Tag Archives: briXmas

Why #shoplocal this BriXmas

Xmas satire

There’s a picture going around on the internet showing Santa Claus in full regalia, pushing his sleigh filled with presents into a landfill, and the workers looking on comment: “He’s cutting out the middle man.” A bit harsh? Christmas is without a doubt the most wasteful time of the year, in terms of time and money, but also actual physical waste. The pressure to buy is enormous, to the extent that it’s near impossible to avoid. Try suggesting to your family that instead of gifts you’d like to receive donations to a charity of your choice this year, and they will probably be somewhere between bewildered and offended.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We shape the customs we follow, and more and more people every year are opposing the mindless consumerism promoted by the media from the start of October. On the one hand, Black Friday’s shopping craze seems to affect the UK more and more each year, but on the other there are campaigns like Amazon Anonymous, asking people to not use Amazon until they pay their workers a fair wage, which already attracted so many sign ups that an estimate of the money NOT spent on Amazon this Christmas is currently £2,592,570.

There’s other ways than boycott: in Brixton, every year people are pledging to shop locally, supporting independent businesses and reducing their carbon footprint. According to research, money spent locally will circulate in the local economy up to three times longer than money spent in big chains. And if products are sourced and made locally, the environmental impact is significantly lessened. If that sounds a bit academic, there are many others reasons why Brixtonites have chosen to make their Christmases Brixton-focused. Shopping locally gives residents an opportunity to find food and gifts that are unique to their area – it’s opportunity to discover the wealth and quality of what we have on our doorstep, and what we may miss in busy everyday lives. People are consciously making the decision to think about where their money is going, and to support their local community – to take from it but also give something back. Shopping in smaller shops is also a more personal experience. Overall, it seems like a great way to do some good deeds, enrich our lives as well as those of others – in a time when that message is often obscured by corporate interests.

This post was written for and appeared in the December issue of the Brixton Bugle – get your copy if you’ve not got one yet!

Brixton Bugle


12 Days of #BriXmas gift guide by Kaylene

This is a guest post by Kaylene Alder, a freelance illustrator and screen printer living and working in Brixton. She is a frequent contributor to the Brixton Blog and Bugle, so you have probably already seen some of her work! She also illustrated Miss South‘s Recipes from Brixton Village, and sells prints and cards on Makerhood, in her Etsy shop, Studio 73 in Brixton Village and Diverse Gifts. Kaylene is open to any and all illustrative projects – get in touch with her if you want some drawings!


So I should say, before I begin, that this was a tricky tricky task.  There are SO many lovely shops and things in Brixton that narrowing it down to 5 was most challenging.

Anyway, I digress, here are the gifts for I would buy for folks I like with my shiny shiny Brixton pounds…

Bamboo Socks

Ok, I know, socks for Christmas – not generally thought of as awesome… but these are BAMBOO socks.  They are like hugs for your feet! Warm in the winter, cool in the summer… I could go on.  In aces patterns and colours, these delights by Braintree Clothing can be purchased for your Brixton Pounds at The Keep for £4.90 each or 3 pairs for £12.00.

32/33 Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, London, SW9 8PR


Something framed from Studio 73.  

With all manner of amazing originals and prints by local artists and an in-house framing service, giving the gift of art is made properly special by Adrian and his lovely team.  A3 frames start from £29.

73 Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, London, SW9 8PS


Hammer Necklace

This beautiful silver and walnut hammer pendant necklace is made by Daniel Darby can be found at Brixi and bought for someone who is tough and delicate and deserving for £110.

Unit 7 Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, London, SW9 8PR


Toy Train

I find it tricky to resist the nostalgia of wooden toys.  This toy train made from bobbins and other machinery parts from former weaving mills in the north of England can be found at Diverse, amongst loads of other good stuff.  It’s £45 but will be around for generations of littlees.

Diverse, 390 Coldharbour Lane, London, SW9 8LF


Genesis Equilibrium

While I was imaginary shopping with an imaginary budget, I thought ‘Why not go all out?’ Look! She’s pretty and shiny and Christmassy green! And she’s on sale, down from £1100 to £935.  But think of the savings on petrol! And the environment! And the health of the lucky recipient! You can pick her up at Brixton Cycles where the lovely, approachable, deeply honest staff can tell you all about the technical ace-ness of this bike and not just about how shiny she is. If you don’t happen to have an imaginary budget, they do have two-wheelers which are lower in price.

Brixton Cycles, 145 Stockwell Rd, London SW9 9TN



Thanks Kaylene for this great gift guide! For more gift guides and other festive content keep an eye on our blog – we’ll be posting every day for 12 days of #BriXmas (that’s a whole 8 left!)

Meet the User – #BriXmas competition winner Paul


Paul Melbourne, who got 20 of his friends to sign up for pay-by-text B£ accounts in November, was consequently the winner of our #BriXmas competition, and received B£250 to spend during one Saturday – and not just any Saturday! 6th December was officially Small Business Saturday – though if you’re using B£, every day is Support Your Local Independents day.

Paul says there wasn’t a particular secret to his successful sign-up approach – he didn’t promise his friends any perks or parts of his winnings. “I like a competition! For this one, you had to put a bit more effort in, so I was emailing and texting friends, sending them Facebook messages – everyone who lived around this area, so that setting up an account wouldn’t just be for the competition, but useful for them as well. It’s really easy to sign up, you just need your name and phone number and you’re pretty much good to go, so people just did!”

Paul first signed up himself about a year ago, but has always just used paper B£, so this was his first time spending by text. We met at Rosie’s for a coffee, and he was very surprised that when he paid, the waitress barely looked at his phone to check. That’s the special B£ trust to you! “I’ve definitely given the paper notes as gifts. When my friends were getting married recently and asked for cash, I gave them B£s – it’s nicer that way, a bit more personal, and they’ll be able to come to Brixton and have a good meal.” Paul’s wife Lindsay joined us later in the day, and said she also gifted B£s recently to her friend’s newborn: “Baby’s first Brixton Pounds!” Saturday was an opportunity to buy gifts for family and friends too. Paul said he doesn’t always buy friends birthday gifts: “Usually it’s just a pint! So though I didn’t offer them anything for signing up, I’m buying a few friends birthday gifts today.” 20 Storey was offering a special Small Business Saturday 20% discount to B£ users, so Paul picked up a few items there, and also went into The Turpentine for a few more gifts.

Marta from B£ looking at some 20% off Hirst

@gavinfreeborn https://freebornphotography.wordpress.com 
Marta from B£ looking at some 20% off Hirst

Paul lives in Crystal Palace and works in Brixton. He’s been in London for 6 years, and always around this area. He’s been coming to Brixton even before that, mostly for gigs. He first moved into a room a friend had going in Tulse Hill. Now him and his wife are buying their first flat in Crystal Palace, so on Saturday they were looking for things for their new home – the enamelled plates and pots in Cornercopia were a great choice.

Actually, it's Bring Your Own Soundsystem Saturday!

@gavinfreeborn https://freebornphotography.wordpress.comActually, it’s Bring Your Own Soundsystem Saturday!

Paul often wanders around Brixton at lunchtime, on his break. “Before I worked in Victoria. There’s lots of big office buildings, but absolutely no character, so you go on your lunch break and there’s just chains. Here I can roll around for an hour, it’s got character and a good mix of people. Bushman Cafe is always good for lunch, although you have to come in early because they sell out! And have you been to the jacket potato place opposite Rosie’s? It’s fairly new, has only been there for a month or two, but they’re great jacket potatoes and that’s exactly what I wanted to find around here. They have some great fillings: jerk chicken, vegetables. And it’s also a record shop! There are a lot of places for eating – so many good restaurants. Franco Manca, The Joint. I always say I want to go somewhere new, but end up in the same places because I like them so much. I go to 20 Storey for every birthday ever – I can get a good gift for less than B£10. Oh, and Barber de Seville – I cut my own hair, but about once a year it needs tidying up, and that’s where I go. I didn’t know before there are so many places that take B£s. Now I had a chance to find out because of this competition, I’ll definitely start using it more. I’ll chuck B£50 into my account every month and keep spending locally.”

Paul’s a busy man: he works as a fundraising manager for Housing For Women, a small charity which shares a building with Lambeth Council opposite the Brixton Academy. It provides homes and support for London’s women with the greatest need, and its roots go back to the suffragette movement. Paul and Lindsay are also the publishers of The Unofficial Crystal Palace Calendar, a wall calendar for 2015 where each photo represents something meaningful for the local community:

“We’ve been living in Crystal Palace for a while now and just love it, not just how much there is to do to but the real community feel there is here so we wanted to create a calendar that didn’t just capture the really nice bits of the area (the amazing park, the dinosaurs, the famous transmitter), but also the things that we love about the area, familiar faces and some of the funny stories which have come out of the Crystal Palace Local Facebook group.”

If you live in Crystal Palace, you don’t have to pay for postage – Paul will deliver the calendar on his bike! And if that wasn’t enough for the power couple, they are also launching a food business: Get Wurst, selling bratwurst and curry wurst to hungry South Londoners. “Just today I couldn’t come down earlier because we were at the Crystal Palace food market – I still left early, Lindsay had to finish off.” The official launch is happening on Friday at the Windmill, Paul’s favourite venue: “I love the Windmill, I’m always up for a night out there!” They know Seamus, the owner, and are fans of the Windmill’s own beer Roof Dog. This Friday, Lindsay’s indie band Listening Party are playing their last ever gig, and she has also designed a tropical photo booth for the Windmill’s guests. And then on Saturday they’re wursting at the Gypsy Hill Brewing Co.’s Xmas party. Talk about busy!

“It’s been a really exciting year for me. I got married, bought a house, won a bunch of B£s!” Paul has asked not to reveal what gifts he bought, not to spoil the surprise for his friends and family, but thanks to local photographer Gavin Freeborn we’ve got a few snaps of him on Saturday, spending his prize money and supporting Brixton’s independent businesses. Him and his wife also enjoyed a few drinks at Three Eight Four (with 15% discount!) and some food at Bukowski Grill. Paul tweeted in the evening with a photo of his shopping bags:

#YourPound: Meet the Trader – Love Cats

Max 2

Love Cats loves your cats (and other small pets) when you can’t, arranging regular, trustworthy and affordable care for them. Victoria set up the business in 2011 after being made redundant. “I wanted to do something!” she says. 4 years and 4 Christmases on, the team of ‘cat servants’ has grown to 4 people who cover most of South London.

Rufus    Max 1

When you’re away for the weekend, on a business trip or on holiday, Victoria, Pamela, Elaine or Jane who still volunteer as cat socialisers at a well-known local cats home as well as being professional pet sitters, will regularly visit your cat in its own home. “We really believe that cats feel much better in their own environment. They need routine, and no matter how friendly catteries might be, there’s always an unfamiliar cage,” says Victoria. Before your holiday, the Love Cats team will take the time to meet you and your cat to understand any particular traits, and then drop in to check on your cat each day for at least 20-30 minutes – enough to feed the cat, refill its water supply, check for any signs of ill health, and if the cat requires it – also cuddles. “Some cats are OK on their own, but some really need cuddles, and we are all dedicated cat lovers so can definitely give them that! We always try to get to know each cat and its individual routine and needs.”


Victoria and her dedicated team members have many years’ experience with hundreds of cats and small animals, have CRB checks and insurance, as well as access to 24/7 veterinary care. “It’s a lot of responsibility – taking care of someone’s cat, but also being a spare key holder! Sometimes people call us because they’ve locked themselves out – it’s an additional service we can provide,” smiles Victoria.

Chi sunbathe

They come highly recommended too. Mark, from Brixton, says:

“The Love Cats came to check on Genghis while I was away and he seemed very happy with the service.  They came round to meet him first to check they got on, and it was all very easy to arrange.  It’s a great service and also means someone is checking on your home each day while you are away.”

Maisy     Gilbert foot rub

Her and most of her cat staff have other jobs, Love Cats being, as the name indicates, a labour of love. Elaine is an ex-dancer and pilates teacher, Jane an accountant in the City who decided to take it more easy, and Pamela a retired social worker.

PamelaPamela is Love Cats’ Brixton connection. She’s lived in the area for 8 years, and as a gardener and cat sitter had been involved in LETS – Local Economy Trading Scheme, a system of exchange which existed before the Brixton Pound. During Easter 2012 she joined Victoria at Love Cats and though she still does a bit of gardening, taking care of cats actually became her main job. She sometimes sees as many as 10 cats a day! With a minimum of 20 minutes per visit, that’s quite a lot – but Pamela saves a lot of time by cycling everywhere (and only occasionally getting the train uphill to get to Gypsy Hill).

Pamela really likes Brockwell Park, and lives so close she can see it from her neighbour’s window. She likes the fact she can buy groceries and essentials with B£s – she shops at Nour Cash & Carry and Brixton Whole Foods, and has the occasional cupcake from Ms Cupcake as the location is in between two cat sitting appointments. She says: “It’s the perfect job for me – I can do knitting, I can read a book, even have a snooze if I want to – the cats are happy with that! All I need to do is make sure they’re well, feed them, change the litter, and play with them. I absolutely adore old cats, there is just something great about them. My own, Pudding, is 18 now. Love Cats take care of Pudding when I’m away. We look after other small animals, too – I once had a bearded dragon in my care! – but we’re really cat specialists. Cats are a bit hard to read, you have to observe them very carefully. Sometimes you can tell something’s up just by the way they move their tails – you have to understand their behaviour.” In her whole cat sitting career with Love Cats, Pamela has never had to actually take a cat to the vet, only sometimes call to get some advice – which must mean the cats are in very safe and competent hands.

Merlin    Sonny

Many requests come around Christmas time, and Love Cats even work on Christmas Day! “We try to never turn anyone down,” assures Victoria, though she admits last minute requests can be more difficult to accommodate. So if you’re planning to leave for the holiday season and have a cat or small pet, get in touch with Love Cats now to make sure they have a wonderful Christmas. Registration is free, and if you’re paying in B£, you’ll get 10% off your first booking!

Bramble tickle

Photo of Pamela at Rosie’s Deli Cafe by Marta Owczarek

All other photos by Love Cats, starring: Max, Rufus, Max again, Melodie, Chi Chi (Victoria’s cat), Maisy, Gilbert, Merlin, Sonny, and Bramble

#YourPound: Meet The User – Manda

If you picked up a copy of the Brixton Bugle this weekend, you will have already met Manda, B£ user who told us why she did her #BriXmas shopping in B£, and plans to #shoplocal again this year. If you’re a bit stuck for ideas, keep an eye on our blog this month – we’ll be posting some gift guides to help you out!

Over the last year and a half we’ve been introducing you to our traders – independent business owners who are part of the Brixton Pound family. In this new series we’d like to introduce you to the members of the community who are just as significant: the Brixton Pound users! In the previous months Paul wrote us a guest post, we had a chance to meet Alicia, and today we bring you a special BriXmas themed guest blog from Manda!




I can’t remember why I started using the B£. I think it was because there was a lot of stuff on Twitter about ‘shopping local’  – and that gave me an idea for a ‘theme’ for my Christmas present-buying.  These days, Christmas seems more and more absurd in our family – call me churlish, but every year we spend money we haven’t really got on things that people don’t really want and it seems like a terrible waste of love, money and time. Not to mention the carbon footprint, and lining the pockets of corporate greed.

So what better than to give presents bought locally and, in doing so, support local independent retailers! Then at least somebody benefits!

To my delight, I also discovered that B£ notes are really cool. Especially the B£10 David Bowie ones.

To get my Brixton £££s I had to go to Morley’s menswear department (yes, this is where Google directed me) where I changed about £100 at the till. Armed with my colourful notes I set off for Brixton Village. My house got decorated with pom-poms from Circus, my nieces were given enamelled beakers from Cornercopia, my nephew got a moleskin notebook from Malika and my sister some 70’s vinyl from United 80. (My Dad was a bit more tricky so I got him a book from W H Smith – well, it is in Brixton…) I also used the text method to pay for gifts from my B£ account – many Brixton shops now allow this. I did it at 20 Storey in Brixton Village where I got some funky gifts for friends.

I also got lucky with a B£ Twitter campaign: every day in December a B£ note was hidden in a different shop in Brixton Village. I happened to find a tenner in Rose & Thorn while I was trying on a dress – hey, this B£ thing is fun!

Since then I have set up a direct debit so every month £5 is credited to my B£ account. Watch out family, Brixton presents will be coming your way again this Christmas!

Manda Glanfield


Would you like to be featured in our next Meet The User post? We could meet you for a chat over lunch or tea/coffee, or you could write us a guest blog. Drop us a line at info@brixtonpound.org!

#BriXmas delivery dates

The fortunate Brixtonites who can get the snazzy paper B£s every day from our Issuing Points don’t have to worry about this, but if you live outside of Brixton, or if you’d simply rather order some crisp, uncirculated collector’s notes as gifts to yourself or your loved ones, this is an important announcement!

The last days to order paper notes from our Shop for Christmas delivery, as announced by the Post Office, are:

4th December – if you live in Australia

9th December – if you live in Canada

12th December – if you live in the USA

13th December – if you live in Europe

18th December – if you live in the UK

Those are the final days for delivery, so wherever you live, order sooner rather than later!

Have a David Bowie fan in the family? Definitely give them a B£ tenner; our Shop is right here.

Happy #BriXmas!



#YourPound: Meet the Trader – Brixton Brewery

Brixton Brewery

Brixton Brewery launched in August last year, after years of careful planning. It occupies two railway arches on Brixton Station Road – one for storage, the other where all the brewing, bottling, labelling takes place and which opens on Saturdays to serve the Brixton public.


BB co-founder Jez invites us over, but warns to dress warmly because the units are rather cold on weekdays. We end up sitting in his car, where he tells the Brixton Brewery story:

“I moved to Brixton in 2006 when I bought a flat on Saltoun Road, where the Black Cultural Archives are on the corner. Mike, the co-founder, also bought a flat across the road around the same time. It took a couple of years before we met, because in London people don’t talk to each other, you don’t generally know your neighbours. Then we both had kids at the same time, and my wife and Mike’s girlfriend got talking. That’s how we became friends. Then one day we were having a drink in Hive Bar, now The Craft Beer Co., and got the idea to start our own brewery. We had no idea about brewing! But we knew Brixton and thought it deserved its own.

We started home brewing in Mike’s kitchen. We bought the books and brewed the early versions of our beers. But we had young families to support, so couldn’t just give up our jobs. So we sent Mike’s girlfriend on a 3 day course to Sunderland to learn how to brew, and naively thought she could do all the brewing for us. Only afterwards did we realise we needed someone who had more time and more than a few days’ experience, and so we found Dominic, who’s now our Head Brewer. He was a fresh graduate from a brewing masters course, had some experience working in breweries, and above all, agreed to work for one which didn’t even exist yet.

IMG_3793       IMG_3789

It was important for us to be in the heart of Brixton, and we wanted our customers to be predominantly local businesses, so we were very happy we found the railway arch. We went round talking to traders and got started. But we were essentially opening a factory, so it was a bit daunting. The Brixton Pound actually helped us a lot – around that time you ran a workshop on how to start a food business, with Ms Cupcake, Ossie, Liam from 7 @ Brixton, and Anne from Cornercopia. It was great to meet people who had had an idea and made it successful, and learn how to deal with permissions and red tape.

We had two launch parties in October last year – one actually at Craft Beer Co., where it all started in 2011. I made a little speech. Then we held a party at the arch, and at 5pm we ran out of draught beer! We knew then that we were doing something right.


We started off with three beers: Reliance Pale Ale, Effra Ale, Electric IPA, and now have two more Brixton-inspired ones: Windrush Stout and Atlantic APA. We also make a Mexican-inspired beer for DF / Mexico, a restaurant in East London, whose owners now opened Brixton Wahaca, and it is also served there. It’s called Lupulo – it’s the Spanish word for hops.

Visiting Brixton Brewery

A video posted by Brixton Pound (@brixtonpound) on

But it was Brixtonites who supported us from day one, businesses and customers alike. They had faith in us, and they are still supporting us. Our first ever delivery was to Market Row Wines: Dave is a smart guy and ordered 15 crates straight away, knowing they would sell quickly, we just prayed they would!

We’re located very centrally in Brixton and that’s great – we do most of our deliveries with a simple trolley. Beer tastes so much better when it’s fresh – just like other things, bread, fruit and vegetables.. And the traders can tell the customers they are drinking a beer that’s been brewed only a couple hundred meters away – it’s a rarity.

The business still runs like a proper family business and everybody lends a hand – we have to do more with less. My wife is doing orders and deliveries, Mike’s partner social media and the website.


On Friday we brewed for the 100th time – it’s a big milestone for any brewery! And it’s a special edition one – a double IPA. It will be stronger and hoppier and more bitter – we’re calling it MegaWatt IIPA, and will be launching it at our Xmas party on 13th December with a special bottle and label – we want people to take the bottle home and keep as a souvenir. It is inspired by the spiritual candles you see in the market – our designer and I just bought three this morning to serve as inspiration. All our labels are inspired by Brixton: local landmarks and African fabric prints. I feel inspired and motivated by Brixton. It has always been at the forefront of the local independent business movement. For us, everything just came together. I’m not particularly religious, but it was like all the signs were pointing at this, calling us towards it, “come on guys, you’ve got to do it!” And we made the right judgement. The reaction we’ve had has been great, we quickly got recognised in Brixton but also in London. We’re starting to supply outside of Brixton, mainly to other areas of South London, but we’re not producing a huge amount, and I like the idea of a regional, local brewery. It’s a great feeling going around the market and seeing people drinking our beers – every time I scratch my head and think, they must actually like it!”

BriXmas #bonus is coming!


It’s beginning to look like…


…you can win B£250 this BriXmas!


Our November #brixtonbonus gives everyone a chance to win a load of cash, which you can spend during Small Business Saturday, 6th December 2014. Plenty of Brixton independent businesses will be in their full Xmas swing by then, and with B£250, you can get stuff for all your loved ones (look out for our gift guides, coming soon!), and treat yourself, too! Over 250 businesses accept B£s: cafes, bars, restaurants, delis, gift shops, boutiques – and many will be offering special Xmas items and deals.

Sounds great, doesn’t it! Here’s all you have to do: get as many of your friends, colleagues, neighbours, family members – whoever, really! – signed up for a free pay-by-text B£ account. The person who gets the most sign ups WINS, and gets to be the Queen/King/Royal Person of Brixton for a day.

Competition closes at 10am on 2nd December, so get talking to your friends NOW! Send us an email each time one of your people signs up, we’ll keep a count of the sign ups and announce a winner at 5pm on Tuesday 2nd December. Good luck!