If you are spending Small Business Saturday (6th December) shopping by following my little route round York, the first half of my top twenty independent shops will have brought you for coffee in York Cocoa House. Now you need to head towards The Minster and turn left into High Petergate, where you will find
a delightful shop full of everything you need for making your own Christmas decorations and presents, or to buy arts and crafts items. Entering this shop is a bit like going on a treasure hunt and they have an online shop too.
Mullen and Mullen
A little bit further down High Petergate, is Mullen and Mullen, owned by the two Mullen brothers and which sells gorgeous gentlemen’s clothes and accessories – check out the ties, socks and cufflinks as stocking fillers as well as tailored shirts and British made pullovers.
Going back into York past the Theatre Royal, turn right into Museum Street, another to have a series of independent shops and cafes. As I have no small children to buy for I have to pass the rather lovely Corky’s but can’t resist
They sell a huge range of flavoured spirits, vinegars and oils. The staff are really knowledgeable and can help you choose the best product for you – then decant it into a container from their demi-johns. Perfect for alcoholic gifts, but also for the keen chef as the vinegars and olive oils are so nice you could almost drink them too. And they wrap them beautifully. They describe themselves as the liquid deli – here’s why..
Banks Music Shop
One of York’s longest established businesses is Banks, now on Lendal. I used to go here as a teenager to buy my 45s for 79p! Now it sells musical instruments, sheet music, song collections, classical CDs and gifts for music lovers, there’s usually a song book under the tree in our family.
Arts of the Dragon
From the end of November, Parliament Street will be the venue for the St Nicholas Christmas Fair, where many local craft and food businesses will be selling their products. One of these stalls is Arts of The Dragon, which sells scarves, bags and mobiles which are sourced ethically from places like India and Thailand. I’ll be working the stall on Small Business Saturday, so come and say “hello.”
Hebden Tea Company
Quality tea is making a come-back and the Hebden Tea Company down The Shambles are meeting the demand for more adventurous tea drinkers. I’m a bit of an old traditionalist and love their breakfast blend, but the staff love to advise you on all sorts of teas and there’s usually a few tasters brewing.
Barnitt’s on Colliergate, the one parallel to The Shambles, is another York institution. It is a massive independent department store stocking a vast array of homewares and hardware. It makes it on to this list by virtue of the fact it has a brilliant selection of kitchen ware. In terms of gifts it is an Aladdin’s Cave, I will warn you, however, that the customer service can be a bit frustrating at times.
If you continue straight out of town from Colliergate you cross into Fossgate and Walmgate. These two streets are very much on the up, by virtue of a thriving coffee and bar culture. I could write a top ten of eating places just from these two streets. On the back of this some brilliant independent shops are thriving too – Swirl, Give a Dog a Bone and my favourite:
Here you can choose paper a cover and wording to make up your own bespoke note books, scrapbooks, photo albums. This is the place for one off personalized gifts, lovely staff and great value for money. A true hero of the High Street or order on line.
Bicis y mas is my last stop. As I’ve already stated you’ll be spoilt for choice for somewhere to have coffee, but this new business serves great coffee and vegetarian food and you can shop for the cyclist in the family, the guys are really knowledgeable and will help you choose the best bikes and/or accessories.
Thank you for joining me on a tour of twenty independent shops in York over the last couple of weeks. The alert ones among you will have noticed that I’ve only highlighted 19 shops. That’s because you need food for Christmas – turkey, veg, pud, mincepies and foodie gifts too. We are blessed around York with some excellent butchers (Swain’s on the market, M&K Butchers in Bishopthorpe Road and Dave Wilson in Huntington to name a few) but one shop can provide all your foodie Christmas needs:
The Farmers Cart in Towthorpe. Yes, you do need to get in your car, but it is well worth visiting this winter wonderland. The turkeys and pork are raised at the farm and most of the winter veg is grown there too. They have a policy of stocking local foodie gifts from chocolate to chutney, cheese, beer, biscuits and cakes. You name it, they have it.
So, this Christmas think about supporting your local high street and suppliers – you’ll get great value for money, good customer service, more unique presents and you are putting money into the local economy.