Delis Galore, Chorlton, Manchester
Instead of spending an afternoon amongst the crowds of Manchester, why not hop on a tram and travel 20 minutes to the trendy south Manchester suburb of Chorlton? The neighborhood is home to dozens of artsy shops, independent vendors and an unparalleled variety of places to eat, drink and party. Highlights include the House of Bystander for its local art; Chorlton Bookshop, a beautiful independent shop; and Franny & Filer, which stocks contemporary artisan jewelry. After shopping you’ll find every type of cuisine: Barbakan Deli is wonderful for a fresh lunch, the tapas at Bar San Juan are the best you’ll find outside of Spain, and the Beech Inn is perfect for a winter pint.
Sneaky Cocktails, Chapel Street, Penzance, Cornwall
Glorious, colorful Chapel Street in Penzance is a treat and perfect for Christmas shopping. Each shop is quirky and very independent – you can do all your Christmas shopping within 100 meters. There is fashion, art, handmade toiletries, toys, plants, antiques, housewares and much more. Remember to look up and enjoy the wonderful architecture of the Egyptian House and other Regency buildings. Lots of pubs, restaurants and cafes if you want to relax. My picks: Fishboypz and The Planted House – and 45 Queen Street for a sophisticated Christmas cocktail.
Memoirs of Ted Lasso, Twickenham, South West London
Church Street is off the main thoroughfare through Twickenham town centre. Regularly closed to traffic, allowing the many cafes and restaurants to spill onto the street, the street offers a truly wonderful selection of independent shops. This part of Twickenham is often used in commercials and was recently featured in Ted Lasso. During Christmas, the street is beautifully adorned with lights and decorations, and the atmosphere is always one of genuine excitement and festive cheer. There are a number of lovely gift, flower and clothing shops and a fabulous enthusiast run record shop, named after nearby Eel Pie Island.
Flavors of Italy, Faversham, Kent
For me it’s only Christmas after I’ve visited Macknade in Faversham. It modestly bills itself as a food hall, but it’s Italy’s most glorious deli and has been open for a staggering 175 years. We buy panettone for the Venezianer family Mostarda dI pere with their delicious cheeses, hams and salamis, delicious fruit, vegetables and local meats. One of the employees pointed out a treat that has recently become a favorite, cherries in a syrup containing balsamic vinegar. It’s sweet enough to pour over ice cream but with a tart edge. I have to go back soon.
Inside the Beer Trap, Belper, Derbyshire
Belper offers a quaint, no-nonsense array of independent shops offering plenty of choice for the festive shopper. Bring the kids to the Ritz cinema and head to The Beer Trap at the end of Main Street for a selection of drinks. Next, I Should Cocoa for delicious handmade chocolates and Reunion Deli for basket-filling chutneys, cheese and coffee beans (and cup and cake at the cafe). At the bottom of the hill, Belle La Vie has enough slippers, perfumes, scarves and scented candles to satisfy any mom. Free parking is available off the market square.
Art and Furniture, Cardiff
Beti Biggs in Pontcanna is outstanding. Shopkeeper Jan’s daughter lives in Amsterdam and you can see how Beti Biggs takes inspiration from Dutch gift and homeware shops – beautiful crockery, a whole wall of candlesticks, lush plants, a selection of Rains bags and coats and chalk by Annie Sloan Color. As well as having a fantastic eye, Jan is incredibly knowledgeable about upcycled furniture, examples of which can be bought, and is always happy to offer advice. Prices range from small impulse purchases to more expensive furniture. Jan’s Instagram page is worth checking out.
Books and Gifts, Ludlow, Shropshire
Browsing the Castle Bookshop in Ludlow recently inspired me to check out the other independent shops in town. With a couple of paperbacks in hand, I headed out into the main marketplace to the Black Bough Gift Shop, which is full of beautiful clocks and stationery ideas, including beautiful Christmas wrapping paper to impress friends and family – whatever’s in it. I then went to a vintage furniture and clothing store on Mill Street and then to Antiques and Junk Gallery 131, across from a small local bakery. I ended up enjoying my purchases at the Green Cafe, watching the river go by, sipping a hot chocolate and sampling homemade cakes.
Beautiful art shop, Glasgow
There is a fantastic independent little art shop called Draw Art Store in De Courcy’s Arcade on Creswell Lane in Glasgow’s West End. Here you will find the most beautiful pencils and pencils for drawing and illustration, as well as a large selection of inks and brushes and stationery. Stock comes from Japan, the US and Europe and it’s almost impossible to leave empty-handed as there’s something alluring about every nook and cranny. The resident shop dog is pretty cute too.
Tacos and Jewellery, Walthamstow, North East London
It’s not just a curio shop, it’s a whole little street of surprising shopping at Walthamstow’s eclectic Wood Street Indoor Market. Enjoy slowly strolling through the selection of shops selling everything from handmade jewellery, curios, antiques, records and vintage clothing to the creations of local manufacturers. Then try one of the small, internationally inspired restaurants like Stow Grab’n’Go for Pakistani street food or Homies On Donkeys, the market’s own Mexican taqueri.
WIN TIP: Arcade of Artistry, Leeds
Thornton’s Arcade, founded in 1878 and branching off from Briggate, the pedestrianized heart of Leeds, showcases a wealth of independent businesses. Pass under the beautiful Ivanhoe clock and you can snag the latest graphic novels from OK Comics, skateboards and streetwear from Welcome, clothing from Masato Jones, and carefully curated photozines and books from Village Books. Relax with a coffee in the Kapow or visit one of the many pubs nearby to round off your shopping experience. Staffed by passionate protagonists in their respective fields, these stores offer a unique personal experience, far removed from the Scattergun’s algorithmic suggestions that you collect while sitting at home and going online.