The big budget Christmas ads are out. Maybe you’ve loll’d at Kevin the carrot, shed a tear for the very cute and inept little dragon, but we’re here to reveal the real stars of the festive period: our independents.
They haven’t got millions to spend on flashy adverts and they haven’t all got shiny shop fronts to tempt you in, but they have got incredible things you can buy for the people you love. And buying local is a fast track to that warm and fuzzy feeling it usually takes 3 mulled wines to achieve.
Here’s just a taste of the amazing places where you can shop local:
Follow Your Art
We’re so lucky in Liverpool to have art and gift shops selling the work of local artists, designers and makers. Jewellery, prints, candles, all kinds of lovely stuff from local creatives that everyone will love. We recommend ArtQuarter, MerseyMade, Arts Hub, Florence & Fox, Liverpool Gift Gallery and The Nest. There’s also a number of different art markets around the city worth heading to, especially the Winters Art Market at Liverpool Cathedral on 7th December.
Got someone in your life who loves a gouda time? Someone who camembert to live without a fridge stuffed with cheese? Give them the gratest gift this year and get them a vat full of goodies from the Liverpool Cheese Company. Head to Woolton and choose from 200 different varieties – the guys here are super helpful and will pick out the perfect wedge, plus you can get local chutneys and crackers too.
Red Brick Market
Set a good couple of hours aside before setting foot in the Red Brick Market. It’s a rabbit warren of independent traders, and you’re guaranteed to become lost amidst the weird and wonderful, the unique and the quirky. From vintage clothes to local art, vegan treats to rare antiques, it’s a pretty magical place and guaranteed to offer up some very different gift options to your standard high-street fayre.
Wake up and smell the coffee
Think old twinkly eyes Clooney really wakes up and has a coffee pod? Nah, we’re not buying it. He’ll have locally sourced, freshly ground whole beans, and if you’ve got a coffee connoisseur in your life that’s what they deserve too. So get yourself to one of our local roasters and give the gift of maximum flavour this year. Try 92 Degrees, Crosby Coffee or Neighbourhood Coffee Roasters for the perfect cup.
Plant a big one
Christmas trees may come and go, but foliage is for life not just for December. Houseplants can clean the air, boost healing, help wellbeing and make even scruffiest corners look cared for. And there are loads of local places to get your hands on the green stuff. Root Houseplants in The Bluecoat have some banging specimens and out of town Aigburth Hall Nurseries and Whitakers in Prescot are bursting at the seams with botanical beauties.
Know someone with a sweet tooth and refined tastes? Well step away from the Milk Tray, leave the chocolate orange in the 3 for 2’s and get them something really special. Pop to the Little Macaron Shop in Waterloo or Artisane in Woolton for delicate pillowy macarons in all kinds of drool-inducing flavours or head to Dafna’s and get them the decadent cheesecake of their dreams. And if you can resist getting yourself a couple of Maclairs or a hunk of carrot cake as a reward for smashing your shopping, you’re stronger than us.
Utility is a Liverpool success story. Since 1999 it’s been a Bold Street go-to for high-design pieces and quirky stocking fillers and now with the Liverpool One store you can get your fix at either end of town. Jewellery, candles, stationery, books, even food and drink – whether you’re looking for classy or cheeky, cool or cute, you’ll find something a little bit different at Utility.
When a season demands that we eat, drink and be merry who are we to argue? If you’ve got a beer aficionado to buy for, don’t just get them a generic set with a bland bottle and a crap glass in, treat them to some quality local brew. Crosby Beer Shop, Craft Taproom and The Handyman (amongst others) all do bottles to take away and remember to test for research, you don’t want to gift a bad brew…
Christmas number ones used to be more hotly contested than the last halloumi fry. Alas the halcyon days of Cliff versus Blobby and Rage versus X Factor are over, but there’s still space under the tree for a record or two. And record shops don’t come any better than the ones we’re lucky to have in Liverpool. We’re talking Dig Vinyl, Defend Vinyl, Probe Records, Phase One and more. We’re not promising you’ll find Mistletoe and Wine, but you will find new and vintage vinyl, loads of indie labels and some rare stock.
Food hampers. They promise so much, yet generally seem to deliver some average wine, a tin of shortbread and the innards of a hamster cage. So, if you know someone who would love to get their chops around some incredible produce just head to Delifonseca and get some goodies to make your own. The shelves here groan with the best local, regional and international produce, from wine and spirits to hot sauces and quirky store cupboard staples, plus there’s a huge array of sweet treats, biscuits and chocolate.
Make a meal of it
Another sure-fire hit with the foodies in your life are restaurant vouchers. Is there a better gift than the promise of a meal in the New Year in your favourite gaff? (especially when you’ve splurged hard on Christmas presents and December nights out…) More and more of our independent favourites now offer gift vouchers, including Maray, Neon Jamon, Wreckfish, The Quarter and Hafla Hafla.
Books, Glorious Books
In times like these we need places like News from Nowhere. This not-for-profit, radical community bookshop has been serving the city since 1974. As you’d expect you’ll find plenty of political and historical titles but also shelves crammed with fiction, kids’ books and friendly staff who will gladly order anything in for you that they don’t stock. You won’t get a warmer welcome and you’re not buying your books from tax dodgers – that’s a win-win. We’d also recommend Reid of Liverpool, Kernaghan Books, Henry Bohn Books and more.
We don’t need an excuse to wander down Liverpool’s version of Diagon-Alley, especially at this time of year, but if we did R & H would do it every time. This is no standard wine shop, it’s a place that sells very special drops. They are big into organic and biodynamic wines and love to recommend bottles from their well-stocked shelves. So if there’s someone on your list who knows their Montepulciano from their Malbec call in and the guys here will find you the perfect gift. For natural wine lovers, head to Bunch on Berry St for a bottle of funk guaranteed to make post-Christmas dinner charades interesting.
Put on a show
Well actually, get someone else to, you’ll be busy stuffing your face with turkey. We’re blessed with amazing theatres, galleries and venues all working hard to line up incredible programmes for next year. There’s Stacey Dooley and Oi Frog at The Playhouse, a Linda McCartney retrospective at the Walker and Stewart Lee at the Philarmonic and loads more. Snap up some tickets and give your special someone, something to look forward to.
Support local craftsmanship
Believe it or not, some pretty world-class British craftsmanship happens in our very own city. Handmade, heartfelt, quality ingredients and passion are the cocktail that is keeping craft alive. For bags check out Leather Satchel Co, or visit their shop on Albert Dock to find out how they’ve been going since 1966. Wicker Wings, a wicker bag company started in Liverpool by a brother and sister duo who were inspired by their Nan’s Chinese wicker bags. For belts, wallets and more head to Rawhide Custom’s website here and pick yourself a product you’ll be able to pass down one day.
Now That’s What I Call Vintage
As well as a ton of vintage events happening around the city, there’s bricks and mortar dedicated to it all year-round. From clothes to furniture and from antiques to ornaments – there’s plenty of places to rummage around. For clothes head to Resurrection and COW Vintage on Bold Street, Bijou & Vintage in Cains Brewery or Total Recall on Seel Street. For antiques and ornaments head to 69A on Renshaw Street, Penny Lane Emporium or Antwakkis Bazaar on Smithdown Road.