Safe to say 2020 has been one hell of a mess and there’s never been a more important time to support one another and do the best we can to get through these wilds together. So this Christmas, let’s try to resist the ease of Amazon and support our local businesses instead.
In Bristol, we’re lucky to have a huge bounty of independent shops, selling everything from toys to plants to records to hampers. Although most will be shut throughout lockdown #2, the majority have websites where you can order their wares online. And many are also doing click and collect. I’ve linked to all the websites in this post.
Shopkeepers need our support now more than ever, and we need them to keep our community special, so let’s send our Christmas pounds their way.
The Best Independent Shops in Bristol
Best independent gift shops in Bristol
One of my absolute favourite places for gift shopping in Bristol is Mon Pote on North Street, which has a beautifully curated selection of often Scandi-style homeware, jewellery, toys, stationery and gifts. It’s all online too.
Pod is a cheery little shop in Clifton Village, perfect for gift shopping and stocking everything from children’s toys to coffee table books and novelty homewares. Brands it stocks include LSA, Clockwork Soldier and Jellycat.
Bristol CoLab is a buzzing spot on Gloucester Road, stocking artists and designers from Bristol and the south west, including art, writing, fashion and jewellery. Run by Andrea who used to work in the festival industry, a lot of the stock is influenced by music. They deliver across the UK.
Walk along Stokes Croft and you can’t miss Neon Tiger with its rainbow cat mural painted above the doorway. Run by artist Martyna Zoltaszek, the shop stocks her and other artists’ work, as well as a curated selection of gifts. They also have one of Bristol’s best Airbnbs just above the shop.
Another Gloucester Road gem is Iota, selling all manner of gifts, from clothes to lights to cookbooks and stationery.
Fig1 in Wapping Wharf stocks stylish homewares and gifts from contemporary designers across Europe. Some of its stockists include Devon-based Nkuku, and Scandi favourites, Rice, House Doctor and Sondergaard.
Independent Design Collective
Another Southville favourite is the Independent Design Collective, which true to its name sells craft-based gifts by around 40 different designers and artists. It’s a lovely space to browse.
Prior is a dreamy little space in Old Market, run as a co-op retail shop and workshop space, specialising in design-led, handcrafted work that is made responsibly and sustainably. They have some particularly lovely plant pots, plus lot of unique jewellery.
The Bristol Artisan
Just off Whiteladies Road is this stylish space, The Bristol Artisan, selling ceramics, homeware, jewellery, clothing, cards and more from over 50 independent Bristol and UK-based designers and makers. As with many of Bristol’s shops, there’s an emphasis on homemade and sustainable practices.
BAM in Easton is a not-for-profit store selling all sorts from vinyl to beauty products to toys to books. They also hold workshops when there isn’t a pandemic.
Best independent art shops in Bristol
Room 212 is a self-described “Aladdin’s Cave of Bristol art and creativity”. There’s a big gallery space at the back, and each month they have a different theme or invite a guest artists to put on an exhibition. As well as plenty of prints on sale, there are also cards and gifts too.
Casper is a combined gallery space and shop, supporting independent and emerging artists from both Bristol and beyond. They also host events and exhibitions.
Formerly the Little Shop, Love It Bristol is a tiny shop in Stokes Croft selling works by Bristol artists and makers.
If you’re looking to frame some of the artwork you’ve bought in one of Bristol’s many art and gift shops, Niche Frames is an ideal option. I recently had my papercut print by Sarah Dennis framed here and was impressed by the knowledgeable and friendly staff.
Best independent bookshops in Bristol
Storysmith is a lovely independent bookshop on North Street in Bedminster – if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they can order it in for the next day, so no excuses to opt for Amazon instead!
Bloom and Curll
Bloom and Curll, an independent bookshop, bookbinders and arts space, sells both secondhand and new books. It’s one of those atmospheric bookshops where you could while away hours browsing for treasures.
Best independent toy shops in Bristol
My favourite toyshop in Bristol is Playfull, which stocks sustainable toys, mostly made from wood. Many of the items are imported from Sweden where Kerstin the owner is from. They also have a lovely craft section.
Totally Toys is the kind of toyshop I remember from my own childhood, and indeed it’s been there since 1988 when I was just four. It’s a friendly, family-run business and stocks all the kiddy favourites from Lego to Brio to craft kits.
Toyville in Bedminster is a well-curated family-run toyshop, stocking well-made toys and games for all ages. They stock brands including Djeco, Playmobil, Hape and Lego. It’s an absolute joy to browse and full of g
Best independent clothes shops in Bristol
Fox + Feather
My go-to shop for stylish clothes is Fox + Feather, which stocks gorgeous fashion brands from across Europe. They also have a beautiful selection of gifts and homewares, which used to be in a separate shop named Stil.
Head to Rhubarb Jumble on North Street for all things 1950s-1970s, including clothing, homeware and furniture.
That Thing is the place to go for festival outfits, streetwear and unique contemporary clothing. It stocks around 50 independent designers.
Bristol’s biggest vintage store, Loot, has handpicked goods from all over the world
The Ottowin Shop
The Ottowin Shop celebrates slow fashion and both designs its own and stocks other people’s sustainable, ethical goods. They have a shoe making factory onsite, creating footwear designed by owners Lucy and Ollie.
Don Majors specialises in streetwear from the 80s and 90s, heavily influenced by the Bristol music scene.
Something Elsie Vintage
Bristol’s newest vintage shop is Something Elsie in Wapping Wharf, specializing in clothes from the 80s and 90s.
Best independent music shops in Bristol
Idle Hands in St Paul’s represents Bristol’s dance music scene, supporting local artists, as well as selected labels from around the world. It’s run by Chris Farrell who formerly worked in Rooted, Replay and Imperial, previously some of Bristol’s most iconic record shops.
One of the oldest record shops in Bristol, Plastic Wax on Cheltenham Road is the place to go for the classics.
Specialist Subject Records
Specialist Subject Records is an independent record label and shop focusing on punk, indie and hardcore, all on vinyl, tape and CD. Merch and xines are also on sale.
Best independent craft shops in Bristol
In normal times, Kiln Workshop is a place to go to paint your own pottery from a selection of ready-made options, from milk jugs to unicorns. Now they also have the option of ordering the paints and pottery for collection from the shop, ready for you to paint at home. They then fire it for you back at the shop. A great way to create your own, personalised gift.
Creativity in Clifton is in its 42nd year of trading and is still going strong as an arts and craft supply shop for all your creative needs, from haberdashery to beads to wool.
Flo-Jo Fabrics is my favourite place for fabrics in Bristol, selling a well curated selection of quality dressmaking, craft and quilting fabrics. They also run lots of great sewing courses.
Best independent plant shops in Bristol
Fancy Plants has two locations, one on Gloucester Road and the other on Park Row. Both have a gorgeous array of plants, including many rare finds. They also offer consultations where they come to your home/workspace to advise about what plants will work best for you.
Doubling as a sweet little café, Emmeline in Stokes Croft also sells an array of houseplants, updating their stock regularly. Make sure to get a juice or cake while you’re in there!
Perhaps my favourite of all the plant shops is Wild Leaf, mainly because of how it feels like a little oasis in the city, filled from top to bottom with greenery. It’s a tiny space, which adds to its wonderland charm.
In one of Wapping Wharf’s shipping containers is Bush, a shop filled with botanicals and home accessories. It spills out onto the pavement in good weather, making it hard to pass by without a purchase!
Best independent food shops in Bristol
Get all your Spanish cravings at El Colmado on Gloucester Road, stocking everything from Cacaolat to turron and cured meats. They also serve tapas instore.
Chandos Deli has several stores in the South West including four in Bristol. It stocks high quality foods from all over the world, including oils, cheeses, antipasti and more.
Pearly King Cakes
Pearly King Cakes is one of Bristol’s expert cakemakers, providing bakes to cafes throughout Bristol, and she also has her own shop selling a handpicked selection of groceries as well as her excellent cakes.
Oh my, I only recently discovered Zara’s Chocolates and it is amazing. The hot chocolates are off the scale (I recommend the spiced orange), and they also make their own chocolates on site. I’ve already bought some for Christmas hampers.
For fancy deli items in Bristol, there’s no better place than Papadeli. It’s certainly a place for splurging and creating the ultimate luxury hamper.
The Bristol Cheesemonger
If you’re a cheese fiend, look no further than The Bristol Cheesemonger where you can find the best local, seasonal British cheeses. They have a shop at Wapping Wharf or you can order online.
Flip is Bristol’s first vegan deli and café. It also has a good grocery section selling foods from local Bristol producers.
Scrumptiously Sweet is a proper old fashioned sweet shop with everything from jelly bears to jars of bonbons. I’m always particularly impressed by just how many of the sweets are vegetarian. They also have an excellent cake-making section in the back room.
Otomi is where I go to buy proper corn tortillas. The little shop in Clifton Village sells authentic Mexican goods, including food stuffs and crafts.
Better Food is Bristol’s answer to Whole Foods, stocking organic, local and ethical foods. There are currently three stores – in Wapping Wharf, St Werburghs and on Whiteladies Road.
Divino Deli is an Italian delicatessen just off Whiteladies Road, stocking everything from cured meats to cheese, pasta, wine and liqueurs. They also do fresh food on the counter, such as pasta and arancini, plus Italian coffee, of course.
Best independent alcohol shops in Bristol
Grape and Grind
Absolutely love this wine shop, Grape and Grind, on Gloucester Road. It can always be trusted to stock interesting and independent wines and beers, as well as coffee, hence the ‘grind’.
Corks is where I go when I’m hankering after an old fashioned and want to find a good bottle of bourbon. It’s a one-stop shop for high quality spirits, wines and beers. There are three locations – in Cotham, Wapping Wharf and North Street.
Brewers Droop not only sells a dizzying array of beers, but also has kits for you to create you own cider, beer or wine at home. The staff are experts and the filled-to-the-brim shop is a fun place to browse.
Get your craft beer fix at Beer Necessities in Wapping Wharf where you can choose from a handpicked selection of the ecpert teams favourites.
Independent restaurants in Bristol
Another way to support local businesses in Bristol is to buy vouchers for one of the city’s many excellent restaurants. I’ve written a guide to Bristol’s best restaurants and its best delivery treats. Many of those places offer vouchers, and even those that don’t might be able to arrange something. I’ll take Millinut vouchers if you’re offering 😉
There’s also an interesting new venture by Wriggle called The Curfew Club where you can order meal kits from restaurants and make their dishes in your own home – they have everything from pizzas to mezze to cocktails. All perfect for times of pandemic.
Support local shops in Bristol
Let me know if I’ve missed any gems and I’ll add them to the post. Thanks!