We’re blessed with all the high street chains we could ever wish for in Leeds, especially since the opening of the Trinity Centre, and it would be so simple (albeit crowded and stressful) to just stroll into the city centre, throw handfuls of cash at a few key shop assistants, and walk out with all the Christmas presents I could possibly need. And in fact, what with the length of some people’s shopping lists, and the eye watering costs that Christmas can incur, I wouldn’t judge anyone who did exactly that.
But, this year I’m trying to be careful about where I splash my cash. Whilst I’m not technically against large chains, I can’t help but feel it would be a shame if that’s all we had. Spending with our local independent businesses mean we maintain a wider choice of products, support British entrepreneurs and keep more money within our local economy. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce/remind you of a few local businesses that I’m sure would appreciate your business over the festive period.
I know for a fact that if there’s anything my family like unwrapping on Christmas Day, it’s food. There are a plethora of Leeds indies offering hampers as gifts this year, packed with unique and carefully curated collections of the most delicious food and drink. Try Salvo’s for authentic Italian produce, Friends of Ham for cured meats, cheese and wine, Millie’s for Yorkshire food hampers and even a gluten free hamper, or Hepworth’s Deli, who have a popup Christmas hamper shop in Queen’s Arcade. Other businesses to consider are George and Joseph for cheese, The Yummy Yank for cakes and other sweet stuff, or Market Delivered to get your Christmas dinner ingredients direct to your door from independent market traders.
Whilst I’d love to make all my own gifts, I’m very realistic about my (lack of) talent in that department! Fabrication Crafts is a social enterprise supporting independent Yorkshire makers, nestled in the Light shopping centre. They’re worth a follow on Facebook; they’ve been posting pictures of their gorgeous Christmas stock for the last couple of weeks. A bit further out of town, you’ll find Our Handmade Collective, a hub featuring crafts from almost sixty local makers. Both stores are packed with beautiful jewellery, cushions, furniture, cards, prints, blankets, home decor items and much more. There’s no better way to support local Leeds craftspeople.
Colours May Vary and Chirpy are my favourite shopping stops for arty types. Both have a gorgeous range of prints, cards, gifts and stationery, plus Colours May Vary stock books while Chirpy is your best bet for blankets, mugs and jewellery. Don’t forget, if you’re already in Chapel Allerton to visit Chirpy, you’re surrounded by some beautiful gift shops including Glasshouse Gallery, Radish and Armadillo Toys.
Perhaps your intended recipient is a minimalist or a go-getter looking for experiences over possessions? We’re not short of fun things to do in Leeds. Tick Tock Unlock is a live action escape game that’s fun for all – review to follow! If I was just booking one thing at West Yorkshire Playhouse next year, it would be To Kill a Mockingbird; the Playhouse excels at atmospheric, swampy American drama. Animal lovers would love to feed the penguins at Harewood House, and fine diners might appreciate a luxury or pop-up dining experience. Keep an eye on Dinner at the Manor, Trestle, The Noise of Strangers and The Man Behind the Curtain – not technically a pop up, but certainly a special Leeds dining experience.
Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list. I’m really feeling the Leeds independent love, so please go ahead and share your favourites in the comments. Also, don’t forget Small Business Saturday on the 6th December, a whole day dedicated to supporting your local businesses just in time for Christmas.