It's not very likely that you have ever heard of Kristal pharmacy in Nunhead. You might also be forgiven for not knowing were Nunhead is. It's a small South East London neighbourhood, just between Peckham, Brockley and East Dulwich. And it's on the up, as they say in estate agent circles. It also happens to be the place where I live. The small high street is home to a slowly changing array of shops; from the strictly useful (dry cleaners, corner shops) and nice to have (florist, hairdresser), to the new and aspirational (bike repairs, musical instrument maker and vintage furniture), the foodie goodies (deli, bakery, butcher, greengrocer), the famous (best fishmonger in South London) all the way to the arty pop up. Throw in a handful of fast food places, a solicitor and an estate agent and you have all you need at your doorstep. And of course there is a pharmacy. Not just any pharmacy, the NHS takes residence in Aladdin's cave type of pharmacy.
Air freshener, Bath oils, Camping accessories, Dior, Egg warmer in the shape of an Easter bunny, Fish food, Guerlain, Halogen bulbs, Incontinence pads, Jazz CDs, Kenzo, Lipsticks, Moth balls, Nurofen, Olive oil, Plastic Buddhas, Q-Tips, Rice cooker, Superglue, Tomato soup, Umbrellas, Versace, Water feature with blinking lights, Xylophone, YSL, Zorro mask.
I particularly like the "In loving memory" for Granddad and Grandma items (whatever they are) next to the mummy and the skeleton.
The place is an amazing treasure trove. I have yet to go in there and ask for something they don't have. Their storage space must be some sort of Tardis like emporium. The best thing is the ever changing, often seasonal shop window and I will put up more photos when the Halloween deco is out. (Done!) It's also always busy, with people waiting for their subscriptions to be processed and taking the time to stroll around, having a chat...
But of course I wouldn't write about it if there wasn't any relation to perfume.
Quite surprisingly in such a crammed place, there is a decent wall of fragrances. They have all the big brands, and lots of them, with prices ranging from "Wow, that's cheap" to "good value". It's always a pleasure to go in and check if anything has been newly discounted. There are some dust collectors, big gift sets at the top of the shelf, but this is not a place to shop for vintage, pre-reformulation Caron, people here know their stuff, and it gets bought. I came a few days too late for a 50 ml Mitsouko Edp that was better priced than anything on ebay.
What places like this make me realise is that perfume is cherished and valued pretty much all over the social spectrum, and that, niche perfumes aside, the lady of leisure with a Bentley driving husband is wearing pretty much the same fragrances as the working class girl with the South London accent.
So, I'd like to say, do come and visit Nunhead, because it's lovely and all that, but more realistically you will find a similar place just down the road from your home. You have probably never been inside, dismissing it as a place where the blue rinse brigade shops, but give it a try, you might find some treasure. Or just all the things you never knew you needed...