Celebrating Independent Shops at Leeds Corn Exchange

Supporting local businesses is high on my list of values. When I’m travelling I’ll seek out family run restaurants, eat local produce and drink the local wine. So when I’m at home in Leeds, this shouldn’t and doesn’t change. I do as much of my food shopping as I can at Leeds Kirkgate Market, I choose independent local restaurants over chains and I enjoy plenty of Yorkshire produce from mayonnaise brands to beer.

The are a whole host of reasons why I do this including trying to reduce my carbon footprint and simply wanting to enjoy the specialities that a region offers.

The main reason however, is that I want to support independent businesses and local communities. I’m not from Yorkshire but its certainly welcomed me with open arms and provided me with endless opportunities, so why would I not want to invest back into it? Likewise, when I’m travelling I feel privileged to have the opportunity to experience somewhere new and I want to do my bit to support the community I’ve arrived in. 

I’m sure you can imagine that when I was invited to visit Leeds Corn Exchange to celebrate Independents’ Day I felt pretty honoured! It would be the perfect opportunity to discover some new local businesses, engage with the people behind them and hopefully inspire you to discover them for yourselves!

So What Is Independents’ Day?

Held on the 4th July, I don’t need to explain the play on words here. But Independents’ Day in this context is all about celebrating and supporting local, independent retailers, of which the Corn Exchange boasts 30! Myself and a few other bloggers were invited to celebrate with some food and drink before being given a tour of some of the retailers within the iconic building. Here’s what I discovered!

Humpit

As a hummus lover, this was by no means my first time at Humpit! As part of my invite to Independents’ Day, I was kindly gifted a meal at this fantastic independent, vegan eatery and started off my evening with a hummus and falafel bowl, accompanied by the softest of wholemeal pittas for mopping up every mouthwatering mouthful. It’s somewhere I often visit for lunch when I (rarely) forget to bring my own lunch to work because it’s satisfying, good value for money and it’s bloody good hummus!

Bowl of hummous with falafel on top, chickpeas and paprika at independent business in Leeds corn exchange

The Great Yorkshire Shop

It goes without saying that this shop is going to be a good one. I might not be Yorkshire born and bred but it’s certainly stolen my heart! The Great Yorkshire Shop sells a variety of goods from Yorkshire makers, artists and designers such as candles, soaps, shaving sets, t shirts and books about Yorkshire pudding (the best thing to come out of Yorkshire I think you’ll agree?!).

book about yorkshire pudding  at independent business in Leeds corn exchange

Chatting to the owner’s mother who was looking after the shop when we visited, they also focus a lot on rhubarb in the products they sell in order to make the most of being situated in the rhubarb triangle. This place is absolutely built on a love of everything Yorkshire and the pride certainly shines through.

Fabrikk

I don’t really wear hats other than to keep my little head warm in the winter, so this is a shop that I probably would have passed by had it not been for this event. Fabrikk sells a beautiful variety of Yorkshire made hats including a range of vegan cork hats, meaning that you can look good and save the planet at the same time! I walked away from here not only discovering another local business, but also discovering that I can pull off the hat look after all. Watch this space for Nell’s hat phase.

Display of hat, bag and purse made from vegan cork

Eye Kit

I’m so gutted that I didn’t know about this shop a day earlier! Eye Kit specialise in sports sunglasses, of which I had just bought from a large retailer just a few days earlier ahead of my trip to the Alps for some high altitude hiking and glacier climbing. I had a lengthy conversation with the shop owner about my upcoming trip and her experiences of high altitude hiking and she really knew her stuff. There’s a huge range of high quality glasses (including prescription) and the prices are very reasonable… I’d highly recommend going if you’re a hiker, skier or general outdoorser!

The Plant Point

This place is incredible! There are so many plants and all of them are uniquely stunning. As much as I’d have loved to buy one (or all) of them, I have a knack of killing every plant I purchase so it wouldn’t have been fair on these beautiful creatures. Even if you’re not looking to buy something, just wandering around this Corn Exchange based jungle feels so peaceful… perfect for a lunch break during a stressful day at work! P.s. they also sell gift cards so if you have a plant loving friend this would be the perfect gift.

glass hanging plant pot with small green plant inside  at independent business in Leeds corn exchange

Simcha Gallery

I couldn’t stop smiling whilst visiting Simcha Gallery, mainly due to the pure passion that shop owner Stephen had for making and selling jewellery. I clung on to every word as he explained that he splits his time between creating new pieces (which he designs by hand) and repurposing/up-cycling old jewellery to give sentimental items a new lease of life.

Simcha workshop action shot of owner pressing a piece of jewellery at independent business in Leeds corn exchange

He also introduced his mother/business partner and talked about his memories of his mother encouraging him to start making and creating things. Finally, he gave a demonstration and invited people to help him repurpose a piece of jewellery. If you’re looking for a piece of jewellery that is unique and crafted with complete and utter love and care then Simcha is definitely the place to find it.

So next time you’re at a loose end in Leeds, why not have a wander around the Corn Exchange and pick up some unique bits and bobs whilst supporting independent retailers? In the mean time, I’d love to hear your favourite local businesses so please share below!

Nell xx

P.S. if you’d like to read more about independent businesses and local produce in Leeds, have a read of my 5 Reasons to Love Leeds Kirkgate Market!

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