A Devon shop selling hand poured luxury candles made from 100% recycled wax; a specialist tea shop, cafe and tea retailer in Camarthen; an independent community bookshop in Norfolk run by volunteers, who met as strangers in a pub in 2013, and a cheese shop in the historic Welsh castle village of Rhuddlan are among 25 independent shops around the UK to be named on the shortlist for the title of Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2019 today.
The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC). The competition celebrates the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local communities. It is sponsored by Near St, the retail technology company connecting products in shops to people searching nearby, and booost, a soon to be launched loyalty, gift and promotions app for independent retailers and their customers. The winner will be announced at an event at the Houses of Parliament on November 5th.
The other finalists include:
The Hours Cafe Bookshop & Deli in Brecon, Powys, which describes itself as “a tranquil, bijou sanctuary of lovingly curated books & treats”; For The Love Of The North in Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear, an art gallery which claims to be the only shop that brings together many of the creative talents from within the North East; Moo Like A Monkey, a children’s shop in Folkestone, Kent, which celebrates individualism, diversity and design, and Jumbo Records in Leeds, an independent record shop that encourages local musicians to bring their homemade CDs and records for them to sell.
“Independent retailers are the lifeblood of UK high streets,” explains Mark Walmsley, Chairman of the Independent Retailers Confederation. They offer tradition, choice and innovation through the diversity of niche products and services. Independent retailers have been, and still are, an integral part of local communities all around the UK.”
“The Best Small Shops competition enables us to celebrate this unique industry. It is all about recognising the community and culture that is independent retail, giving us the chance to highlight its innovation, customer service, commitment to community and diversity.”
The 25 shops named on the shortlist are:
The Recycled Candle Company in Exeter, which sells candles made from recycled wax fragranced with their own bespoke scents created in collaboration with a UK-based French perfumier.
The Naked Pantry New Forest in New Milton, Hampshire is a Zero Waste plastic free shop where you can bring your own containers to refill with all your kitchen pantry items, household cleaning products, personal care items, and toiletries.
Richardsons Of Whitehaven in Cumbria offers a wide range of fine wines, rare vintage ports, hampers, gins and also roasts its own coffee beans in store. The shop is also the honorary Consulate office to the US Navy by a historical quirk.
Oliver’s Brighton, which describes itself as a one-of-a-kind experience for fans of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World. The shop sells over 500 officially licensed items ranging in price from £1 to £600, from sweets to collectibles.
Tea Traders in Camarthen is an award winning specialist teashop, cafe and tea retailer. It stocks over 100 loose-leaf teas, as well as quality tea wares, tea gifts, and Welsh crafts. The cafe also provides training and employment for young adults with learning disabilities.
The Little Cheesemonger is a cheese shop set in the historic castle village of Rhuddlan in North Wales. It stocks cheese from tiny local producers like a seasonal Ewe’s raw milk cheese that melts like an ice cream at room temperature, right over to nutty hard cheese with aged crunchy bits from sandstone caves in Switzerland.
Whalley Warm & Dry, a family-run outdoor shop in Whalley, Lancashire with a multi-award-winning Specialist Boot Fitting & Customisation Service in store.
Bristol-based Papadeli, which has a well-established reputation for incredible cakes and superb takeaway dishes, cooked on site. The deli also stocks a selection of foods from local producers and further across Europe and claims one of the best cheese counters in the city.
Home Bake in Southwell, Nottinghamshire is ideal if you want to bake or decorate a cake, selling a range of ingredients and decorations to help produce a real showstopper. The shop also introduced a #payit forward scheme – every 200th customer receives £5 to do whatever they want with – the only condition is they inform the shop what it was.
Cavanagh & Baker, The Island Made Emporium at Shanklin, Isle of Wight stocks everything from fine arts to country wines, with everything in store coming from within the 25-mile radius of the island, reducing its carbon footprint.
Gemz By Emz in Romford, Essex specialises in personalised jewellery and gifts, engraved with the photo, handwriting, text and even pregnancy scan of your choice. It also creates stunning diamond dust glitter canvasses and personalised cushions.
Jumbo Records in Leeds is an independent record shop that opened in 1971. It sells vinyl and CDs across most musical genres and encourages local musicians to bring their homemade CDs and records for them to sell.
Moo Like A Monkey in Folkestone is children’s shop, which celebrates individualism, diversity and design. The shop space is also available for local events, from a sock-Caterpillar workshop to a social event for new mums who maybe feeling isolated.
Mooch Gifts And Home, an independent Gift Retailer with stores in Stourport on Severn & Bewdley Worcestershire. Both stores collect for the West Midlands Air Ambulance and they also run several Shop Trails to encourage footfall around the local traders.
Small Stuff in Sheffield specialises in ethical and eco-conscious lifestyle products and clothing for small children. It also collaborates with other local businesses by hosting story time, workshops and events all led by other small businesses in the community.
Kett’s Books in Wymondham, Norfolk is an independent community bookshop run by volunteers, who met as strangers in a pub in 2013 and agreed to get together to save the town’s bookshop from closing, choosing to run it toward a shared vision of community outreach, school visits, working with care homes, running programmes for children, and author visits.
The Hours Cafe Bookshop & Deli in Brecon describes itself as “a tranquil, bijou sanctuary of lovingly curated books & treats nestled in a building affectionately referred to by locals and visitors as ‘the wonky green shop’.”
For The Love Of The North in Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear claims to be the only shop that brings together many of the creative talents from within the North East. The artists it works with often have no other outlet to sell their products except online & it offers customers the chance to see the artwork up close.
Bookish, a tightly curated independent bookshop in Crickhowell, Powys, is a community hub running five book clubs, over 100 events annually, the Crickhowell Literary Festival and Childrens Book Festivals, a monthly cinema club and providing a home for weekly community groups.
Joco Interiors is gift shop in the heart of Nuneaton. It sells a broad range of home accessories and gifts for all occasions, including a large licensed product range including Harry Potter and Disney gifts, and a wellbeing station with aromatherapy ranges, incense and crystals.
Winyl, an independent record store in Manningtree, Essex specialising in new, special edition vinyl and some vintage vinyl that has been cleaned and graded. It also stocks a range of wine, beer and juice. The wine is mostly organic and vegan and is served by the glass or bottle to drink in or take away.
Stationery Supplies, a destination for stationery addicts in Marple, Cheshire, sells an eclectic mix of beautiful stationery, greetings cards and gifts, from colouring products suitable for 1 year olds through to a birthday card for a 100 year old! They pride themselves on giving friendly knowledgeable service and advice on all manner of stationery products.
Arragons Cycle Centre in Penrith, Cumbria offers cycle hire, a Shimano Service Centre offering emergency repairs, and specialist wheel build. It is a family run business, established for over 40 years but now with a brand new shop – one of the North’s largest.
Rides On Air in Wallingford has a new store with over 100 bikes and accessories in stock and covering all disciplines from children’s bikes to adults including disabled cycles and the latest craze of eBikes.
The Orry Mill is an independent contemporary yarn shop located in Eaglesham on the South side of Glasgow, which runs regular classes and workshops for crafters. It showcases a modern take on the old crafts of knitting and crocheting.