Tag Archives: Shopping

The British Boot Company

Recently, I found myself visiting my 101-year-old uncle who lives in a beautiful part of London near Regent’s Park. He has lived in a very groovy, government assisted place for many years. The last time that I was there, I got to follow him on his daily routine. Every day he takes his scooter and goes shopping down by Camden Town. Camden Town is in north London and is not far from the fabulous Camden Market and Camden Locks and close to the London Zoo.

We ended up in a local shoe shop by Camden Town called the British Boot Company. It was then that my uncle revealed that above this fairly unique shoe shop is where he, my dad, their siblings, and their parents, were born and grew up. This shoe shop is even well-known for being one of the first shops to ever sell Doc Martens. Today they focus on selling English-made quality footwear. In the same shop, the band Madness became regular customers and even performed their iconic song ‘Our House’. In addition, the store was featured in several of their music videos!

We went inside the store where I chatted with one of the shop employees. I told him that my dad was a cobbler at that store (when it was known as Holts) before the second World War and he showed me the original cobblers bench. He lamented the good old days when people wanted the proper Doc Martens and not the cheaper ones made now. I bought myself a pair of very English George Cox loafers, not cheap, but felt that I grabbed a piece of my history. They are the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned and every time I put them on, I think of my dad.

The Best Wallet On the Market

I just discovered a fabulous wallet and it is perfect for travel.

Here’s the thing. When you travel a lot, you tend to rely upon two wallets – a mothership wallet where you store pretty much all of your main paraphernalia and receipts, and a small wallet which is for your daily fix. I’ve tried the orthodox wallets (the bifold, the trifold) and the super slim credit card holders with the money clip on the side, but it just gets complicated. The bifolds and trifolds end up stuffed with business cards, plastic cards, random notes and receipts. Before you know it, you’re walking around with a miniature book in your pocket. The tiny backup ones, are often missing the right cards – did the license get left in the mothership wallet? – and there is no room for money so you have to carry a money clip. It’s a bit messy. And the money clip is not brilliant in general. Where do you put the hotel card, the subway card, and so on?!

I thought I had solved everything when I discovered an Italian wallet with a money clip inside of it and room for a bunch of credit cards but not enough space to tempt you to dump your Costco card, your Global Entry card, and a wad of business cards. All great, except in true Italian style, the wallet started to give too much. One day, while I was paying for something, everything slid out onto the floor. Cash, credit cards, you name it. It was one of those great examples of an Italian invention where everything looked great but nothing really worked. How I love Italy!

So I was recounting this to an Italian friend of mine and he told me he had solved my problem. He recommended a wallet system called Secrid. This wallet has changed my life. It has a money clip inside, a compartment for your driver’s license, and it is small and compact. But most importantly, it has a magic lever on the bottom that fires the credit cards into a fan like display while the wallet is closed. Almost like dealing a deck of cards. I have not come across anything quite so creative and brilliant as this.

Secrid is a Dutch company that was founded over 20 years ago and the wallet piece of the company was almost a secondary part of their business. During the financial collapse in 2008, they decided to focus on what they call a “card dispenser wallet.” It was a brilliant moment. A young Dutch couple, who happen to be designers, started an incredible journey. What they had spotted was that people’s wallet behavior was changing – less cash, more credit cards, and the idea that smaller is better. Being able to dispense a credit card without opening the wallet was more secure.

So I bought one – actually I bought two – and I started telling my friends about them and using the wallet daily. When I travel in London, I put my Oyster Card in there so I can just fire the button and scan the card. I just want to say thanks to the Secrid team. Anybody who has not looked at this product should give it a shot. Follow this link and your life will be changed. Happy spending!!

Paul Smith Pietro Place Peter Jones

What I Like About Paul Smith

I like shopping and I actually prefer going to shops rather than surfing online.

As I get to travel, I am probably spoiled for choice.

One of my favorite shops is Paul Smith in London.  I started going to Paul Smith in the late 1970’s.  I loved the shirts and shoes from the very beginning.  It was a sort of cool, edgy, and a very “Londony” look.  As I was living in the States, it was a way  to keep myself in tune with England!

So, all those years ago and still, I go to Paul Smith when I am in London.  I love the tiny street in Covent Garden called Floral Street where the store is located. Everyone is helpful, trendy, and more or less my sons age!  Actually my son who lives in Washington DC, always asks me to buy him a shirt whenever I am passing through.  He even pays me back!

This past Christmas, I bought him a couple of shirts as a gift.  However, one of them, as he later discovered, still had the magnet attached and had escaped the alarms in the shop.  So the present wasn’t a present but rather a pain!  With no Paul Smith shops in DC or Boston, I knew I would be in London soon so I popped in armed with photos of the unusable shirt.  I chatted with a nice sales guy who had the deputy manager, Alex Sivyer, come down.  He assessed the situation, said, “Here’s what we will do.  Buy a shirt today.  It’s on us.  Bring the other one in whenever and well take the magnet off.  2 for 1!”

And that’s why I shop in Paul Smith.  I wish every store could be like that.  Great ethos, great people, and everyone obviously likes the guy who owns the place. Hats off to Paul Smith.  It’s not just about the clothes.  It is about the attitude and the culture towards the customer!