So Organic

Turnpin Lane, SE10

I was rather sad to see the art gallery on Turnpin Lane close a couple of months ago, and with the unsettled nature of the market just now I had assumed it would be just another empty shell for the next few years.

So I was delighted to hear from Stuart that the dead shop’s boots had been filled already by a local internet company branching out into the real world. So Organic has been featuring in the women’s glossies for sometime, supplying mail-order health, beauty and household goods and with a fairly big internet presense but it didn’t have a shop where you could actually go in and see the stuff for yourself before buying.

It’s all very light and airy (not always an easy task in the gloom of Turnpin Lane) and modern-feeling. When I first heard about it I was worried that it might compete with the fabulous Greenlands Health Foods but actually I think that although there is some crossover, they generally compliment each other well. Greenlands focuses on what you put inside your body, So Organic’s shop seems to be more interested in what you put on your body.

The main shop sells cosmetics – all organic, cruelty-free and brands I didn’t really know. Friendly, enthusiastic staff take you through the different lines with an almost exhausting exhilaration, but it is quite infectious and although I needed a nice cup of (herbal) tea and a sit down afterwards, they did succeed in making a considerable sale out of me.

The back room has the slightly less glamorous but equally interesting household-y-toiletry side of the business. Simple white shelving sells everything from recycled stationery – rulers made out of plastic cups and notebooks recreated out of juice cartons – to smelly gifts for teenage girls. There’s a tiny men’s section, a somewhat larger baby collection and some organic bedlinen which was not open to feel but is possibly something they should consider since it looked lovely and unbleached but a bit – well – scratchy.

At the back of the shop, huge vats of various Ecover products lie in wait to refill old containers – something to be applauded indeed.

The massively friendly staff were at pains to point out that there were MANY more items on the website; that there just wasn’t enough room in the shop to display everything (and one glimpse at the site will confirm that) but for me, the shop still felt a bit empty. I’m not suggesting they fill it to the gills, but there was definitely a spot more room (in my book) for lovely displays to keep me in there. It didn’t take long to see what they had, buy some of it and leave. I know it’s a small shop and they presumably don’t want to encourage too much extended browsing, but I do like shelves with stuff on. Never call me a minimalist. Give me an Aladdin’s Cave any day.

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