If you’re headed back to the shops, make sure the independents are your first port of call.
As lockdown measures ease, the shops are beginning to open back up, which means it’s more important then ever to support the city’s independent stores. They haven’t all reopened yet (we’re looking forward to the Corn Exchange’s return on 1st July 2020), but these 17 are all over it. They’ve all got new measures in place to keep you safe, so you can shop with confidence.
Village is a treasure trove of books and zines, covering everything from contemporary art and design to fashion, lifestyle and photography. The stark white walls and pared-back shelves let the books do the talking, but if you’re ever in need of recommendations, their knowledge is second to none. They’re now open on an appointment-only basis, so email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0113 246 9801 to book a slot. You can also shop online.
Rack-upon-rack of records, crammed into every nook and cranny – it’s no wonder the city’s vinyl junkies are obsessed with Crash Records. Their collection spans indie, alternative, rock, punk and metal, with many an exclusive and more than a few rare finds. They’re open for pre-order collections every day from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. You can also stop by to enquire about stock or gig tickets, but you won’t be able to browse the racks like the old days. They do deliveries too.
Aladdin’s Cave is a Leeds institution. They’ve spent the last 30 years scouring the country to create an ever-changing collection of antique jewellery. From 1930s diamond engagement rings to 1970s crystal pendants, every piece is a one-off. Their online shop has continued through the lockdown, but they’ve now re-opened the store. They’re only allowing one customer in at a time and have screens, gloves and hand-sanitiser on-hand.
The Vinyl Whistle
The football’s back and so is The Vinyl Whistle, the record store owned by Premier League referee Jon Moss. Second-hand vinyl is the name of the game here – he’s got everything from hip-hop to jazz, but indie is the big pull, with a vast array LPs and singles from the eighties, nineties and noughties. They have reopened with four zones – only one customer per zone. Hand sanitiser or gloves will be provided on entry and the cafe will be open for takeaways only. The online shop remains open.
Ethically-sourced homeware from around the world, that’s what you’ll find at Yellow Sunrise. You can get everything from Indian kilim rugs to mango wood jewellery boxes and colourful Moroccan lanterns. They also have an incredible selection of incense and essential oils. Their Central Arcade store is now open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. They have social distancing measures in place, with a one-way system and hand sanitiser at the door. You can also order online.
Colours May Vary
It’s hard to pigeon-hole Colours May Vary. Inside you’ll find shelves filled with tomes on art, design, typography and illustration, but it’s more than just a bookshop. They have cards and gifts, homeware and stationery – you can even pick up colourful prints from independent makers. They’ve reopened for click and collect orders from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday. You can also arrange private appointments to visit the shop and gallery. And, of course, they’re still doing deliveries.
This cute-as-a-button store is jam-packed with goodies from independent local and UK designers. That means you can pick up everything from quirky cards and stationery to hand-made jewellery, cool kids wear and swoon-worthy ceramics. The store is open from 10am to 3:30pm, Tuesday to Friday and from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays. They’re allowing two people in at a time and there’s a green light above the door to let you know you can go in. Inside, there’s hand-sanitiser and a one-way system. You can still click and collect or get your order delivered through their website.
Sunny Bank Mills
Part gallery, part shop, 100% unique – that’s Sunny Bank Mills. Inside, you’ll find a carefully curated collection of work from independent artists, designers and makers. In the shop, notebooks, cards and prints rub shoulders with books, rugs and cosmetics, so there’s something for everyone. They have hand-sanitiser on arrival and a one-way system to help you social distance. You can visit from 10am to 4pm, Wednesday to Saturday. They’ve also introduced a click and collect service and a private appointment service for the gallery.
Ecotopia has everything you need to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. This eco-friendly, zero-waste store is well stocked with loose nuts, seeds and pulses, not to mention flour, rice and pasta. In fact, you can get most of your store cupboard essentials in custom-sized, plastic-free packages. The store is open from 11am to 3pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, then from 11am to 4pm on Saturdays. You’ll sanitise your hands on the way in, follow the one-way route around the store and use the paper bags provided. Alternatively, you can shop online.
Relic Records is an absolute beast of store. It’s 1,500 square foot and they’ve filled every inch of it with vintage vinyl and CDs that span every genre. Rock, indie, funk ’n soul, metal – you name it, they’ve got it. They’re back open every day except Wednesday and keeping to their usual hours. There will be hand sanitiser at the door and gloves at the counter. They’re also limiting how many people can enter the shop. Their mail order service is back up and running now too.
Got bored kids at home? Then get yourself over to Armadillo Toys, where they’ve put together a hand-picked collection of traditional and educational toys for the little ones. From dollhouses to teddy bears, learning games to craft activities, you can get everything you need to entertain the kids at home. You can book a private appointment between 9am and 10am or visit during their normal opening hours. There’s hand sanitiser on arrival, a one-way route around the store and a limit on how many people can go in. You can also order online.
Fabrication is a social enterprise that brings together local artists, designers and craftspeople to create an incredibly eclectic collection of one-off pieces. There are pendants made with wildflowers, sandwich wraps made with beeswax and lip-balm making kits made with all manner of natural goodies. They’re open from 11am to 3pm, Wednesday to Saturday. They’ve got hand sanitiser at the entrance, screens at the tills and you can even book a private slot for browsing. You can also shop online.
Flavour Like Fancy
A little independent gift shop, tucked away in Meanwood, Flavour Like Fancy is a wonderland of miscellanea. Once inside, your attention will flick from colourful prints to playful jewellery and quirky kitchenware as you gradually come to accept that you want just about everything. Their online shop is going strong, their click and collection service is a go, but now you can also visit the store. They’re open from 10am to 5pm, Wednesday to Saturday and from 11am to 3pm on Sundays. They’ve introduced a one-way system, limited the number of people inside to two and placed sanitiser at the entrance. You can also shop online.
What’s that? An internationally acclaimed comic book store right on our doorsteps? Yes indeedy. OK Comics is a legend in its own right. They stock the latest releases alongside classic back-dated comics from through the ages, alongside an extensive collection of graphic novels. Their new opening hours are 11am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. They’re only letting one person into the store at a time and each customer gets a five-minute window. You’ll be asked to use the hand sanitiser provided on entry. You can also order online.
A dedicated engagement and wedding ring showroom, Ace Jewellery offers expert advice and quality craftsmanship from its Lands Lane digs. They’ll help you create the perfect ring, as you work together to get the style, size and budget you’re after. They’ve added an intercom, so you can avoid passing others on the stairs, and there will be hand sanitiser at the entrance. They’ve also introduced a new cleaning schedule and installed screens to protect customers and staff.
A sanctuary of calm in the heart of Leeds, Global Tribe is a welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Inside, you’ll find a curious range of homeware, books, and of course, crystals. They’re imported in from all over the world and range from 25p tumbled stones to £5,000 Amethyst geodes. The shop is open from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday and from 12pm to 5pm on Sundays. They’re limiting the number of people who can shop at any one time, hand sanitiser is provided on arrival and gloves are available too. You can also shop online.
Records, records and more records. You can trawl through racks of rock, indie and pop albums or delve into dance, soul and jazz. They have a healthy collection of 7” singles and CDs too. They’re open from 10am to 2pm every day, then for pre-arranged appointments until 5pm. The store has been reorganised to create a one-way system and they’ll be limiting numbers to just 5 people at any one time. There will be hand sanitiser and gloves at the door, which they’d encourage you to use. And if you want something specific, just ask – they’ll get it for you. The online shop is open as always.