Christmas looms over all of our tired, year-weathered heads once again. The shopping centres fill up; the internet becomes slower, beaten down by the weary shoppers who bombard Amazon with unnecessary and panic-stricken orders. The Postman begins drinking heavily as the festive season approaches and after the fifth attempt to deliver the package you said you’d be home to receive, he’s finally cracked. Stop the stress. Stop the madness. Shop local. Sheffield has many wonders you might have walked by without giving a second look so I’m taking you on an independent shop journey- you’re welcome. Here are my top picks of what the independent shops of Sheffield have to offer, follow my gift guide and avoid the last minute purchases of socks and Argos vouchers.
Having just celebrated 15 years, Airy Fairy is so much more than a shop. Originally set up to enable local artists to sell their work, it has developed into the fairy cave of wonders, offering environmentally and ethically sound shopping to its customers as they bask in the crystal filled Atlantis. Anwen is the wonderful lady in charge and sources goods from around the world on the condition that they’re Fairtrade; she recycles and re-uses everything where possible to keep the good vibes flowing. With an organic café attached, free Wi-Fi and a meeting room available for hire; this little shop has everything to keep you going over the festive season. If crystals, Magickal Supplies, candles, aromatherapy oils, and spiritual books are a little beyond you, they have friendly and knowledgeable staff who are happy to help you find that perfect gift. Catch them on Facebook, check out their website (www.airyfairy.org) or do it the old fashioned way and pop in, 239 London Road.
Whistle Stop Sweet Shop:
Take a trip down memory lane with the Whistle Stop Sweet Shop, the traditional store sells all your favourite childhood sweets to get the nostalgia vibes flowing this Christmas. Dip Dabs, Liquorice Root, Shrimps, Chocolate Jazzies are just a few named to tempt your sentimental taste buds; they offer a wide variety of gifts from sweet-cakes to hampers; and for those with a lesser budget they have candy canes or sweetie cones just as that little add on gift. Personalise, customise and epitomise your gifts to your heart’s content, everything is made to order by their team to suit your specification- they only opened on the 29th of September so this is the first year to get your hands on their delicious wares for Christmas. Check them at unit 23 in Orchard Square or hunt them down on Facebook (Whistle Stop Sweet Shop- Sheffield or there website www.thewhistlestopsweetshop.co.uk/) for more information.
Established two years ago on one of the most renowned walks of Sheffield, Bird’s Yard sits proudly. Created to support local businesses and ‘start ups’; this gem is the perfect destination for those quirky stocking fillers – everything from food, to jewellery, to clothes can be found in this treasure chest. For the (awkward, let’s be honest) friend who likes everything original, this is the perfect place; with lots of one-offs and many items exclusive to Bird’s Yard she’ll be singing your praises instead of waiting in the returns queue. The wonderfully dedicated lady running this ship has also opened Birds & Beards a little down the way, offering individual threads waiting for a new life. I think I spotted an Adventure Time jumper in there. Keep your Hawkeye on this on Facebook at ‘Birds Yard Sheffield’. You’ll find it down, on Chapel Walk (that was a Me & My Girl reference, just sayin’).
The Alternative Store:
As a business, this store has been running since 1992 – starting with a market stall in the forum and evolving into a two shop company specialising in Street wear. The Alternative Store does exactly what it says on the tin, provides alternative clothing supplied buy a whole bunch of brands for both guys and gals, some of the names to grace their store include Skull and Bones Boys Club (for both lads and lasses), Crooks & Castles, Disaster Designs, and ‘The Hundreds’. Not only do they stock sweet clothes, but the staff are pretty cool too; an eclectic mix of people who are as diverse as the stock they sell. Trading with a host of American companies and selling plenty of local stuff- catch ‘em while you can in The Forum or at 121 Devonshire Street. Check them out on Instagram: thealternativestore or order online www.thealternativestore.net.
Tipped to be the new Tatty Devine (if you’re a geek like me, you’ll understand what a big deal that is), Sheffield brings forward Sour Cherry; an independent jewellery based business right here in the Steel City. But don’t let that fool you, these lovely lot and forever expanding, now being featured on huge websites. Designing and making all their jewellery at a workshop in Shalesmore, they have just opened up their first shop selling quirky pieces make from acrylic and resin. Items inspired by Pop Culture, to retro, to crafting to Alice in Wonderland, there’s nothing to dislike about this place. With a whole host of Christmas novelty gifts, t’is truly the season jolly, perfect stocking fillers for that quirky friend. Pop down and see the lovely team just inside The Forum on Devonshire Street. Keep your eye on them by checking their Facebook or shop their website at www.sourcherry.co.uk.
Originally created to allow artists an outlet to commercially sell their work and enable them to make an income, particularly students and graduates. Being an artist herself, the lovely Debbie knows exactly how hard that can be- thus Moonko was born. You’ll be glad it was. Stocking bespoke pieces from designers such as Donna Wilson and Faunagraphic which are things you won’t find just anywhere. Having awards from Jacqueline Gold and Theo Paphitis (yes, he was a dragon) under its belt after just one year is pretty mind-blowing. You can find everything from homeware, to jewellery, to clothing (for guys and dolls alike), to soap and candles, to artwork in this little treasure cave; pop in to 89 Division Street to say hello and you might just find the perfect gift you’ve been searching for. Keep up with them everywhere; Facebook (Moonko), Twitter and Instagram (@komoonko) or scour their website http://moonko.co.uk.
Evolution a little place well snuggled between a pub and Schuh, selling an eclectic mix of on-trend homewares, gifts, well-being and fashion accessories at more than reasonable prices; I don’t think I’ve ever been in without buying something (whoops). Their support of Ethical Trading means you buying gifts can make a difference, you’ll be helping ethical businesses all over the world, and any profits not needed are given to charities and social projects- everyone wins! They’ve just had a major refurb and are now offering a loyalty card scheme which is most handy for you skint student lot on the Christmas run up (y’know when you’re out buying last minute gifts for housemate and the family back home you forgot about). Head down to Orchard Square to see what they have to offer, or check out their website www.evolutiontores.co.uk to get your shop on without even having to get dressed.