Last weekend The Alley Milk Tea Shop ran a Itzy Day to celebrate the group’s 3rd Anniversary with special cup holder giveaways and in tandem with this the Shop Sokollab in Soho Square ran a promo day too. So we headed to the West End to check it out…
Although we have heard of and even ordered products from Sokollab, we have never visited the store itself (due to closures and Lockdowns etc) Now the shop is open for the public, this time we took the opportunity and first headed to get a Milk Tea and a free Cup Holder at The Alley Holborn. Then we walked through the wind of Storm Eunice drinking the delicious yumminess ( Coca Deerioca) which to the corner of Soho Sq then to the shop, to look for KPop albums and to see what all the fuss is about.
What we found was a small space that looked more like the lobby for the private flats above, but had been closed off and made into a small shop. The interior is odd in so much as Sokollab sell not only imported albums, but also Korean beauty products, a really strange combination if you think about it, they may all be Korean, but that’s as much correlation as they have with each other.
The beauty products are placed perfectly on the shelves, organised by type and ingredients a little sparse but visually nice. There were some advertised Valentines beauty bundles which looked like a pretty decent selection.
If you turned round there was a messy batch Learn Korean books (in no particular order) and some BTS BT21 plushies for £70 or so.
The back wall contained a range of sheet masks in many different varieties and above was a number of magazines.
There was also a little side section with note pads, pens, pencils and all other stationary (mostly BT21) but an odd EXO book here and there.
Overlooking the whole shop is some life size BTS member cut outs.
Now onto the real reason to visit the shop – The centre and right side is strewn with KPop albums and in no way as organised or well presented as the moisturisers and creams.
The shelves are splattered with albums of different generations, different genres and of different sizes and shapes, it’s chaotic. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to where anything goes? 2 of the Tomorrow by Together albums was crammed next to 1 MAMAMOO album which in turn was jammed next to 2 of Itzy albums and all of the Dawn/Hyuna albums which weren’t stacked, just placed on the shelf flat. Because of this it was next to impossible to work out/find what group you were looking for let alone which album was where. I’m not sure if this was because of the time of day and people messing it up or wether this is the way of the shop.
There was a dedicated Itzy display, which we had seen tweeted the night before, but when we got there this turned out to be just one shelf and unfortunately by the time we got there it was mostly empty, only a couple of CD’s were left, the boxsets had been snapped up.
Of course these albums are less about the music, being as most of us don’t even own a CD player any longer, the albums are bought for the photos and collector’s photocard’s inside.
The centre shelves were strewn/filled with all manor of extra bits and pieces, most with photo-books and other goodies that are usual for the Korean Music industry. But one again with little organisation in their display, for the most part we couldn’t work out what they were. So we searched through the shelves to find what we could. Being as these are all imported the prices do show and so most if not all albums are at least £20 but can range up to £150+.
The store was busy all the time we were there, a constant flow of customers, lining up to sort through the shelves and search for their stan’s latest release or an old Album.
The problem is that so few albums are imported that unlike going to a Record Shop in the past the choice is severely limited and so half a dozen bookshelves of random albums is as good as it gets and it’s all we have for the moment.
There seems to be an upstairs area, which may have been a coffee shop seating area but was instead with life-size cutouts of the BTS Members, like they had to have this as a statement that they are a KPop Shop!
We did find a couple of bargains in the ‘damaged’ section, a copy of Lalisa’s Single, which had a tiny mark on the cover and Mamamoo’s Best of, minus the Photo-cards. We also picked up Purple Kiss – Hide/Seek and Stray Kids Christmas EveL (because its always Christmas!) As by now you know our biases
Then we were on our way.
So if your ever in the area and want to go and buy some albums, collect some photocards, get some freebies or just go a listen to some good music whilst you browse go and give it a visit.