Shopping on St Helena
Let’s be honest. You are not going to spend six days on a ship to get to St Helena to shop. Being brutally honest, you would not come here for the purposes of shopping even if the trip was an hour long.
Ok, so what can you buy here –
St Helenian Coffee – I have actually prepared a separate tip on this - St Helena – the worlds most expensive coffee. Don’t let the title put you off as its cheap (reasonably priced)on the Island. I suggest you buy it at the Farm Lodge Country House Hotel having enjoyed a cup on the verandah.
St Helena Souvenirs – The best place to get these in terms of range (limited anyway) is the shop next door to the Tourist Office . I’m not sure if it has a name other than a sign – Arts and Crafts. Here you can acquire some reasonable quality woodwork, artwork (paintings and drawings) and ceramics in addition to your fridge magnets, tea towels and similar. A few of the shops between here and the ocean have a much more limited range (read pathetic range) if the Arts and Crafts shop is closed. The Jamestown Museum comes in second best in terms of range of items available.
St Helena books, old pictures and maps – Robin Castell, owner of the Prince’s Lodge and the Castell Collection has, over the years, written numerous books and published albums of photographs illustrating the history, geography and sociology of Saint Helena. You can get a taste for this work on the RMS St Helena as you travel to the Island and see lots more if you visit the Princes Lodge and Castell Collection (St Paul’s area).
Stamps and other philatelic items – see my separate review – to be written and linked shortly
By this stage, and especially if you are from the UK, you may be wondering why I chose a window display of ASDA breakfast cereals to accompany this review. Let me explain.
I had to look twice when I saw this in downtown Jamestown. Did ASDA, a major UK supermarket chain really have a branch in Jamestown and if it did would it really take the form of a small shop with a window display like this?
From further enquiries I ascertained if I came back in a couple of months the ASDA window display (and a major portion of the shops offering) would very likely be a Tesco display. This explained the ASDA and Tesco products I had seen in my hotel and various other places on St Helena but I remained confused.
The answer to this conundrum is that neither ASDA nor Tesco have a presence on St Helena nor are they officially represented here. Basically the local supermarket goes wholesale shopping in the UK and whoever fills the shipping container cheapest that trip gets pride of place back home on St Helena until the next trip.
What to pay: Prices not too bad considering location
The items on sale in this shop are all hand made by Saints themselves.
The sales ladies are knowledgeable and will answer any questions you may have relating to the island.
What to buy: Items on sale in this shop:
St Helena lace - hand spun using a pillow and needles - this is a dying art on the island unfortunately - it used to be taught in schools.
balls of wool made from local sheep, dyed with home-made dyes made from plants.
hand made handbags embroidered with endemic flowers and animals
wallets and purses made from eel skin
coffee that grows on the island (the island's "green gold")
jewelry made from pips - the pips are brown with orange specks - the result is stunning
jewelry and ornaments made from shells
wood carved and inlayed jewelry boxes, lamp stands, etc.
What to pay: I cannot comment on "what to pay".