My top 10 independent local shops - Angela Horner, chair of Fashion City York
Who better to lead us on a tour of York’s best independent shops than Angela Horner, chair of Fashion City York and associate director at Browns department store.
2016’s York Fashion Weekend is 22 - 24 April, featuring a fashion village in Parliament Street and stalls, workshops and demos all over the city.
We caught up with Angela to find out where to shop and what to buy - with some purchasing tips thrown in for good measure. Here’s her top ten:
Browns department store, Davygate
I am biased as the founder of Browns, HR Brown, was my great grandfather and I am immensely proud that the store is still thriving! For me, it is that quirky mix of traditional family store coupled with great brands including Bobbi Brown, Tommy Hilfiger and FCUK.
We have character and I think customers like that. Shopping shouldn’t be too clinical, it should be an emotional experience; we really have a relationship with our customers and they know they can trust us.
Barnitts, Kings Square
Barnitts is woven into the fabric of York and it’s another family-owned store. If you can’t get it at Barnitts you can't get it anywhere! The place is like a tardis, selling homewares, workwear, furniture...you name it. It is also one of few places in York with a great lighting department. Barnitts has character - it’s one of a kind.
Burgins, Coney Street
Burgins is a must-see. It’s one of the longest-established independent perfumeries in the UK and has been around since 1880 (originally as a chemist). They have literally thousands of ladies and gents fragrances. Look out for their ‘something unique’ range which offers exclusives and limited editions.
Flax and Twine, Shambles
Flax and Twine occupies a lovely eighteenth century building in the Shambles - full of character. It takes its name from the families of flax, rope and twine makers who once lived there. This shop offers lovely antique and vintage pieces for your home and there is even a cafe serving cakes, homemade soup and sandwiches - using locally-sourced suppliers. Who wouldn’t want to visit a place that states its purpose: to ‘make your life lovely’?
Rafi’s Spicebox, Goodramgate
I love this shop! Rafi's is an Asian delicatessen with the famous ‘curry pack’ - bringing years of cooking experience to allow you to create an authentic curry in 25 minutes (although they recommend you make it the day before). Choose from korma, rogan josh, masala… and make it as spicy as you like. Rafi’s can also cater for gluten free diets, which has been a lifesaver for me. I buy six packs at a time and freeze them. As a busy working mum, it’s lovely to come home to a delicious curry, made in less than half an hour the night before. Great for feeding a crowd too.
Mullen and Mullen, High Petergate
This bespoke tailor was founded by brothers Damien and Dominic Mullen in 2004 The shop offers fine gifts and accessories, including handmade boxer shorts, Mondaine watches and Geo F Trumper grooming products. I think it’s fabulous to have this nationally-renowned independent shop in the centre of York.
York Cocoa House Chocolate Emporium, Blake Street
No list of top ten stores in York could fail to mention chocolate! Chocolate is part of York's heritage and York is famous for having the smell of it in the air, thanks to the chocolate factories. York Cocoa House was opened in 2011 by Sophie Jewett, a self confessed chocoholic. The emporium feels just like that - an emporium, offering home made chocolate, chocolate workshops and the chocolate cafe.
Maude and Tommy, Grape Lane
Maude and Tommy is a must for anyone concerned with buying ethical fashion - something which is becoming increasingly important. It offers unique ethical women's fashion and accessories and all the brands are fair trade, organic and sustainable so you can look gorgeous and feel good about it, too.
Give the Dog a Bone, Fossgate
This place is a firm favourite of mine. It has been open since 2003 and offers cards and gifts that are that little bit different. If you’re looking for something a bit quirky, Give the Dog a Bone is the place to go. It’s not for the fainthearted though - there is a parental guidance note on the door as some of the products are a bit... well… rude! This is a great place to shop for those who are impossible to buy for - or for topping up a stocking at Christmas.
Betty's, St Helen’s Square
Last but certainly not least, Betty's is a York icon and you must visit - even to just look at the lavish window displays. I worked in the shop when I was a student and would ‘accidently’ squash a vanilla slice so I could eat it! The shop sells a fabulous array of tea, coffees, pastries and cakes. My recommendation is a Fat Rascal which goes down a treat with a cup of Betty's tea. For something really special, try afternoon tea. WW2 airmen were regular customers and there is a mirror downstairs in the Oak Room signed by them all.
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