Even though it's been trading since 1870, I stumbled across Gardners in the East End of London for the first time just a few months ago. I was so taken with it I returned last week with camera in hand.
Paul Gardner must be the nicest man in carrier bags, his unique 'paper' shop has been in the same family for almost 150 years. His great grandfather James originally opened the business which specialised in scale repairs, catering for market traders working in and around Spitalfields at the time.
Four generations later and bags are now the main attraction. When Paul took over the reins back in 1972 there were just two types available – brown or white. Today he stocks over 40 different styles, but you'll be comforted to know that the good old brown paper bag is still his best seller. Simplicity never goes out of fashion does it? Everything looks good in a brown paper bag; apples, oranges, expensive stationery, my head.
So Paul Gardner we salute you and your brilliant, eccentric and extremely useful shop.
Gardners, 149 Commercial Street, London, E1 6BJ. Tel: 020 7247 5119. Open: Mon-Fri 6.30am – 2.30pm