It’s that time of year again, when the mission begins to find items that will fill your nearest and dearest with seasonal joy. Christmas shopping doesn’t need to be an arduous task, nor does it need to be one that lines the pockets of gargantuan retailers. To help you on your quest we’ve compiled an alternative, not-on-the-high-street guide of excellent places to check out. Scroll down to see where we find our best present inspiration.
We recommend starting with options, so why not hang fire on individual shops for the time being, and head to the concentrated centres of independent retail joy. Afflecks is obviously high on this list, as a staple part of the Manchester retail scene and with sellers that carry everything from from vegan soap, CBD and jewellery to tattoos, vintage clothes and posters. There’s something for every interest.
For those wanting to remain away from the city centre, why not check out Levenshulme Market. This much loved Saturday (and sometimes Friday Night) gathering of artists and producers is packed with gift ideas. Or for something truly unique and special, head to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre and let yourself be captivated by the work of their in-house artists, Jewellers, potters and silversmiths.
For the music enthusiast in your life we heartily recommend spending some time among the Vinyl shops of Manchester. Whether that’s with the new releases at Piccadilly Records, the hidden gems within Vinyl Exchange or accompanied by a slow paced coffee at Wilderness in Withington, Manchester’s music scene serves up plenty of Christmas bops.
The literarily inclined might appreciate you making a trip to the Northern Quarter gem, Anywhere Out of This World. As you climb the unassuming stairs you realise that this bookshop is worth a visit just for the experience. Round the corner you’ll also find LGBTQIA+ specialist bookshop Queer Lit, or if you don’t fancy the trip into town, Chorlton Bookshop is well worth a visit and just a 5 minute walk from Chorlton tram stop.
For the best trinkets, gifts, stocking fillers and oddities Oklahoma is a must visit. The shop is an explosion of colour and has an infectiously distinctive personality. For something more subtle and elegant in design, be sure to check out Form and Moth, these beautifully minimal lifestyle shops pride themselves on their well considered curation.
Finally, food and drink will always be appreciated and you can’t go far wrong with the specialist beverages of Beermoth, the tantalising teas of Bird and Blend and the artisanal cheeses of the Cheese Hamlet.
Here are our picks
Oklahoma, 74-76 High Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1ES - Visit now
As Manchester’s biggest independent gift shop, selling everything from fish-shaped plastic pens and vintage dominoes to two-metre folding wood rulers and hand-crafted jewellery, Oklahoma is the place to find those more eclectic stocking-fillers. All their stock is currently available online for those who want to get organised.
Manchester Craft & Design Centre, 17 Oak St, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 5JD - Visit now
Formerly a fish market, the craft and design centre is home to local ceramicists, jewellers and visuals artists. You can be sure to find beautiful, precious and useful objects that will make the perfect gift.
Levenshulme Market, Stockport Road (junction with Albert Rd), Levenshulme, Manchester, M19 3AB
Levenshulme Market is a cornucopia of local makers, artists, food producers and entrepreneurs. You can find everything from jewellery and visual art, to speciality foods and one-off coffee blends.
You can’t go wrong with a book, and Manchester has a hell of a lot of bookshops to choose from. Hence we’ve created a whole guide for (mostly) independent bookshops in Manchester – featuring some newcomers you may not have heard of yet.
Wilderness Records: shop and cafe, 9 Egerton Crescent, Withington, Manchester, M20 4PN - Visit now
For the musically inclined people in your life, check out Wilderness Records. Their cross genre collection of heavy hitting vinyl, is sure to help you find the record your loved one needs in their collection. It’s also a great place to take a coffee break if you’ve got a full day of present hunting ahead.
Vinyl Exchange, 18 Oldham Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1JN - Visit now
Any music geeks on your gift list? Satisfy even the most obscure taste for vintage vinyl and rare CDs in one fell swoop at Manchester’s legendary Vinyl Exchange. With collectors items sat side by side with second hand steals.
Chorlton Bookshop, 506 Wilbraham Road, Manchester, M21 9AW - Visit now
A cosy, independent bookshop in Chorlton with a wide range of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. Anything they don’t have in, they’ll try and order for the next day – very helpful for last minute Christmas panic! Also stocks a great selection of cards and wrapping.
Fred Aldous, 37 Lever Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1LW - Visit now
Nearly 130 years old and still going strong thanks to its unbeatable reputation for high-quality art, craft and design supplies; a visit to Fred Aldous is guaranteed to make creative friends and family members happy.
Chapter 1 Books, 19 Lever Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1BY - Visit now
Chapter 1 Books is an independent bookshop and coffee shop on Lever Street. The coffee is good, the cakes are excellent, and the books are beautifully displayed – a great spot for a relaxed Christmas shopping experience.
Cheese Hamlet, 706 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Greater Manchester, M20 2DW - Visit now
Christmas is a time for decadence and the Cheese Hamlet does this better than most. Their selection of artisanal cheeses and endless shelves of speciality condiments will brighten up any foodies Christmas day.
Beermoth, 70 Tib Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LG - Visit now
Manchester is blessed with so many excellent independent breweries. You’ll find the best bottles from the local scene as well as excellent international imports at Beermoth, making it an excellent place to find presents for the drinkers in your life.
Eat The City - Scranchester Tours, Until 31 December 2023, from £50 - Book now
Satisfy your hunger for knowledge as well as lunch with Scranchester’s food tours of the city centre. You may discover a new favourite hidden gem or learn a bit more about the cultural or historical significance of the food you eat all the time.