In support of Small Business Saturday UK, taking place on the first shopping Saturday in December, we’ve compiled a list of the country’s best small shops you need to visit now. Showcasing the merits of shopping local, our list is stocked with plants, plumes and plentitudes of homewares. Needs must.
Village, an independent bookstore and art gallery based in Leeds, is the sort of store you pop into for a quick browse and leave with a stack load of literary goodies. The zesty store boasts a selection of established and independent publishers, cataloguing contemporary art, design, fashion and photography books and magazines. Specialising in self-published zines from local and international artists, Village’s first publication, Ukrainian Street Dogs (a series of images that British photographer Christopher Nunn made during his time in Kalush) has just been released. Helping to develop an independent arts scene in West Yorkshire, Village helps to platform works of emerging artists by running regular exhibitions in their gallery space.
Highlight: If we weren’t already sold, purchases made online and in person are wrapped in archive paper and bound with twine.
Objects of Use, Oxford and Nottingham
Stock up on all your household provisions at Objects of Use; the one stop shop for artisanal everyday objects. This useful utility store provides a shedload of enduring household tools and functional items to fulfill any lingering domestic desire. Against 'throwawayism', owners Alex and Hazel Dexter aim to minimise its environmental impact by offering objects that are built to last, using low-impact production methods and natural materials. Originating in Oxford, Objects of Use has newly opened a concession store in Nottingham located within the new Rough Trade store on Broad Street.
Highlight: One look at the website, and your life will suddenly feel incomplete until you've bought a set of horn combs, a table dustpan and brush and a cuckoo warbler.
Old Town, Holt, Norfolk
If you’ve ever wandered through the Georgian market town of Holt, then Will Brown and Marie Wiley's, clothing store and workshop, Old Town, is probably well-trod territory. Above the store, garments are made to order in the workshop, where designs are individually cut. Rather than made to measure, items are made-to-order (so returns are still an option). Emphasis is placed on the merit of various fabrics and the beautifully sturdy 'workwear' clothes in drill, denim and linen. Exemplifying simplicity, restraint and minimal styling, Old Town’s range of everyday clothing, along with the 70 odd garments handmade there each week), Old Town use British wools, linens and cottons wherever possible.
Highlight: The Hemsby jumper – ‘the sort of jumper that sportsmen might have worn before the track suit, the shell suit or the hoody were invented.’
Chatsworth Road’s concept lifestyle store, BOTANY, houses a carefully curated selection of homewares, plants and other curiosities. Inspired by beautiful living, the Hackney based store is stacked with shelves full of locally sourced blooms. With a soft spot for succulents, BOTANY’S product line ranges from Goods by Knot hanging planters to Laboratory perfumes and Esme Winter stationery cards, complimenting the stores naturalist vibes.
Highlight: An amazing array of cacti.
Taking up residence in a series of farm buildings in the Hertfordshire countryside, the Baileys collective serves up a tasteful selection of original, practical and beautiful things. From old crates repurposed as bookshelves to linen covered loft sofas handmade in the UK, these are items ideal for even the eco household (their workshop uses reclaimed wood to create unique furniture and fittings.) Enjoyed by a clientele that includes Soho House, Liberty of London and Edun, owners Mark and Sally Bailey, have just launched their fourth book 'Imperfect Home' – exploring the beauty in imperfection in the home.
Highlight: Find beautiful homespun Christmas decorations here, including recycled tin stars, made by Amish communities in America, and wooden stockings carved from old floorboards.
Darcy Clothing Ltd., East Sussex
Tucked away down a quiet side street in Lewes, (although the shop is currently in the process of moving round the corner), Darcy's Clothing is a cavalcade of historic menswear. Set up by costume supervisor Catherine Darcy, the idea was originally to supply basic historic menswear for film and TV – collarless shirts, white flounced shirts, striped flannelette pyjamas, monocles and other fripperies. But this Jane Austen inspired haven is not solely for fancy dress frolics and TV appearances, as the costumier’s wares are on sale for daily wear as well as special occasions.
Highlight: The quality quilted knit ties, 1940s style Y-back braces and moustache wax will make brilliant presents for your most dapper friends.
25 years in the making, Utility, located in the North Laine, Brighton, is comprised of no-nonsense, inexpensive attire including enamel mugs, schoolwork books, vintage butter knifes and other domestic practicalities. With crockery from Stoke and stainless cutlery from Sheffield the founding trio (two brothers and a wife) always have something brewing.
Highlight: A recent acquisition of a very hard to find batch of Woodsware china, last made in the 80s, in all three colours.
Keith Fawkes, Hampstead, London
North London’s ramshackle secondhand bookshop, Keith Fawkes, seems like a fictionalisation in itself. Small and poky, this quintessential bookseller, located on Flask Walk, is crammed with charm; all available spaces (poky or otherwise) are stacked high with art books, literary classics and various other disciplines.
Highlight: The staff’s unprecedented knowledge and enthusiasm will help to locate that book on hand writing analysis and other literary lusts.
SOUTH, Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Opening earlier this year, SOUTH, the independent record store named after its locale Southend-on-Sea, sells ‘only the good ones.’ The rookie storeowners and self-professed record nerds, Richard and Stephen Onslow, set up shop selling new and vintage vinyl as well as CDs. From Indie and punk to psychedelia, this is a great spot to pick up unusual and hard to find tracks. Expect to be hit with tracks by White Fence and Jack White upon entry.
Highlight: If they don’t stock it, the owners will be sure to hunt it out for you.
Run by husband and wife team Wendy & James Aldridge, Homeplace takes the elbow grease out of flea market shopping. With an eclectic selection of carefully considered vintage and retro pieces, positioned alongside range of well designed and interesting contemporary items, the independent online emporium mixes styles, personalities and textures. Currently run out of their family home in Walthamstow, plans are in motion for a studio move in 2015.
Highlight: We're obsessed with their vividly coloured range of pottery, vases and jugs.
Text by Gillian Hopper