Every year, I tell myself that, this Christmas, I’m going to make the effort to shop small, and buy as many of my gifts as possible from independent retailers.
Every year, I end up picking a department store or shopping centre, and doing most of my shopping there on the 23rd or Christmas Eve.
Now, I’m not knocking department stores or shopping centres! Not least because I have a collaborative post with my perennial Christmas Eve favourite appearing here next week and I’m not that much of a hypocrite, but also they’re great when it comes to convenience, choice and cost. Not being much of a planner or budgeter, I usually end up hanging on for my few-days-before-Christmas pay to get most of my shopping done, by which time online shopping is a risk and work means shopping around is out of the question.
I am keen to do things differently this year, though. Part-time work and paying off my credit cards
and the fact that I’m in New York the week before Christmas mean my budget is tighter than it has been this year, and if I’m not spending as much I want to make sure that my gifts are well-chosen, one-of-a-kind and made with love. And while Glasgow’s position as a UK shopping capital tends to rest on its designer stores and shopping centres, we’re also very lucky in this city in that we have a thriving community of designer-makers and independent retailers ready and willing to cater for your entire shopping list this festive season.
Get ready for my ultimate guide to some of the best indie shopping in Glasgow.
Hidden behind Argyle Street at Finnieston, The Hidden Lane is home to over 100 studios, galleries, antique shops, salons, a record shop – and even a tearoom! With designer-makers such as acrylic jeweller Bonnie Bling, illustrator Libby Walker and her gorgeous Glasgow-themed homeware, Uptown Squirrel‘s bright, eye-catching prints, candlemaker Cloud Nine and jewellers Shona Jewellery and Fiona Hutchison Barr actually making their one-of-a-kind products in their on-site studios, as well as selling them; lovingly-curated quirky gifts from Decadent Riot and Tart Glasgow and Emily Rose Vintage for one-of-a-kind antiques and collectables, you’re sure to find something for everybody on your list.
Over in my end of town, the Braw Wee Emporium is a not-for-profit independent gift shop operating out of Glasgow’s famous Barras Market. Run by East End native and creative powerhouse Jennifer McGlone, Braw Wee stocks over 1,000 products from over 70 Scottish designers, makers and musicians – many of whom are east end based themselves – with the profits reinvested in activities that contribute to the regeneration of the Barras and the many creative projects operated by McGlone’s Glow Arts community arts consultancy.
If you’re shopping in the city centre, Maia Gifts is Glasgow’s award-winning independent gift shop, with a fantastic variety of cute, quirky and clever gifts for any budget, sourced from Scotland and beyond. Liquorice Tree in the west end is fast becoming another favourite: you’ll find beautiful gifts, gorgeous homeware and luxurious accessories, lovingly curated with an expert eye.
Christmas gets underway in earnest at the Hidden Lane this Saturday, 25th November. It’s Hidden Christmas, and the Lane’s shops and businesses will be getting in the spirit with offers, samples, demonstrations, live music, prizes and tasty eats from the Hidden Lane Tearoom – including a delightfully festive afternoon tea – and healthy eating newcomer Lean Factory.
Visitors to the Hidden Lane this Saturday will get the chance to make their own keyring with Vanilla Ink Jewellery School, use Libby Walker transfers to make one-of-a-kind Christmas baubles and enjoy pop-up treats and treatments from Temper Chocolates, Napper Studio Hairstyling and Bellini Nails. If you can’t make it along on Saturday though, don’t fret: the Hidden Lane social media advent calendar will have different offers every day in the run-up to Christmas from participating shops and studios.
Etsy Made Local returns to The Briggait over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd December, with 70 different designer-makers exhibiting and selling their wares each day. You’ll find mostly different traders on the Saturday and Sunday, so try to get down both days if you can to enjoy the best in local homewares, jewellery, illustration, art, accessories, soaps and much, much more. Although Etsy Made Local is part of a national event, the Glasgow fair is being brought to you for the third year in a row by Glasgow’s Etsy Team. These guys really know their stuff and pick traders for each day whose wares complement, rather than compete with, each other – making Etsy Made Local a festive tradition I’m eager to get behind.
Extended festive opening hours are already underway at Braw Wee, but it’s as we get closer to Christmas that the magic really happens. On Friday 1st December, the shop will be open until 9pm with special offers and winter warmers to celebrate the transformation of the surrounding BAaD Backyards into a festive alpine village! There will be late night shopping until 9pm in the three Thursdays leading up until Christmas, and Jennifer has also scheduled one of her famous lamp shade making workshops for Wednesday 13th December – with a festive theme!
The Braw Wee will also be open until midnight on Christmas Eve, in keeping with the age-old Barras tradition – one that I’ve been completely unaware of, despite having lived in the neighbourhood for half a decade. I actually can’t think of anything more festive than wrapping up warm for a spot of last minute shopping, a wee mulled wine and a late-night stumble down the road home – see you there?
Why shop small this Christmas? Why not?
Even setting aside the variety and choice available from Glasgow’s independent retailer and designer-makers, when you choose to shop with a small business you’re buying into somebody’s dream. Whether it’s encouraging the growth of diverse, one-of-a-kind neighbourhoods like the Hidden Lane, or helping Braw Wee to breathe new life into and funnel funding into a historically underserved part of Glasgow, heading along to any of the destinations or events above makes a real difference, and helps to keep this city the greatest place in the world to live, work and shop.
I cannot wait to get stuck into my Christmas shopping this weekend at Hidden Christmas, and then next at Etsy Made Local. I hope you’re starting to feel the same!