Sunday, January 08, 2012

London through its charity shops #17: Tooting

Squinting in one of Tooting's indoor markets we could half-imagine we were in an Istanbul souk. Sort of. Though it lacks the authentic ethnic edge of, say, Dalston, Tooting SW17 still feels a million miles away from, say, Putney (though it in fact only a 270 bus ride away). Tooting may never be cool, also lacking Dalston's hipster quota, but it's a bustling, interesting place with great Indian places to eat along Upper Tooting Road – though I (and Time Out) recommend a tiny Lebanese restaurant called Meza at 34 Trinity Road; booking ahead is essential as there are only five tables in the place.

As well its restaurants and markets, and the clothes shops selling beautiful saris, there are seven charity shops, spread out around Tooting Bec and Broadway tube stations. Our first stop from Tooting Broadway tube was a smart Octavia along Tooting High Street, with a good range of clothes and books. Hidden away under the clothes racks were some records.

Charity shops are usually small, cramped and cluttered. Tooting's Oxfam (pictured above), further along on Upper Tooting Road, is massive but sparse and tatty. With a tiny men's clothes selection versus a huge women's clothes section. And some books.

Wandsworth Oasis Books, opposite Tooting Bec tube on Trinity Road, is very decent. Opposite, and a little further up is another Oasis shop, selling, well, everything apart from books. It's a large space with a fine selection of records and CDs. A little further along is a cluttered and interesting Paws, an animal charity shop, with an upstairs book and records section.

Back to Tooting Broadway and along Mitchum Road, Age UK is small and cramped but has nice stock, including some good art books. There's another Paws just off Mitchum Road on Trinity Road. It's small and cluttered with loads of bric-a-brac and stacks of bad records and, surprisingly, a great selection of CDs. In fact, if post-rock or indie rock is your thing, it's perfect. No Age, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Cat Power, Orange Juice, Dirty Three, Cut Copy... all £2 each. Ergo, my Barngain of the day is the 2CD Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

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