By Jennifer Barton
FARA’s charity shops for kids are scattered across southwest London. If you stumble upon one, do enter – most of the destinations have achieved celebrity status among parents and their children.
You see, not only does shopping at FARA tick the box of doing good – proceeds go to support the work of FARA, which helps to fund family support, community-based education, and care programmes for Romania’s vulnerable children and adults – but you’re liable to find designer kids’ clothes, top-of-the-range toys and even brand-new gems at a fraction of the original price.
Case in point? We’ve snagged a reversible Stella McCartney wool cape there for £6, a Gucci printed silk dress for £20, a KidKraft play kitchen for a tenner (added bonus: it was already assembled), patent leather Dr. Martens for £12 and never-worn Heelys for £15.
FARA fits into most parents’ current shopping mood: buy less, buy sustainably, buy quality, buy secondhand (although there are lots of new items which work well as gifts for birthday parties).
In response to high demand, the Northcote Road outpost has recently revamped into two separate stores catering to kids.
One is a standalone bookshop on the corner of Chatham Road and Northcote Road, and it’s one of the most brilliantly – and beautifully – curated shops you’ll find for kids in London, with hundreds of books for children of all ages and pleasing Quentin Blake wallpaper.
We’re talking board books, picture books, first reader books, chapter books, classic kids’ authors like Roald Dahl, David Walliams, J.K. Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson and much more (helpfully, they often have several editions of favourites like The Midnight Gang, so you can get one for your kid AND one for the friend you’ve brought along because you can’t stop talking about how incredible the space is).
There are even foreign language books, history books, reference books, YA fiction… and it’s organised so meticulously, you’ll find separate sections for Mr. Men and Little Miss books, fairytales, princess stories, Horrid Henry and more. With each book typically costing £2 to £4, buying new (old) reading material has never been such fun.
The new FARA Kids clothing and toy store is two blocks away on Northcote Road, and if you didn’t know you were entering a charity shop, the stylish window display (currently featuring an Elsa-style figure, complete with velvet cape and fur), certainly wouldn’t give it away.
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Every child is catered for: babies, boys and girls sized up to 16, and there’s even footwear and accessories, ranging from winter warmers to swimwear. You’ll also find every toy you can think of: jumperoos, walkers, doll’s houses, Sylvanians, giant soft toys, puzzles, trucks, buggies, dolls, garages, scooters and more. If you’re looking for something specific, check in on a regular basis; in all likelihood, it will turn up within a few weeks. Come holidays, there are always festive items like Halloween costumes or Christmas jumpers.
The downstairs area is devoted to larger furniture pieces to kit out the nursery, as well as buggies.
As you can probably guess, we think both shops are well worth a visit (this is an opinion shared by numerous mum friends, who live abroad or on the opposite side of London but insist on making the pilgrimage to Clapham to check out the local wares).
Occasionally, some prices seem odd – a Zara top for a tenner, while the designer piece next to it is just a few quid more – but mostly, you’ll score a great deal. The staff members are helpful when it comes to letting customers know if a piece is missing in a Lego set or if a battery-operated toy no longer works.
In between the kids’ shops you’ll also find a FARA catering to grown-ups, which also has designer brands and an easy-on-the-eyes layout (clothes are colour-coded). In fact, it might remind you of that other London designer vintage retail gem, Retromania. Makes sense – the FARA team runs that, too.
FARA Clapham Kids Books, 74 Chatham Road, London, SW11 6HG
FARA Clapham Kids, 144 Northcote Road, London SW11 6RD