The Manchester Christmas Markets are iconic – and there’s no denying that they’re as beneficial for Manchester’s tourism economy as they are for all of us city centre workers who sometimes get an early finish on a Friday to peruse them.
But the sad truth about the Christmas Markets is that they do have the tendency to detract attention from local businesses around Christmastime. It just seems like a shame, given that we have so many amazing truly unique new and small businesses in our city, who would not only benefit hugely from our custom at this time of year, but who would also put their hearts and souls into crafting the perfect Christmas gifts for us to spoil our friends and families with.
So, here we’ve listed a few smaller businesses where you might like to shop local for some Christmas gifts in between scoffing a Yorkshire pudding wrap and taking a picture of Zippy Santa from the top of the windmill bar.
This nifty, crafty little shop is situated in Afflecks Palace and online, and does way more than it says on the tin. It’s a family business specialising in beads and jewellery making supplies, but their stock ranges from quirky and innovative beads in the shape of MnMs, little spirals, mirrors, quartz and Swarovski Crystal, to chains of every description, to ribbon and ‘make your own pendant’ kits. Being in there feels like an adult version of Charlie’s trip to the chocolate factory, and it’s the perfect place to craft a gift that will make the recipient feel warm and fuzzy inside.
If fact, pretty much anything you buy in Afflecks is guaranteed to make somebody do a little jig with joy – usually the recipient and the seller!
Ryan and Chris are Manchester’s resident coffee experts. Having honed his skills when travelling in Australia and New Zealand, Ryan brought his passion for the perfect blend back home to Manchester. He and Chris have clubbed together to bring a new take on coffee to our city – creating new and quirky blends with both traditional and innovative infusions, such as beetroot and chocolate orange, they’ve unknowingly created the perfect Secret Santa gift.
Their pouches range from £6-£17, and they’re perfect for that person in the office that you don’t know well enough to be cheeky with, but that’s always at the coffee machine. You can shop their goodies here.
There’s something so sentimental about Paramount Books. They do comics, wishy washy second hand books and vinyl. Maybe not one for the posh aunt, but you’ll definitely find something for the moody teenager in your family.
This place is the go to for that awkward man in your life – the uncle you don’t know very well or your picky brother who has everything he wants already. Oi Polloi was voted Manchester’s finest independent boutique by GQ Magazine and The Guardian, so you’ll be able to source the perfect nondescript man gift that’s a high enough quality and unique enough to look thoughtful.
Even if you have no gift inspiration to go off, this is the place to get yourself sorted. You’re guaranteed to see something in there that reminds you of a person you love, and it will probably be something that nobody else owns. Not to mention, with all of the quirkiest gift possibilities on offer here, it’s a safe haven for those of us who leave Secret Santa to the last possible minute.
We heard recently that most people like to think of themselves as creative. Even if they aren’t, they’ll love the gesture that you think they are. Fred Aldous is your tried and tested go-to for the highest quality art, craft and design supplies.
Altrincham Markets are the perfect place for that day of Christmas shopping with your mum. Make sure that you check which week it is ahead of time and head down to pick up some absolute gems – with a mandatory stop at Honest Crust for the pizza of your dreams, of course.
Good luck walking into this Didsbury based dreamland and walking out without something for yourself. The interior of the shop itself makes you feel instantly calm – a welcome rarity whilst Christmas shopping. The owner is a stylist and interior designer, and they’ve done a superb job of setting everything out so as to look irresistible. This Christmas, steer clear of your Jo Malone clichés and buy your auntie a delicate scented candle, because its hues made you feel calm inside and you wanted to pass on the serenity. You’ll obviously be walking out with a rope hanging basket, chunky woven wall hanging and an array of earthy toned cushions for yourself, too.
These guys have a stall at the markets, but we’ll forgive them for it because their stuff is crafted in Warrington. Also, because their rhubarb gin is the best we’ve tasted. Their salted caramel gin is delightfully sweet and would go down an absolute treat in a good coffee or hot chocolate. Their ultimate game changer, though, is their set of festive Christmas crackers. They’re absolutely beautiful, and they come with all of the expected cracker delights plus one of 6 gin liqueurs. The perfect gift for your Christmas host, to set his/her table off beautifully.
The beautiful thing about choosing to shop local is that it benefits everyone – it’s so much easier to find something lovely, handcrafted, fairly priced and unique when you shop local. Not to mention that when you purchase something from a small business, you’re helping to make someone’s dreams come true; and if that isn’t Christmassy, we don’t know what is.