Despite the proliferation of globalisation and the ability to communicate with the rest of the world, there definitely seems to be a push to think local. For environmental, economic and enjoyment reasons, buying and eating local has become more and more important. I'm obviously a big advocate, and where possible like to practice what I preach. When it comes to eating out, I'm a pro - I rarely eat in chain restaurants and many of the local places where I do eat out champion local suppliers.
I'm not as good when it comes to my own groceries, often choosing convenience over conscience, and it's something I want to work on in the New Year. However, I am even worse when it comes to material goods. Most of my clothes come from ASOS and Amazon is the first place I look when searching for something - whether it be for myself or as a gift.
So I decided that when it comes to Christmas, it was time to put my money where my mouth is and explore my local shops searching for gifts for my loved ones. I knew that there was plenty of choice, it was just a matter of getting off my backside, closing my Internet browser and discovering the treasure trove that sits on my doorstep. Shopping local is one of the best things you can do for your area; those indie shops won't stay open if you don't shop in them - so shop in them I would!
It wasn't quite as easy as I expected, however. I could rave forever about how wonderful some of the shops were - but I found it very difficult to find presents for the people on my list; I kept getting distracted by things that I wanted to buy myself! The beauty of online shopping, as I'm sure you'll know, is that you can be precise in your search and browsing is much more difficult (have you ever tried to find a new book on Amazon when you haven't known quite what you are looking for?).
That being said, I managed to pick something up for almost everyone that I needed to buy for. Some will require a bit more thought before I plunge back into the shops - what do you buy people who say 'there's nothing we want or need'? It's a toughie. A better battle plan would have served me well and a list is paramount when it comes to Christmas shopping, but I'm sure you knew that already.
I can't ever hope to write a comprehensive guide to all the independent shops in Leeds, but I will share with you a couple of the places we popped into on our Christmas shopping spree:
Chirpy: Celebrating their first birthday, this little store in Chapel Allerton is a veritable feast of goodies for the design-conscious; their tagline is 'design to make you feel fine' but this shop makes me feel more than fine, I come out positively grinning with joy. There are lots of fun framed prints, cool cushions, lovely nick-nacks and even stylish babywear which will make perfect presents. Definitely one to check out if you've not already.
George & Joseph: A cheesemonger tucked down a back street in Chapel Allerton and something of a hidden gem. This was my first time visiting, and I think I want to live there. Watch out for a bit of a feature on this shop in the near future, I want to share more with you! Other than the obvious array of cheeses and a very knowledgeable cheesemonger to guide you around the selection, there were lots of cheese-related gifts (cheeseboards and the like) which would suit the foodie on your list.
The Corn Exchange: I couldn't possible name all of the shops that make up the Corn Exchange but suffice to say there's something to suit everyone. From bubbly bath stuff to vintage cameras, jewellery and scarves to prints and posters - you could lose hours browsing in here. Definitely one to check out on your next jaunt to Leeds.
Handpicked Hall: Another place you could lose hours and hours, Handpicked Hall is made up of lots of independent traders who come together under one roof for your shopping pleasure. I picked up a lovely little gift for my grandparents at the Handmade Collective, but there were plenty of other things I could have picked up and taken home with me (see, I can't be trusted shopping in real life!). This is also one of the most beautiful buildings in Leeds - worth a visit just to see the gorgeous roof on the top floor.
I obviously can't tell you exactly what I bought - plenty of people that I buy for read this here blog and I don't want to spoil any surprises, but suffice to say I felt pretty good at the end of the day when I returned home to wrap my presents, safe in the knowledge that I had spent my money wisely.
Are you shopping local for Christmas this year?