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But with many venues currently taking a hit due to coronavirus, there’s no better time than now to start shopping, eating and drinking in your local area (remember to always adhere to local restrictions of course).
Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle are absolutely teeming with brilliant independent businesses who could do with some extra help. If you’re in one of these areas and want to do your bit for independent businesses close to you – and enjoy an excellent experience in the process – why not check out one of the following spots? And if you can’t make it in person, you can always browse their online shopping options to show your support from home.
Beanies Whole Foods
For those of you who like to shop local for your groceries as well as your clothing, Beanies Whole Foods is ideal. It’s one of the best-loved indie shops in Sheffield and where you can buy everything you need to whip up some delicious meals.
Head down to the co-op on Barber Road and browse shelves piled high with fresh veggies, wholefoods, frozen products, healthy snacks and specialty items for those following a gluten-free or vegan diet. Beanies also offer a brilliant organic fruit and veg box delivery service if you live in the local area!
Call yourself a food obsessive? A trip to the largest food hall in the North should definitely be on the cards! Lodged in a former cutlery factory (hence the name!) on Kelham Island, Cutlery Works boasts industrial chic décor and 12 independent vendors who serve up all manner of tasty cuisine from around the globe.
Once you’ve queued up outside (mask on, of course!), sat down at your table and downloaded Cutlery Work’s ordering app, you’ll have the tricky challenge of choosing between 100+ tasty dishes. Options range from fresh sushi and onion bhaji wraps to mouth-watering fried chicken or seitan from Slick Chick’s. Sounds amazing!
Pretty pot plants, handcrafted ceramics, gorgeous jewellery, homemade soaps – what’s not to love about MoonKo?! This boho chic store sits alongside loads of other independent shops on trendy Division Street and it’s an emporium for all things unique and artsy.
Discover one-of-a-kind items designed by local artisans and creatives, all of which are 100% handmade. MoonKo is a particularly great place to shop for some great gifts for your loved ones (or pressies for yourself if you need a little pick-me-up…).
Expecting to have lots of free time on your hands this winter? That gives you the perfect excuse to catch up on some reading! Paramount Books is one of the best independent book shops in Manchester and it’s been providing the city’s residents with fantastic reading material since 1965.
Found just behind the Arndale Centre on Shudehill, Paramount Books is stocked with a huge selection of second hand and vintage titles from both mainstream and lesser-known authors. Find rare copies of classics or browse through the shop’s awesome comic book and magazine collections from decades gone by.
Located in Manchester’s much-loved Northern Quarter, Afflecks is an emporium of quirky indie shops and a great place to pick up some gifts.
Music fans will love the cleverly named Vinyl Resting Place, while art lovers should find some real gems in the NQ Gallery. There’s also a whole host of shops selling weird and wonderful items, from rare Pokémon cards and Star Wars memorabilia to mystical crystals and body gems.
Affleck’s also hosts a handful of unique food outlets, including the Japanese anime themed Animaid Café and cosy Ginger’s Comfort Emporium. The latter’s menu includes milkshakes, meringues and other delicious treats!
Another Heart to Feed
Manchester is jam-packed with incredible independent cafés serving up mouth-watering cuisine and great tasting coffee!
The Northern Quarter is a go-to for locally-run brunch spots and it’s where you’ll find the second outpost of Another Heart to Feed. If you’d rather stay out of the city centre though, the original venue is lodged in West Didsbury on popular Burton Road.
Book a table for breakfast or lunch and dig into wholesome dishes like pulled pork bagels, smashed avocado with feta and fruity acai bowls. Another Heart to Feed sources their ingredients locally where possible, including their coffee beans, teas, bread and milk.
Keen to update your wardrobe with some new threads? Shopping local at this Newcastle vintage store should definitely be on the cards!
Waceland started off as a pop-up shop before it moved to its permanent premises in the city’s gorgeous Central Arcade. Here you can browse the racks for one-of-a-kind pieces and seriously cool vintage streetwear from the world’s biggest brands. You’ll find options for men and women, plus some awesome accessories to give your outfits an instant refresh.
The Honey Tree
This amazing organic food shop has been a fixture on Newcastle’s Heaton Road for years. It’s a great place to pick up some groceries, with almost all of The Honey Tree’s items sourced from local farms and distributers.
Fill up your kitchen cupboards with local tea, coffee, honey and chutneys or sign up for The Honey Tree’s veg box service – they offer both home delivery and collection. Trying to limit your carbon footprint? Check out the zero-waste refill station where you can stock up on rice, pasta and pulses, as well as eco-friendly toiletries.
Stack is your one stop shop in Newcastle for great street food, brilliant art exhibits, unique gifts and zen yoga classes. The venue is located on Pilgrim Street and it’s made up of loads of shipping containers which have been transformed into trendy restaurants and retail spaces.
You can tempt your tastebuds with street food options like grilled tikka naan wraps, fresh sushi rolls, beef brisket nachos and loaded fries. Stack’s currently operating 100% table service to allow you to safely socially distance. Once you’re done eating, why not browse the shops, pick up bespoke perfume at Luxury Scents or admire delicate jewellery at XIE+CO.
If you do decide to check out one of the above independent businesses, it’s important to stay safe by following the latest coronavirus guidelines as well as any specific rules set out by the venue. And if you can’t make it in person, plenty of them have online shopping options so you can still do your bit for them from your home.
Shopping local in your hometown or city is now more important than ever. If you do need to travel outside of your local area, remember that current guidelines across much of the North advise that you should always check the local restrictions before travelling.
If you’re travelling with us, you can discover more information on what we’re doing to keep you safe onboard our trains and book tickets before you travel to save yourself time and money.