Residents of Stoke Newington, you should be proud. Local proprietor Kirit Ved is flying the Stokey flag all the way up in Birmingham where, at a glittering ceremony, he has just been named Independent Newsagent of the Year 2007.
VED News, on Church Street in N16, was singled out by the judges for its impressive range of newspapers and magazines from around the globe. Reflecting Hackney's polyglot populace, Mr. Ved stocks titles from the US and Europe as well as the standard English dailies. Copies of L'Equipe, de Bild, El Pais, and the Wall Street Journal jostle for shelf space with the Express, Mirror and Guardian. In particular, Stoke Newington's strong Turkish and Kurdish communities mean a strong supply of customers looking for specialist titles.
Shoppers in Hackney are used to newsagents who break the mould. Hamdy Shamein, of Hamdy Newsagent on Stoke Newington High Street, has been featured on television and the national press for his decision not to stock pornographic titles. His "porn free" campaign has seen him butt heads with the big boys like WHSmith and their pre-packaged magazine titles. In an area with a rich history of non-conformism, these two shopkeepers are keeping the flame of iconoclasm alive.
Image from fatcontroller's Flickrstream