Support small! We share our favourite independent shops from around the country, so you can find the best Christmas gifts and give back to the creative community.
It's not long until Small Business Saturday, which is coming up on 3 December. It's a reminder that we need to support local, independent stores more than ever. Especially those directly supporting artists, designers, illustrators and makers by selling and promoting these products.
Think about it: if these indefatigable indies didn't exist, it would turn the country into a cultural desert, dominated by the lowest-common-denominator approach of the retail giants, and leave thousands of artists, designers, illustrators and makers out of pocket.
And yet, with all the economic turmoil surrounding us right now, even some of the best independent shops may not survive the winter.
With that in mind, if you have the cash to spend on Christmas presents, make sure you put it where it can do some good rather than feeding the Amazon behemoth. And anyway, you're bound to find more fun, quirky and interesting stuff in independent shops than online. Plus, you'll have the rewarding experience of being able to peruse, pick up and actually touch products before you buy. Even if you only buy Just a Card, as the cause founded by Sarah Hamilton positively says, you'll be making a difference.
To point you in the right direction, we've listed below our 55 favourite independent shops from every corner of the UK. Each of these businesses has at least one physical store, and most have an online operation too. So check them out, and find the best gifts (and cards) for your loved ones this Christmas while supporting fellow creatives along the way.
The Portobello Bookshop, Edinburgh
Based in the seaside community of Portobello, a few miles from Edinburgh's city centre, this bookshop is fun, friendly and beautifully curated. Unusually, it's open a full seven days a week, from 10am to 6pm, and they do online sales too. Head here for signed titles, stationery, cards, children's toys, board games, and more.
Category is Books, Glasgow
Category Is Books is an independent LGBT+ bookshop in the southside of Glasgow, on Allison Street. This is a space to learn about, be inspired by and share in the staff's love of queer books, history, art, activism, writing and storytelling. It's open Thursday to Sunday, 11am-6pm, plus there's a home delivery service for books, comics and zines.
Oaka Supercity, Glasgow
Oaka Supercity is an Asian supermarket that sells produce from all over the continent, including China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and more. They believe the key to a happy home is to bring families and friends together through the love of cooking, food and health. Founded in 2016 on George Street in Glasgow City Centre, this special store also has branches on Kelvinhaugh Street, G3 and New City Road, G4.
Based on Union Street, Sirene is a boutique that says they believe in "style, not fashion: we love print, colour and texture and garments that are versatile have longevity, and that will be treasured." Described by Elle magazine as 'Shopping Heaven', they're open 11am-5pm weekdays, 10am-6pm Saturday and Sunday by appointment.
Epitome's ethos is to encourage a different, more considered approach to shopping, where innate style replaces trend-led fashion. With an eclectic mix of products, they're proud to present avant-garde designers who create distinctive clothing, emphasising timeless, functional design, enduring quality and craftsmanship. Located on Dundas Street, they're open 10-6 every day except Sundays.
Robinson's is an institution: one of Northern Ireland's only remaining shoemakers and a leading online store for quality men's and women's footwear. Stocking Barker shoes, Tricker's, Dubarry, Moreschi, R.M. Williams, Cheaney and Robinson's own Irish brogues, it's located in Queens Arcade and open 10-5 daily, except Sundays.
Born & Bred, Belfast
Formerly known as Studio Souk, Born & Bred on Ann Street is a unique treasure trove of local handmade products. It's brimming with arts, crafts, gifts, food and homewares across three floors. And it also gives customers the chance to see how everything is made via its open-plan artists' and makers' studios. Born & Bred is open 10-9 on Thursdays, 1-6 on Sundays and 10-6 on other days.
Envoy is a women's clothing store where every single item is carefully selected, and you'll find a distinctive quality of design, fabric and craftsmanship. Located on Wellington Street, it's open 10am-5.30pm, Tuesday through Saturday,
Doodle & Boom, Bangor
Doodle & Boom is run by a husband and wife team, Peter and Lisa Mahaffey, and sells quirky items, quality gifts, and homewares, many of which are handmade and most of which will be unique. They're on hand to tell you about products, or you can browse leisurely in peace: it's up to you. Their store in Quay St is open 10-5, Monday to Saturday.
Founded by sisters Catherine and Patricia, Maven has a fantastic selection of homeware, lighting and furniture design. They handpick all items in their store and only choose those they'd happily have in their own homes. Brands such as Marimekko, Ferm Living, Hay and Muuto sit alongside the best local design, such as ceramics by Derek Wilson and textiles from Mourne Textiles. Based just off Belfast's Lisburn Road in a former Memorial Hall, the store is open 10-5, Tuesday to Saturday.
House by Betty, Carmarthen
House by Betty describes itself as "a lifestyle store with a slight houseplant and coffee addiction". It has an eclectic mix of useful and beautiful items, from handmade African baskets to wooden postcards. Based on St Catherines Walk, the shop is open from 9.30-5.30 on Monday-Saturday, and 10-4 on Sunday.
Spillers Records, Cardiff
Describing itself as the 'oldest record shop in the world', Spillers is still beating the drum for analogue music. The friendly staff truly know their stuff, and the range and quality of the records on offer are pretty breathtaking. Based in the Morgan Arcade in Cardiff's centre, it's open 11-5, Tuesday to Saturday.
Kindle House, Swansea
In the coastal village of Mumbles, you'll find Kindle House, a thriving lifestyle, fashion and interiors store that boasts a sister shop in Ystradgynlais. Its featured brands include Nomination Italy Jewellery, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, Masai Clothing, Onjenu, Alpe shoes and Melin Tregwynt. It's open 10.30-5, Monday to Saturday.
Nest is a gift shop in the leafy village of Rhiwbina offering a magical haven of gifts and homewares. Here you'll find beautiful pieces that you won't see on the high street, favouring small, often Welsh stockists. They're open 9-5.30, Monday to Saturday.
Her Dandy Wolf, Aberystwyth
Her Dandy Wolf is a lifestyle shop selling new and vintage clothing, gifts and homeware, along with original works by new and emerging artists. It's a relaxed and friendly environment here, where everybody is welcome to come and browse. The shop is based on Market St and is open 10-4, Tuesday to Saturday.
Bertie's of Bay, Whitby
Bertie's of Bay is a heritage clothing store focused on reviving traditional nautical styles worn along the Yorkshire coastline from times gone by. Items include ganseys, nautical sweaters, fisherman smocks and work jackets. This marvellous niche store is located on Chapel Street in Robin Hood's Bay and is open from 11-4.30 daily.
Eye Room, Leeds
Eye Room is a local optician offering that personal touch that's often missing from the high street. With a great selection of high-quality frames at affordable prices, they work hard to make choosing your eyewear a positive experience, with unbiased and honest advice. Based on Mill Hill, Eye Room is open 10-6, Monday to Saturday.
Form is a gift shop that celebrates independent makers and thoughtfully-made goods. It's a calm and peaceful environment where you can take your time browsing handmade pieces and find out more about their makers. Based on Bradley Street, they're open 11-5 Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 11-6 Thursday and 12-4 Sunday.
Fred Aldous, Manchester
Fred Aldous has been helping people make things they want since 1886 and stocks a vast range of art, craft, photography and gift products online and in its Manchester store. Based on Lever St, they're open from 9-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday.
Owl is a life and style store for men and women, offering carefully curated collections from around the world. They're widely known for their friendly and knowledgeable service, and you'll find clothing and accessories from everywhere, from English to Denmark and Japan. Located on Montpellier Parade, Owl is open 10-5pm every day except Sunday.
Vinyl Exchange, Manchester
Vinyl Exchange opened in Manchester in 1988 and is now the largest seller and buyer of rare and second-hand CDs, records and DVDs in northwest England. Located on Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter, the shop has two floors of CDs and records, and staff who know their specialist areas like the backs of their hands. Vinyl Exchange is open 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday and 12-5pm Sunday.
Cow is an independent vintage clothing and accessories retailer offering a sustainable alternative to fast fashion. Its handpicked items are ethically sourced from around the world and range from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even nostalgic 00s pieces. Based on Bold St, it's worth a visit just to check out the custom interior, which is itself made from 90% recycled materials. Opening times are 10-6 Monday to Saturday and 11-5 Sunday.
Village is a bookshop and gallery offering a selection of contemporary art, design, fashion and photography publications. They also source self-published and small press zines from artists around the world and support a not-for-profit gallery space. You'll find them in Thornton's Arcade, and they're open 12-6 weekdays, 10-6 Saturdays and 12-5 Sundays. (There's also a branch in Manchester!)
Bird's Yard, Sheffield
Bird's Yard is an award-winning indie shop boasting a unique mix of local designers and cool brands. You can always find something different in this shop, from unique pieces by independent designers to handpicked products, covering stationery, accessories, jewellery, cards, homeware and more. Based in Chapel Walk, it's open 11-4 Mondays, 10-5 Saturdays, 12-4 Sundays, and 11-5 all other days.
Pop Boutique, Liverpool
Pop Boutique is a vibrant haven for vintage clothes, furniture and kitsch, as well as their own-label fashion. You'll find excellent quality here at affordable prices. Located on Bold Street, they're open 10.30-6.30 every day except Sundays, when opening hours are 11-5.
Colours May Vary, Leeds
Colours May Vary is an independent shop stocking a range of beautiful, useful and inspirational wares. They strive to support their fellow independents in the city and try to bring things to Leeds that can't be found elsewhere. These include graphic art and design, typography, illustration, and product design. They also stock a range of books, journals, prints, cards, gifts, wrapping, homeware and stationery. Found in the Corn Exchange, they're open 10.30-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday.
Walk the Line Vintage, Nantwich, Cheshire
Inspired by a love for Johnny Cash, Walk the Line Vintage offers vintage and retro clothing for modern fashion lovers. It's the place to be if you're looking for quirky, stylish, one-of-a-kind pieces. Located in Cocoa Yard, Walk the Line Vintage is open 11-6 on Monday, 10-5 on Tuesday, 11-4 on Wednesday, and 10-5 Thursday to Sunday.
Grey n Pink Records, Chester
Established for over 30 years, Grey n Pink Records boasts the largest selection of new, second-hand and collectable vinyl records in Cheshire. Specialising in collectable LPs, 7-inch and 12-inch singles, they're in Brook Street, a five-minute walk from both the historic city centre and the railway station. Opening hours are 10-5, Monday to Saturday.
Elvet & Bailey, Durham
Offering gift items from a growing community of over 80 artists, crafters and makers, Elvet & Bailey is owned and operated by Creative Spaces Durham, a social enterprise designed to use its profits and assets to benefit the community. It's a bit like a local craft market but based on the High Street. The shop is open 10-5 every day except Sundays when it's open 11-4. Last year, they raised £4,000 for a local cancer charity. Support them and do good by popping along and buying something for a loved one.
The Yesterday Society, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
The Yesterday Society is a lovely little vintage boutique situated in Newcastle's Grainger Market. It's a true Aladdin's cave, packed to the rafters with vintage and retro clothing and accessories for men and women. Stock is updated daily, and owner Rachael keeps everything affordable. It's open 10-5 Monday to Friday and 10-5.30 on Saturday.
Disorder Boutique is an ethical fashion brand and shop stocking the best of British fashion design. All garments are handcrafted in-house by their skilled artisan team, who print original artwork on limited lengths of textiles. They source from British milled fabric manufacturers where possible, thus supporting a homegrown independent fashion ecosystem. Based on Needless Alley, Birmingham B2, they're open from 9-5 Monday to Saturday and 10-4 Sunday.
Design 44, Derby
Design 44 is a design and lifestyle store focusing on Scandinavian style. Owner Jade sources the best design-led gifts, eco products and interiors from independent British, Danish and Dutch designers. Located in Lower Mall, the shop opens 9-6 Monday to Saturday and 10.30-4.30 on Sunday.
Five Leaves, Nottingham
Five Leaves Bookshop is orientated towards independent presses, with a good representation of major publishing houses too. Here you'll find intriguing reads from reprint house Persephone, political publishers including Verso and Freedom, poetry publishers such as Carcanet and Bloodaxe, translation houses including Pierene and Pushkin Press and the landscape publisher Little Toller. Five Leaves is nestled in an alleyway opposite the Tourist Information Centre, one minute from Market Square, just before The Works and Primark. They're open 10-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 12-4 Sunday.
Midas Arts is a lovely shop, full of treasures and treats, whose aim is to showcase local, national and internationally designed glassware, ceramics, jewellery and more. The owner is friendly and helpful, and you'll find pieces here you won't see elsewhere. Located on Bailgate, a three-minute walk from Lincoln Castle, it's open 10-5, Monday to Saturday.
Global Groove Records, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
Online and in person, Global Groove Records are specialists in dance music and vinyl, with over 60,000 in stock shipping worldwide daily. They've been supplying DJs with imported and promo vinyl records since 1992, and what they don't know about the subject isn't worth knowing. Based on Bucknall New Road, they're open from 10-6, Monday to Friday.
Oberon of Shrewsbury offers fashion-forward and unique styling in ladies' clothing, jewellery and footwear. Established in 1985, they specialise in silver and semi-precious stones, statement wears and on-trend pieces handpicked from all corners of the globe. Located on the town's leading independent shopping street, Wyle Cop, they're open 9.30-5.30 on weekdays and 9.30-6 Saturdays.
Lunaria is an independent lifestyle store focused on gifts, homewares, dried flowers, dining and children. Products are typically made with natural materials with an earthy palette to help create a sense of calm and tranquillity for your home. Based on Commercial Street, they're open from 9.30-4.30 every day except Sunday.
Harriman & Co, Leicester
In the heart of Leicester's "old town" lies an eclectic homewares store called Harriman & Co. Whether you want to stock up on household essentials or invest in one-off furniture pieces, the independent has everything you might need to add something special to your home. Established in 2014 by Drew and James, this is a place full of thoughtful design and beautifully simple functional objects. Always worth a browse.
Warwick Books, Warwick
At Warwick's only independent bookshop, established in 2004, the staff truly love reading, and they aim to offer the highest quality of service to customers. Curl up on their cosy sofa, enjoy a complimentary tea or coffee, and browse everything from poetry, sports and health books to fiction, travel and history while the kids enjoy the extensive children's section. Based on Market Place, they're open Monday to Saturday, 9.15am-5pm.
Swordfish Records, Birmingham
Based on Dalton Street in the city centre, Swordfish is a music industry legend. Customers over the years have included John Peel, Dave Grohl & The Foo Fighters, Robert Plant, John Taylor, The Horrors, Jamie T, Stuart Maconie, Franz Ferdinand, Mud Honey, Neil Diamond, John Cale, Primal Scream and Jamie Cullum, to name but a few. They often have live performances in the store, and Daytime TV will perform on October 21. Open 11-5, Wednesday to Saturday.
Last Night I Dreamt, Southwell
Last Night I Dreamt is a destination jewellery boutique in Southwell, featuring an intoxicating mix of established and up-and-coming designers. They used to be on Queen Street, but this year moved a little down the road to King Street. Opening hours are 10-4.30, Monday to Saturday.
The Green and Found, Deal, Kent
The Green and Found is a lifestyle concept Store and brand that combines artisan craftsmanship with simplicity, purity and nature. They do a great job of curating a bespoke collection of products and experiences, which ease themselves effortlessly into your life and home, bringing calm and pleasure. Located on Victoria Road, The Green and Found is open 10-4 Monday to Saturday and 11-3 on Sunday.
Papersmiths aims to be the "stationery shop of your dreams". Alongside its own designs, you'll find our handpicked favourites from designers and makers across the globe, from notebooks to pencil sharpeners and fountain pens to scissors. They also boast carefully curated books and magazines, including interior, architecture, graphics, music, fashion, film, travel, food and children's titles. Based on Sydney Street in the North Laine Bazaar, they open 10-6 Monday to Saturday and 11-5 Sunday.
Mr B's, Bath
In 2015 the Guardian named Mr B's one of the world's best bookshops, and we're not surprised. It's an energetic, labyrinthine space where you never know what you might encounter next, from claw-foot bath book displays to toilets illustrated by Chris Riddell. One minute's walk from the Jane Austen Centre, it's open 9-5.30, Monday to Friday.
Mon Pote, Bristol
Mon Pote developed from an online store with pop-ups at local Bristol markets and opened its first brick-and-mortar store in 2016. Along the way, they've built a reputation for curating the best Scandinavian interior design brands and mixing them with designers and makers from the UK, Europe and worldwide. Based on North Street, they're open 10-6 Monday to Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday and bank holidays.
Bookbag stocks a select range of books for all ages. Charlie and Malcolm Richards, who opened it in December 2020 in between lockdowns, want it to feel welcoming, warm and accessible. Here you'll find a global range of fiction and no-fiction writing, lots of independent presses, writers of colour, LGBT+ stories, art, music, environmental, nature writing and a smattering of vinyl. Situated in McCoys Arcade, just off Fore Street, it's open 10-5, Tuesday to Saturday, and 11-3 on Sunday.
Hi Cacti, Brighton
Hi Cacti is a cactus concept shop specialising in easy care indoor plants, south by southwestern home decor and botanical gifts. Owner Sabina was inspired by her 'Tex-Mex' roots in her hometown of Austin, Texas, as well as her road trips and adventures around Mexico and the American Southwest. The store is based on Dyke Road and is open 10.30-5.30, Monday to Saturday, and 11-4 on Sunday.
Willow & Stone, Falmouth
Willow & Stone sources and supplies quality period door furniture, hardware and homewares, always focusing on excellent quality, authentic design and longevity. Established in 2005, they offer a distinctive range of architectural ironmongery, including traditional front door hardware and kitchen fittings, as well as internal door ironmongery, both replica and reclaimed. Their shop on Arwenack Street is open 10-5, Monday to Saturday.
Warp & Weft, Hastings
Warp & Weft is a boutique and atelier housed in a restored Victorian building. The concept was to create an all-enveloping, perfumed creative space. And the layered interiors are a backdrop to the meticulously designed and sourced textiles, objects, accessories, clothing and made-to-order service. Opening times are normally 11am - 5pm, but they say it's best to call them first to check.
Beatnik Emporium, Southampton
Beatnik Emporium has been selling vintage, retro and quirky clothing in Southampton since 1992. They began as a festival stall in 1990 and opened their first shop in 1992. Now based on Above Bar Street, in the centre of town, they're open 10.30-5 Monday to Saturday, and 11.30-4.30 on Sunday.
North Street Potters, Clapham, London
Founded in 1978, The North Street Potters is packed full of handmade pottery at affordable prices created by group members in the shared studio behind the shop. Here you'll find a large range of hand-thrown tableware and individual decorative pieces made in various shapes, colours and styles. Located on North St, SW4, opening hours are 10-5, Tuesday to Friday.
Not Just Another Store, London E2
Not Just Another Store is a conceptual retail space with collaboration at the heart and core of its concept. In that light, it curates innovative events, installations and exhibitions and housing 25 international independent fashion and lifestyle brands across womenswear and menswear, literature, art, homeware and interiors. Located at Calvert Ave, E2, opening hours are 11-6, Tuesday to Saturday, and 12-6 on Sunday.
Gay's The Word, London WC1
Gay's The Word is the UK's oldest LGBT+ bookshop. It was set up in 1979 by a group of gay socialists as a community space, where all profits were funnelled back into the business, and this ethos continues today. The shop has a genuine community atmosphere with friendly, helpful staff and hosts regular book events and discussion groups. It offers a wide range of fiction, poetry, history, biography, queer studies, graphic and young adult novels, badges, DVDs, T-shirts and posters. You'll find it on Marchmont St, WC1, and it's open 11-6 Monday to Saturday and 1-6 Sunday.
Present & Correct, London EC1
Founded in 2009 by two graphics designers, Present & Correct takes "office sundries for the modern workspace" and elevates them into an art form. They stock stationery from 18+ different countries, and the pair go on sourcing trips around four times a year with the hope of finding some vintage gems, so there's always something new to peruse. Based on Arlington Way, EC1, the store opens Tuesday to Saturday from 12 to 6.
D.A.Y Boutique, Peckham, London
Boutique clothing store D.A.Y was founded in 2018 by sisters Disha, Apee and Yukti (taking the first letter of each of their names) and stems from their passion for independent retail, styling and under-the-radar brands. Their aim was to launch a space to curate such brands and support the local community and independent designers in Peckham and southeast London. You'll find D.A.Y on Bellenden Rd, SE15, and it's open 10.30-2.30 on Monday, 11-6 Tuesday to Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday.