and gin!
Pots and pans
Just off the High Street (in Courthouse Street) is Old Hastings Pottery, where all the items are handmade on site and the potter is available to talk you through the different items. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, almost opposite is the Courthouse Cooperative, a cornucopia of second-hand items of every description!
Bikes and bells
There is a lot to see and do in Hastings, and what better way to explore than by bike? And as luck would have it, in George Street, you’ll find award-winning Bell’s where you can hire beautiful, easy-to-ride and simple-to-maintain bikes!
Frocks and socks
There are dozens of fabulous vintage fashion stores in the Old Town, like the Wardrobe Clothes Agency Boutique, and you’ll find designer pieces, one-off items, bags, frocks, hats, shoes and amazing bargains. What a great opportunity to re-use and enjoy a thoroughly good rummage.
Interiors, antiques and brocante
Talking of rummaging, there are also dozens of antique, interiors and brocante shops in the Old Town. I found everything from old typewriters (in the Goods Depot at the top end of the High Street), to quirky pottery and pictures (Butler and George in George Street – with the snake crawling up the outside) to beautiful sustainable living products (Reste in the High Street) and pretty much everything else at stores like the Hastings Antiques Warehouse and Roberts Rummage (also in the High Street).
A little bit of everything
The Clockwork Crow has a little bit of everything from houseplants, to antiques and some lovely fabrics. Turn the Tide not only have more craft rum but also stock items from over 60 local artisans and makers and you can take your favourite quirky item and they’ll repurpose it into a lamp! You’ll also find vintage new jewellery in the Old Town. leather items, a couple of Moroccan stores, and even a pipe shop as well as pirates in a jar and the odd pirates’ pistol!
Books and strange tales
From stacks of old comics to a bookshop that turns into a Thai restaurant and Hare and Hawthorn, you’ll also find a handful of independent bookshops in the Old Town where you can lose yourself for hours!
Flora and fauna
From the Shirley Leaf and Petal Company’s museum of flower making to Shimizu flowers, there is also plenty here for the green-fingered amongst you.
The best shop front
Having a legal background, over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of solicitors and it’s fair to say I have visited some quite extraordinary legal premises. And OK, so this is not a shop, but my all-time favorite solicitors’ office now has to be Funnell & Perring who have had to put a sign up in the window explaining they are actually a firm of solicitors.
I can’t list all the fabulous shops you’ll find in the Old Town. But, if you want lots and lots of independent shops, that stock local produce and support local producers, as well as doing their bit to recycle, reuse and minimise their carbon footprint, all with a real sense of community, this is the place for you. It’s compact, bohemian, it has a great sense of fun and even the buildings have their own story to tell. And it definitely skyrockets Hastings into one of my favourite places to shop!
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