it’s almost black friday, and the supposed ‘biggest shopping day of the year.’
except the reality is that such heavy discounting over just one day – or week (‘black fivedays’ is the new buzzword apparently) – can spell disaster for small independent stores, as customers hold fire on making purchases for christmas during november, expecting heavily discounted products to hit the shelves over black friday weekend when the truth is that independent stores can rarely afford to offer such hefty reductions.
i’ve been disheartened to see so many of my favourite local boutiques and designer-makers struggling this month, feeling hugely under-valued by their local communities as the sales they rely on falter, and the pressure to dramatically discount items to coerce sales mounts. the next four weeks leading up to christmas can really make-or-break a small business, and it’s vitally important to support your favourite indies as much as possible during the holiday season, lest they fail to be around for you to enjoy in the new year.
we love getting to know our customers; asking about their plans for the weekend, recommending great places to get coffee, buy bread or enjoy a beer. we love sharing our knowledge about our products, how a piece has been made and where. we love taking the time to hand-wrap your purchase, including a little handwritten note and offering to drop your order off if you’re local to our store and it’s too heavy to carry. you see, these are the small things that big companies can’t offer. it’s what makes us indies personable and different. come on guys, don’t choose flitting discounts over service and quality! ~ rachael otterwell
it’s easy to forget that every sale counts for a small local business. you don’t have to buy everything in store in order to support them – although if you want to and have the means to, they would be over the moon, believe me! making considered, thoughtful purchases of items you know your friends and family will love will make the world of difference, and bring joy not only to the individual shopkeeper, but also the designer/maker of the product you’ve purchased, the person you’re gifting the lovely present to, and the british high street as a whole, since you’ll be saving it from the ever-increasing monotony of indenti-kit shopping centres and continually eroded community spirit.
so, for all of you up here in manchester, i wanted to share my favourite local boutiques you should definitely make the time to visit over the next four weeks. no matter how many gifts you need to purchase for the holiday season (and i’m not urging spending for spending’s sake here), just taking the time to stop by and discover the beautiful and considered products they stock, and chat to the lovely sales people behind the till, will bring some much-needed festive joy to both them, and you.
stepping into beaumont organic is like stepping into a little oasis of calm among the hubbub of manchester’s northern quarter. specialising in luxury casual garments made from natural, organic materials, beaumont organic’s first bricks-and-mortar store is full to the brim with gift ideas for the ethical shopper, that extend beyond the brand’s own-label contemporary easy-to-wear fashion pieces, to include locally produced ceramics, naturally scented candles and handmade one-of-a-kind artisan homewares.
beaumont organic, 49 hilton street, m1
form lifestyle store
tucked away down a side alley between oldham and lever streets in the northern quarter, form lifestyle store may not be the easiest to stumble upon purely by accident, but is definitely one worth going out of your way to hunt down. the form lifestyle ethos is to champion slow-living; an important thing to keep in mind when shopping this holiday season, in my opinion: choosing to buy fewer, well-considered products that have been built to last and will be truly appreciated and used by the recipient. you can’t go wrong with a gift picked up here; every piece has been carefully selected with an eye for design, function and simplicity, and produced in small batches by talented, independent, designer-makers.
form lifestyle store, 6 bradley street, m1
located in the stamford quarter in the heart of altrincham – just across from the award-winning market hall – idaho is a gem of a store showcasing products that will bring an injection of colour, fun and delight to any home this christmas. a perfect place to stock up on useful and beautiful stocking filler gifts, as well as original jewellery designs and quirky home goods, idaho is a one-stop-shop to meet many – if not all – of your gifting requirements this festive season. you can even pick up your (unique and stylish) christmas cards whilst you’re there!
idaho, 56 greenwood street, altrincham, wa14
a super stylish lifestyle store meets coffee and wine bar, porter+cole is a great place to stock up on christmas gifts whilst also enjoying a masterfully crafted coffee or a large glass of vino after a hard day’s work. located on the edge of the northern quarter, right next to popular food hall mackie mayor, this is the place to dash in to for a last minute gift that looks considered and beautifully thought out. there’s a refined edit of table and glass ware from many of my favourite scandinavian design brands (think broste copenhagen and house doctor), presented alongside an array of stylish stationery, luxury chocolate and sleek beauty brands.
porter+cole, 124 high street, m1
the aforementioned object is a small but perfectly formed independent store in chorlton, selling a unique mix of clothing, homeware, jewellery and plants. the ever-changing inventory retains a focus on quality design-led pieces that owners rachael and alex otterwell have sourced on trips to scandinavia and the states, mixing unique vintage finds with a carefully curated selection of contemporary designer-makers. right now the store is decked out with a modern rustic festive feel, and you can stock up on all you need to deck your own halls just as stylishly, with woven wool snowflakes and striking star centrepieces.
object, 519 barlow moor road, chorlton, m21
oklahoma is definitely manchester’s most eclectic treasure trove to make a beeline to for christmas trinkets. piled high with unique and colourful gifts for every pocket, it should be your first port of call for amusing stocking fillers, enviable secret santa gifts and humour-filled greetings cards for the holiday season.
if anyone is looking for the perfect gift for me this christmas, they really should be hotfooting it down to moth on burton road (hint hint). owned by stylist and interior designer hazel marchant, the store has a beautifully curated edit of tactile design objects, jewellery and accessories that tap straight in to the current scandi-boho trend. there are plenty of pieces that would be perfect for adorning a relaxed contemporary dining table this holiday season, plus a plethora of cushions for updating your living area in time for your seasonal hosting duties. plus, if you time your visit just right, you’ll also be met with an abundance of soft squidgy cuddles from the store’s resident toy poodle, monty, who is well worth the visit alone!
moth, burton road, didsbury
new to the northern quarter this year, nola is the second outpost of the brighton-based boutique, offering stylish clothing, footwear, jewellery and accessories with a focus on considered modern design. just in time for christmas they’ve opened up the second floor of their port-street store, offering select homeware pieces from nordic brands such as skandinavisk, hk living and claystreet, alongside their stylish edit of fashion pieces from the likes of selected femme, marimekko and kings of indigo.
nola, port street, m1
earlier this year nordic muse moved into their new home at hatch; manchester’s new pop-up retail, food and drink destination on oxford road, giving founder jenny maxwell the chance to expand her product selection from her own-brand jewellery collection into a streamlined edit of contemporary and unpretentious nordic design brands. the space may be small but its packed with hugely giftable items that are all so reasonably priced you won’t feel the pinch if you decide to duplicate your purchases and treat yourself at the same time!
nordic muse, hatch, oxford road, m1
rose & grey
having started as an online-only business, rose & grey (lead image) opened their bricks-and-mortar showroom on an industrial estate in altrincham a couple of years ago, offering an eclectic mix of furniture, lighting, kitchenware and decorative accessories. currently decked out as a beautiful winter wonderland, it’s well worth making the trip out to store to stock up on stylish decorations, wreathes and garlands, as well as tableware for the big day, and gorgeous gift ideas for the modern rustic or industrial style lover.
rose & grey, altrincham
do let me know if i’ve missed off any of your favourite manchester design or lifestyle stores and i’ll be sure to check them out!