Why buy the same as everyone else when Leeds is chock-full of indies?
As we move into December, it is becoming slightly more socially acceptable to mention the “C” word. John Lewis, Harvey Nichols & co are no doubt reinforcing their shelves in anticipation of the extra weight of stock that will be needed to cope with the demand of shoppers scurrying about, anxiously looking for last-minute socks for their cousin’s neighbour’s son’s mate.
But why should the big names get all the custom? Why buy the same thing as everyone else up and down the country, when Leeds is chock-full of innovative independents who are more than worth a look this December? I’m a big believer in keeping it local, so here are ten of the best that Leeds has to offer.
George & Joseph
Nothing says “have an acceptable festive season” like a massive box of cheese, and nobody does it better than George & Joseph. The award-winning cheesemonger stocks a an impressive range of cheese, with subscriptions, hampers and even celebration cakes available both in store and online. Of course, cheese is best enjoyed with its best friends, crackers and chutney. You’ll find all that and more at their shop in Chapel Allerton.
140 Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton LS7 4NZ. Website: George & Joseph
If you like your wine and spirits, you’ll no doubt love Latitude. With over 1500 bottles to choose from, a visit to their shop is an adventure in itself, but get into conversation with one of the shop’s excellent staff and you’ll soon find yourself three tasters in, with a very heavy bag in your hand. For Christmas, Latitude also stocks a range of miniatures which make ideal stocking fillers, and for real fans of the shop, they have released their own single malt whisky to celebrate ten years of opening. The exclusive cask-strength Latitude X is out now, and supply is limited.
5 Cherry Tree Walk, Leeds LS2 7EB. Website: Latitude
Take a stroll through Thornton’s Arcade and you’ll come across Village books, a small, intimate bookshop that’s bursting with character. You’ll find self-published zines, a range of art, fashion and design publications and a fantastic supply of books with carefully-selected covers. They also stock a small selection of t-shirts, tote bags and pins – ideal gifts for friends and family.
3 Thornton’s Arcade, Leeds LS1 6LQ. Website: Village Books
A veritable treasure trove of quirky vintage and retro furniture, ornaments and more, The Cave has to be one of the most enjoyable shops to visit in Leeds. Ok, there’s a website with products arranged by type, but you don’t want to miss the opportunity to pop in – you never know what you might find. And with two floors to explore, you’d better schedule an hour or two… or three.
122 Long Row, Horsforth LS18 5AA. Website: The Cave
Colours May Vary
Colours May Vary is another independent bookshop, but its stock is quite different from Village Books, meaning that both are well worth a visit. Of course, there’s a great selection of books and magazines, but they also have a range of ornamental pieces, stationery and cards for all occasions. And yes, a Christmas section has made its way on to the website – go and check it out.
Unit 1a, Munro House, Duke Street, Leeds LS9 8AG. Website: Colours May Vary
If you’re after jewellery, Aladdin’s Cave is the place for you. For over a quarter of a century, they’ve been sourcing and selling stunning vintage pieces in their Queens Arcade home. There’s something for everyone in terms of style, colour and price too, so it’s always worth a look if you’re passing. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill stock; think antiques and future family heirlooms.
19 Queens Arcade, Leeds LS1 6LF. Website: Aladdin’s Cave
On The Wall
Having recently moved to their new venue in the Corn Exchange, On The Wall are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Their large collection of film and music posters and clothing is truly something to behold for lovers of the big screen, but if you really want to give someone a personal touch this Christmas, why not get something framed? On The Wall will frame anything as long as its vaguely flat – posters, prints, pictures and sports shirts, in a range of frame styles.
Unit 7, The Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR Website: On The Wall
Our Handmade Collective
This isn’t a shop as you know it. Rather, Our Handmade Collective is a space where independent designers can stock their products. It’s an absolute must for smaller gifts, which represents as close to a theme as you can get. But this is also the chance to see what the designers of Leeds can do, with well over 50 different independent brands represented.
19 Grand Arcade, Vicar Lane, Leeds LS1 6PG. Website: Our Handmade Collective
The Great Yorkshire Shop
I’ll tell yer this fer nowt; there’s nowt so queer as folk. Expect tea towels and mugs with these and several other Yorkshire-isms, but also a huge array of local brands such as Henderson’s Relish and Yorkshire Tea in the Great Yorkshire Shop. They’re very well-prepared for the festive season too, so it’s definitely worth a visit to their Corn Exchange shop to see what’s what. And if you’re really stuck, their website is put together specifically to help you with your gift choices.
The Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR. Website: The Great Yorkshire Shop
Another Leeds independent that has found its home in the Corn Exchange, Northern Acoustics specialise in Martin, Sigma and Faith acoustic guitars, as well as amps and accessories to match. Their service is focused on friendliness, and they’re welcoming whether you’re a beginner or a budding Michael Hedges. They have an online store with free shipping, but the shop is set up to accommodate trying before buying – plus, they’re always up for a chat.
The Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR. Website: Northern Acoustics