As challenging as this lockdown period has been, there are many powerful and positive changes that we’ve made to our everyday lives that we’re committed to continuing as the world begins its return to some semblance of normality.
The crisis has awoken a strong sense of community among so many of us, especially when it comes to supporting independent and local businesses that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Sadly, so many of these small businesses have not been able to survive through lockdown and those who have are likely facing very unstable and difficult months ahead. At iMBARC we are committed to standing by them and continuing our support for these special businesses that give our cities and towns their unique character and energy. Here’s a round-up of some of the team’s favourite independent businesses that we’ll be buying from long after lockdown is over.
This is an ever-evolving list that we’ll be updating with small and local businesses that we discover in our cities and on our travels – so be sure to check back for updates.
N.B Many of these stores are still temporarily closed due to COVID-19 but most have online stores that you can purchase from to support them in the meantime.
BOOKS & MUSIC
There’s something so pure and visceral about listening to music on vinyl. Whether you’re new to the record scene or a seasoned enthusiast, Sister Ray Records is a music destination that is sure to satisfy all of your vinyl needs and curiosities. The world’s most visited record store, Sister Ray is nothing short of an institution in the music world. Here in the bustling heart of Soho, you can get lost in a world of new, vintage and hard-to-find vinyl records and if it all gets a bit overwhelming, the staff are incredibly knowledgable across all genres and happy to help with any recommendations or questions you may have.
Founded in 1966, New Beacon Books is the first Black book shop and publishing house in the UK and your go-to specialists for all fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s books from BAME writers, particularly Black British authors. Today, the publishing industry sadly lacks diversity so it is critical for us to support those few surviving independent bookshops and publishers, such as New Beacon Books, that specialise in championing marginalised voices and stories.
Describing itself as the ‘bookshop that you thought no longer existed’, Book-ish is a very welcome step back in time for all book lovers. When it comes to the dying breed that is brick-and-mortar bookshops, Book-ish captures everything that you love and remember so fondly about them; the towering shelves of books, the well-curated table displays, the warm and friendly staff ready to share their recommendations, and – who could forget – the adjoining cafe serving coffees, teas and delicious homemade treats.
When we saw that Italian Vogue described it as the ‘coolest place in London’, we knew that we were about to discover something truly special. Pelicans & Parrots is the kind of shop that is so well-curated that you immediately want to explore the homes (and wardrobes) of the owners who founded it. An apparel and lifestyle store specialising in quirky houseware, unique gifts and vintage clothing (think Moschino 90s dresses and colourful silk shirts), Pelicans & Parrots is your one-stop-shop for anything that will have your friends dying to know where you got it from.
Summing itself up in ten syllables, Drama Club is a boutique for ‘well-made clothing and things for you and life’. Founded by Jack Sachs, this Brooklyn-based modern general store stocks carefully-curated clothing, jewellery, footwear and lifestyle brands that focus on design integrity and quality. With white walls and wood and marble furniture, the sunlit store is beautifully arranged with the customer’s retail experience at front of mind – browsing here is a real joy.
Located in the heart of Little Portugal, Penny Arcade is a dream shopping experience for vintage enthusiasts who don’t have the time or patience to trawl through endless racks and buckets of goods. Every garment in the store is handpicked for its quality and design and then restored to its original integrity by their expert in-house seamstress. The pieces are then all professionally cleaned so you can be sure that they won’t hold that all-too-familiar ‘vintage smell’. Penny Arcade also prides itself on the creative store layout and displays which feature a curated selection of locally made goods.
When it comes to concept stores Amsterdam boasts a wide-ranging selection from the minimalist stores focused on essentials to the vibrant shops filled with quirky curiosities. One that really captured our hearts and stands out from the rest, however, is Six and Sons. Located in one of the coolest neighbourhoods of Amsterdam, the boutique was founded with a strong emphasis on encouraging mindful consumption. The two-storey design-led store stocks a range of unique and sustainable home goods sourced from local and international brands alike.
If you’re looking to purchase some ‘small stuff’ to delight your little ones, look no further. Small Stuff in Yorkshire is an award-winning children’s lifestyle store focused on eco-friendly and ethically-made children’s clothes, toys, nursery ware and books. Founded by Hellen, they are dedicated to making environmentally and socially responsible decisions, from the brands and products that they choose to stock to the packaging that they use for their deliveries. Taking their community responsibility even further, every quarter they also choose a charity close to their heart to which they donate a percentage of their profits.
This is one niche store that really gets it right. Founded by Gynelle Leon, Prick is London’s first boutique dedicated to cacti and succulents. The store offers a huge selection of unique and exotic plants which have been sourced from around the UK and Europe. As well as the plants themselves, Prick also sells its own terracotta pots and handmade ceramic pieces crafted by local artists. From tiny and cute to large and striking, Prick has a plant to fit whatever space in whatever style.
We love companies that find creative solutions to environmental problems and one of our favourite brands that do this so beautifully is The Recycled Candle Company. Creating luxury candles from recycled wax, the company founded by Richard Hills-Ingyon and Sargon Latchin gives a new (and beautifully scented) life to old candle wax by melting it down, filtering it, dying it and scenting it. Sourcing scrap wax from businesses, homes and hotels around the UK, their store can be found in Gandy Street, Exeter. And if you have old candles lying around the house, be sure to bring them in on your next visit and you’ll receive a discount on your purchases.