As we begin the transition to the new normal, many of us share a similar urge of wanting to shop locally and help our valued independents get back up on their feet. It goes without saying that independent businesses across the country have faced a devastating knock as a result of the pandemic, leaving owners fearful for the futures of the businesses that they have dedicated their lives to building. Despite this, it comes as no surprise to learn of the sheer number of independent businesses that have showcased their ingenuity, creativity and dedication to keeping the business going, whilst helping the public through unprecedented times. Here, we take a closer look at just a few of York’s independents that did just this.
Appreciating the little things has been a lesson many of us have learned over lockdown, particularly when it comes to the home. As we all have had to become increasingly more familiar without own homes over the past few months, creating a space where we feel safe and comforted is a task many people have considered to be essential. Whether it’s giving your home an overdue spring clean, or simply making it a little more practical or even more sustainable, a number of York’s trusty independent shops have helped people do just this.
Throughout lockdown, Connolly’s Homestyle and Rise and Shine Living continued to supply homewares and gifts through their online stores, selling home and garden furnishings to make our spaces that little bit brighter. Connolly’s Homestyle proved a go-to for those of us who used lockdown as a way of getting around to mending the curtains or finding useful storage solutions. And for those who saw the time at home to become a little more conscious of their household waste, Rise and Shine Living provided sustainable products to help us all cut down on all of the unnecessary waste.
And when it comes to sustainable gadgets, Heima is another of York’s independent shops which helps people to keep things practical; the self-proclaimed shop of “useful stuff” remained open for limited days throughout lockdown, as well as trading online. Heima provided customers with eco-friendly toilet paper in the early days, baking tins and utensils for people’s new-found baking passions, as well as a whole host of other practical and environmentally friendly products.
Similarly to the morale of independent businesses who strove to continue working throughout lockdown is the morale of the public who strove to help in any way they could. One of the ways we saw our communities helping from home was through making masks, bags, and scrubs for the NHS. Independent fabric and haberdashery shops helped to keep the sewers and stitchers stocked up on all of the fabrics and threads needed. In York, Duttons for Buttons and Gillie’s Fabrics continued to take orders throughout lockdown, supplying textile experts and novices alike with mask-making kits, an online button-matching service, and even sewing machines themselves to keep Britain stitching.
Fabrication Crafts and Bish Bash Pot are two more of York’s independents that have kept the people crafting during lockdown. Bish Bash Pot’s ‘Paint at Home’ delivery baskets allowed families to get creative at home, painting pottery of their choice which would then be picked up and returned fired. But they didn’t stop there, as a perfect time for many to catch up on the slime-trends, Bish Bash Pots also posted deliveries for families to create their very own slime. Fabrication Crafts also helped people find a hobby at home; on their online store they provided fused glass kits and other small craft projects for the whole family.
It comes as no surprise to learn that the book sales have surged during the lockdown, a comforting prospect for the independent bookshops across the country. Two of York’s most notorious book shops, Ken Spelman Books and Lucius Books continued serving the public with rare and contemporary reading material with their online shops; both with catalogues of thousands of books.
On a similar trajectory to the rise in books, is the rise in jigsaws and pets. One of York’s independent shops combines products for both of these lockdown-surges, simultaneously. The Cat Gallery, which continued trading online, sells a whole host of products for cats and cat owners alike. In the first few weeks into lockdown, many of the cat-themed jigsaws were sold out, fuelling the public’s sudden jigsaw-craze. The Cat Gallery also ensured that the newly-homed homed kittens and cats were just as comfortable and entertained with scratch-pads, treats, beds, and much, much more.
It’s safe to say none of us could have predicted which trends the lockdown would throw at us, but one thing is for sure, that this humble city had an independent shop at the ready to provide the goods.