Best shops in Hastings and St Leonards

Aaah…shopping. One of Battleaxe’s favourite occupations, and one of the joys of living round here, because we have so many independent shops. Clothes, shoes, junk and antiques, vintage and retro, art, bits and pieces – I love them all.  Firstly, look at my Golden Rules for running successful small shops on Bombastic Battleaxe.  I found it hard to rank the shops I chose to include, so I’ll just start with the Old Town High Street, and then move along to St Leonard’s. Not so many there, partly because  I am leaving antique/junk places and galleries for a future exercise, but also, many shops come and go quickly. Could it be that they are not following the Golden Rules?

Made In Hastings – Old Town High Street
Run by, and showcases work from, a group of local artists and makers – I particularly like painter Claire Fletcher, and potter Judith Rowe. Shop is attractively laid out, interesting to browse in and always smells nice – lavender, I think. Staff are always welcoming – usually, they are the people who make the stuff. However, some of their prices are a tiny bit high for too much impulse buying – but then, some items are serious art.


Vintage Bird – Old Town High Street
Fabulous fabrics, many retro themed. Great display. Not ideal for browsing, though

Hendy’s Home Store – Old Town High Street
I debated with myself about including this – Philosopher says it is ‘wholly artificial’. So it is, and it is very fogey-ish, but all our visitors really love to browse in it, and the pleasant staff always seem happy to show it off as a living museum. Don’t miss the amazing loo on the half-landing. Some of the prices are eye-watering. I have never bought anything as yet, but I do hopefully fondle the lovely brushes every time I go in….

Little Treasures – Old Town High Street
Primarily vintage, but new stuff also, including lovely lampshades.  A jam-packed little shop – a bit hard to access on busy days, but always bright and cheerful, and a good range of quirky things. Very good web site.


Judge’s Bakery – Old Town High Street
A Hastings institution. I am unfortunately addicted to their macaroons.  Some of their bread is a bit serious – weighs a ton and costs a bomb.

Wardrobe – Old Town High Street
Excellent vintage store and high-end dress exchange. Usually has lovely window displays. Stock is well displayed and accessible, prices are realistic.

The Lilac Room – George Street
One of my most favourite-ever clothes shops. They stock a good range of labels including Bohemia, Great Plains, Nice Things. Plenty of browsing room, lots of little things, too, jewels, purses, all at impulse-buy prices. Staff are very friendly and welcoming. No website though….

The Tablet Gallery – George Street
Hastings has many shops selling knick-knacks and gifts, but I think this is the best. As well as the owner’s photographs, this little shop has the most amazing range of affordable, quirky stuff. It has things that light up,whirl, flash and jiggle, lots of sea-sidy stuff, and when I last looked, some really rude cards that are kept in ‘modesty’ sleeves.

The Oxfam Book Shop – Queens Road
This is the only charity shop in the selection.  Apart from Waterstones, Hastings is not at all well-off for bookshops. Boulevard Books in the Old Town is now primarily a Thai restaurant, and its neighbour, Albion Books, is unfortunately too chaotic and only sells second-hand paperbacks.  There is an even more chaotic place in London Road, St. Leonard’s. Amazing stock but far too daunting. The little Oxfam book shop looks a bit run down like most of Queens Road, but it is a delight – pleasant staff and always interesting books to browse.

Nameless vintage shop – Grand Parade St Leonard’s
 Just by Smiths Cafe, this shop has really excellent prices – so many vintage/retro shops are very expensive. Some of the stock is a little grungy, and the shop is a bit dark, but it is well worth foraging for a bargain.  They sell textiles and nice stuff like 70s German vases as well as clothes.

Shop – Norman Road
This is a spacious department store-type enterprise, selling vintage/retro, bags, crafts, gifts, clothes etc. It also has an excellent tea-room on site – and a toilet!  Very good selection of stuff in relaxed, comfortable environment.  Prices not the lowest but it is easy to find affordable items. Helpful staff.

Who’s Wearing What – London Road
This is quite a new shop, but the owners have run pop-up shops around the area for some time.  This is easily the most ‘high-end’ of the shops in this list, in fact probably the most high-end in the town. It does have some really lovely, stylish, individual clothes, as well as affordable accessories. Shops like this can easily be daunting for the casual shopper. We have been in three times so far – on two occasions a really pleasant and helpful lady made us feel welcome, but one time a different person was talking with her friends and ignored us totally.

     I think that is enough for now.  Many lovely little places have been missed out because the list would get too long or I don’t have the right interests – for example, there are some great dog shops, such as Barkers-on-Sea in London Road, art shops, like in King’s Road, vintage haberdashery shops, angling shops, ‘sumptuous’ interiors shops like Roomings in George Street – I nearly included that, but I just don’t do enough swags and drapes….foodie shops, and what about hardware, like Winchesters in Ore?

For May 2014 up-date, see this post.


  1. Stephen
    September 18, 2013 / 5:25 am

    Hi Stephanie! Thanks very much for your nice comments about the Oxfam Bookshop. I noticed it earlier this year and showed the other volunteers. I expect by now you will know that we have closed down. Despite our sales increasing every year, the lease expired and the decision was made not to renew it. It was a sad day when we closed the shop for the last time and I don't know where our customers will go now. You might like to know that I discovered an old scrap book in the office with many press cuttings about the shop/s dating back to 1968 and will be doing a website tracing the history of Oxfam in the town right up to the present. It's not "live" yet and may take me a few months to put together but its coming! Best wishes, Stephen

  2. Stephanie Gaunt
    September 18, 2013 / 7:14 am

    I am very sorry to read this. As you say, what are we now to do for a second hand bookshop in Hastings? Many other towns have thriving Oxfam bookshops, why not us?

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