Over the past few years, "shop local" has become the slogan of the UK high street. But, as retailers across Britain continue to navigate supply chain pressures and the beast that is online shopping, the thought of rambling past boarded-up buildings is far from attractive. While most of us are quick to praise independents, it can be difficult to know where to find the community-first businesses that are truly making a positive impact.
So, we've been on an adventure through our towns and cities to find the people and places supporting British heritage trades. From a ceramics store in Kent to a Scandi-influenced studio in Devon, these are our favourite UK stockists of handcrafted goods.
Community-first craft stores: the design spaces to shop at
Crafting at Wanderlust Life, left, and two of the brands ditsy necklaces.
Jeweller Georgie Roberts and her all-female team opened this Scandi-influenced studio and retail space in sand-dusted Braunton back in 2018. Come to browse the artisan's signature embellishments - think ditsy moonstone bracelets and necklaces strung with petite semi-precious stones - alongside a curated edit of coastal living homeware including ceramics, pots and planters. Special occasion on the horizon? Wanderlust Life has an impressive range of gifts. Our favourite? The birthstone drop earrings.14 Caen St, Braunton EX33 1AA +44 1271 815 456 wanderlustlife.co.uk
In 2019, Wednesday Lyle and Alison Murphy opened the popular Ramsgate craft store Potters - a space dedicated to showcasing the beautiful ceramics coming out of Britain's pottery renaissance. The duo have since introduced plants, homeware and soft furnishings. Expect to find subscribers to Laura Jackson's Hoste newsletter hanging out here - the pottery is envy-inducing. If, like us, you're a new plant parent (or are struggling to keep your plants alive), be sure to steal some tips from the green-fingered in-house experts.72 High St, Ramsgate CT11 9RS +44 1843 591 800 pottersramsgate.com
Social enterprise Fabrication Crafts supports local makers around Yorkshire by offering work and retail spaces at a reduced cost. As well as browsing pieces, you can book onto workshops to level up your own crafting skills. Also check out nearby Colours May Vary, a niche magazine store in the iconic Corn Exchange building. The shop stocks local and international titles in a bid to fulfil its mission of bringing things to Leeds that can't be found elsewhere.79 Albion St, Leeds LS1 5AP +44 113 243 9410 fabric-ation.co.uk
Inside Ryder & Hope, left, and a staff member of James Smith & Sons repairing an umbrella | Photo credit: Jacob Elwood.
James Smith & Sons
There's never a good day to venture out without an umbrella in the UK. Should a shower strike and you find yourself sans brolly, hop over to London's New Oxford Street to find the city's oldest and best-loved umbrella emporium. Having first opened its doors back in 1857, the esteemed establishment is still owned by the fifth generation of the Smith family, and is the only place in the capital that still crafts its own umbrellas on site. Step inside to find walls lined with polished shafts - which can be cut to size - and intricately hand-carved handles - think hares, skulls and faces.53 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1BL +44 20 7836 4731 james-smith.co.uk
Skincare enthusiasts will no doubt already have a basket brimming with Haeckels' hero products. The luxurious goods, crafted using surplus seaweed, are sold all across the country, but the brand's flagship store is located in the heart of Margate. Come armed with a spacious tote bag and pick up oils, lotions and scrubs concocted from beach-harvested ingredients, all packed into elegant brown glass bottles displayed in illuminated wooden cabinets. Haeckles is hot on conversation: get involved in its Rubbish for Product scheme - an incredible initiative that enables customers to receive a free product in return for a bag of beach rubbish.18 Cliff Terr, Margate CT9 1RU +44 1227 203 675 haeckels.co.uk
Ryder & Hope
Lyme Regis, Dorset
The coolest kid on Lyme Regis' postcard-perfect high street, Ryder & Hope fills a Grade II-listed, double-fronted building with the kind of design-led edit of utilitarian homeware we wish we had in our own pads. Ostrich-feather dusters, stone-washed hammam towels and enamel pitchers share shelves with locally made lifestyle products including oak-recessed mirrors and alpaca socks made in-house by Ryder & Hope. After grabbing the goods, swing by the sea-facing Swim restaurant, where crab sandwiches and chocolate sourdough make for the ultimate cheat-day lunch.30 Broad St, Lyme Regis DT7 3QE +44 1297 443 304 ryderandhope.com
The exterior of Berties Of Bay, left, and hand-printed paper at Choosing Keeping. | Photo credit: Maria Bell / Steve Harrison.
Covent Garden, London
Those that relish the feeling of a fresh set of stationery should skip straight to Covent Garden's Choosing Keeping - look for the sleek, matt-black facade with gold-embossed detailing on the corner of Tower Street. Inside, bare-brick walls are lined by walnut-wood shelves stacked with notebooks, hand-printed paper, pens, pencils and so much more. Truth be told, we had no idea that so many pen types existed before we got lost here. Hone your writing skills by picking up a fountain pen or mechanical pencil.21 Tower St, London WC2H 9NS +44 20 7613 3842 choosingkeeping.com
The New Craftsmen
Seeking handmade homeware expertly fashioned by British makers? Head to this Mayfair haunt. Housed in a striking, light-filled studio, The New Craftsmen is a space that allows creatives to collaborate and thrive, with some 100 artists and artisans on its books. Through exhibitions and workshops, design lovers are invited to learn traditional craft skills, as well as to shop for items made by talented designers. If you're hankering for some fresh armchair escapism, visit the website, where enthralling stories from makers of all kinds are shared.34 N Row, London W1K 6DG +44 20 7148 3190 thenewcraftsmen.com
Berties Of Bay
Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire
Challenge: what does a fisherman wear? Ten points if you shouted "gansey" - an intricately knitted jumper specially designed to keep heat in and water out. Step forward, Berties Of Bay, the Yorkshire-based heritage boutique dedicated to reviving traditional nautical styles. Brought to us by Matthew Pugh, the unique range is 100 per cent British-produced. Swing by the shop in Robin Hood's Bay to pick up beautifully crafted ganseys, beanies and chunky throws.Robin Hood's Bay, Whitby YO22 4SA bertiesofbay.co.uk