With days remaining to use our Spend Local cards and three weeks left for Christmas shopping, Amy Cochrane, Niamh Campbell, Eimear McGovern and Margaret Canning look at independent shops worth visiting this festive season
Shambles Workshop, Glenarm
Shambles Workshop is the home of a small independently run craft shop in Glenarm Castle Estate, owned by Jon and Louise McClean, who not only showcase their own bespoke upcycled products, but also sell the work of local crafters and makers.
The Designerie, Bushmills
The Designerie is a social enterprise set up at Christmas 2014. The initiative has grown and now sells the work of a range of artists and crafters, from ceramics, paintings, candles and scarves to hats, bags and furniture. All money spent in The Designerie goes back to supporting the not-for-profit social enterprise.
The Secret Bookshelf, Carrickfergus
The Secret Bookshelf was set up by Chris Disley in January 2020, six weeks before the first lockdown, and has proved a haven for bookworms. The independent bookshop stocks many new books alongside second-hand books and children’s books as well as notebooks, cards, prints and literary-themed gifts. It also offers double loyalty points until December 14.
NorthxSouth offers a wide range of home, cooking and small kitchen appliances as well as TVs, radios and laptops. The shop, which is a member of Euronics, was established by friends Andrew Kilpatrick and Iain Boyd in 2016, and sells some top kitchen brands such as Miele, Samsung and Le Creuset. If you buy something with your Spend Local card, NorthxSouth are offering an additional 10%. T&Cs apply.
Caldwells Jewellers, Ballymena
Established 1895, Caldwells specialises in diamond and wedding rings. Richard Caldwell is a fourth-generation goldsmith and makes all the rings and diamond set jewellery in a workshop, as well as offering repairs and alterations. The family-run jewellers also stocks a range of designer-led silver jewellery as well as well-known watch brands Seico and Frederique Contant, with in-store discounts and deals when using your Spend Local card.
Starlight & Stone, Portrush
Run by mother and daughter Mary Rose and Ellen Stewart, Starlight & Stone is a fashion boutique in Portrush specialising in sustainable brands such as Thought, Komodo and Green Jeans Vintage. The store is accepting Spend Local cards, offering 10% off every purchase used with the voucher.
Sam’s of Ballymena
The family-owned store will celebrate 50 years in business under the Morrison family next year. Sam’s are stockists of some well-known, high-end brands in menswear such as Barbour, Fred Perry, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Remus Uomo. They also sell formalwear and men’s suits.
Olivia’s Haven, Ballymoney
Olivia’s Haven sells a range of fragrances and has recently expanded beyond handmade soy wax candles and now also includes reed diffusers and wax melts. All products are handmade, vegan friendly and the candles have a long burn time. The pop-up shop in the Acorn Business Centre is open until Christmas Eve.
Taylor Yates, Bushmills
Mother and daughter Karen and Ellen Yates run their sustainable and luxury handbag brand from their Bushmills boutique. All handbags are designed by the two women here in Northern Ireland and sent to Somerset in England to be made by the best British leather. If you spend your full £100 Spend Local card, they will offer a special £25 gift.
Hillstown Farm Shop, Randalstown
Hillstown Farm Shop is a family-run business by fourth-generation farmer Nigel Logan and his brother Alistair Logan, the butcher in the shop. They are selling a range of hampers coming up to Christmas, including meat from their farm, locally-grown vegetables as well as produce from Lough Neagh Artisan.
Mimi by the Sea, Newcastle
Opened in August 2020 by Maeve-Ann Hanlon, Mimi by the Sea sells the best of local arts, crafts and homewares, with a focus on local makers. The shop sells a wide range of well-known brands from Annie Sloan chalk paint, Mist & Moss candles and Banshee Silver to the Belfast Bow Company and Brooke & Shoals home fragrances.
The Christmas Shop at Montalto Estate, Ballynahinch
Montalto’s Christmas Shop first opened in 2018. Visitors can stock up on beautiful wrapping paper, sparkling decorations and carefully curated gifts. There is no cost in to access the shop from the Estate.
John A Shannon, Kilkeel
Shannon’s of Kilkeel recently celebrated 75 years in business earlier this year and offer the very best homewares, interiors and Christmas decorations. Owners John, Lois and Ian Shannon also provide hampers, home fragrance and kitchenware alongside their selection of bedroom and bathroom furniture. When using your Spend Local card at Shannon’s, they will offer 15% off any spend up to £500 and 20% off any spend over £500.
Bridge Books, Dromore
Established in 1995 by Lesley Price in the heart of Dromore, Bridge Books provides a range of genres to suit all interests. From new releases, Irish interest, children’s books, bookish gifts and also a bargain book section as well as cards, gift wrap and jigsaws. If you choose to redeem your full Spend Local card here, you will receive a £110 book voucher to spend in-store.
Jacqueline Rooney Art and Home, Rostrevor
Co Down artist Jacqueline Rooney set up her own gallery earlier this year and sells a wide range of wares, art and luxury furnishings both inspired by her own artwork and other makers and crafters. If you use your full £100 voucher, it will be topped up with another £10.
Rosie's Emporium, Lisburn
Rosaleen Stewart established Rosie’s Emporium five years ago and has now expanded to Lisburn’s bustling square. There is a large selection of gifts available for all occasions, including home fragrances, baby clothing and local crafts. If you spend £50 in one purchase on the Spend Local card, you will receive a £10 gift voucher against your next purchase.
Dilly Dally Gift and Home, Downpatrick
Dilly Dally offers a wide selection of gifts and homeware perfect for any occasion. The shop was set up by Shelley Cochrane in June 2020 and offers cards, jewellery, candles, home fragrances and furniture. They are stockists of Tipperary crystal, Field Day candles, Pilgrim jewellery and East of India.
Loaf Pottery, Crawfordsburn
Loaf is a social enterprise which is run by the Now Group, who help adults with learning difficulties and autism to find jobs for the future. They sell handmade pottery from mugs, espresso cups, milk jugs to butter dishes and bowls. Using your Spend Local Card here would help support the work they do, with 100% of the funds going back to the initiative.
In Klöver, Hillsborough and Moira
Established in 2016, In Klöver’s mission is to create an inspiring place to shop for unique, handmade products. Based in Hillsborough and now Moira, the shop features a range of products from soap and skincare to jewellery, pottery and textiles.
Millbank Farm Shop, Saintfield
Millbank Farm is a sixth-generation family farm that grows over 40 varieties of vegetables, alongside chicken and sheep production. Their popular farm shop in Saintfield offers quality local fruit, vegetables, cheese and fine ingredients grown locally, which can be made up into hampers and fruit and vegetable boxes for gifts. Orders can be delivered to your home or collected from the farm shop or the farm itself in Killinchy.
DIVA Accessories, Dungannon
Clare Morgan opened the Diva hair salon on Dungannon’s Donaghmore Road 16 years ago. Since then, she has expanded into retail, selling footwear and accessories. There is also a boutique next door to the salon.
All Sports Recovery, Moy
Launched by three friends, the spa provides plenty of methods to help athletes enhance recovery, including a cryotherapy bath and infrared room. The sporting entrepreneurs have also launched their own range of GAA gloves, under the brand Give and Go Sports.
The Copper Kitchen - Killeeshil
Located within Quinn’s Corner, The Copper Kitchen is a new shop and cafe. You can stop by for luxury lunches and afternoon teas, while also picking up local products from across Northern Ireland, including skincare products, delicious delicacies, luxury hampers and items from Tyrone-based clothing range, MOVE.
T Sheehy and Sons - Cookstown
At first glance, this may seem like your regular newsagents, but deeper inside it’s an independent bookseller. There's a wide range of books, often written by native authors or focusing on local history.
ALF AND ROE & 505 Men's Vintage Apparel - Donaghmore
Owned by wife and husband, Erinrose and Mickey Hagan, ALF AND ROE sells carefully chosen, premium vintage womenswear, while 505 is the menswear side to the business. Both are also donating 10% off all transactions made using the Spend Local card to the Cuan Mhuire rehab facility outside Newry.
O’Neill’s Music Shop ,Gortin
Sean O’Neill runs this village bedrock after it was passed down to him from his parents John P and Mary. Sean is an accordion specialist and supplier of traditional folk instruments and books.
Beattie’s Toy Barn - Newtownstewart
Expanding since its launch in 2014, Beattie’s has become renowned for its store selling farming toys, agri clothing, wooden farms and accessories. The toy barn emerged from animal supplies and feed business M Beattie & Son and now welcomes customers from across Ireland and beyond.
Begley’s Sports, Dungannon
A mainstay in Dungannon, Begley's is a leading independent Gaelic sports store, whose family has been working with GAA clubs and supporters for over 60 years.
Boneyard Records - Omagh
Self-proclaimed specialists in vinyl, this is a beautifully vintage store for music and general retro lovers alike. It stocks new, used and rare records, with shelves updated continuously, and there are also regular instore gigs and events.
A E Kenwells, Dromore
While Kenwells acts as a general merchants and hardware shop for the majority of the year, the village favourite has a reputation for producing one of the best festive showrooms and Christmas stores in the area.
The Natural Beauty Pot - Enniskillen
Located at The Buttermarket, the creators of natural beauty and wellbeing products have plenty of gift boxes for your festive needs, ranging from soy candles and organic skincare items to relaxing bath salts and even mineral-based make-up.
Formerly F. Dowler, the popular general hardware and building supplies store reopened in November under Mervyn Gregg and Raymond Chartres, who have been excited to welcome back customers to a store once known as the “heartbeat” of Lisnaskea.
Clare’s Flower Room, Bellanaleck
Clare Dougal’s small floral business is based in the picturesque village of Bellanaleck. Currently creating lots of seasonal wreaths for Christmas, she has a selection of other beautiful bouquets and said flowers are her “absolute passion”.
Advanced Beauty, Enniskillen
Advanced Beauty provides bridal make-ups and dermatological services such as microneedling and skin peels, and also stocks premium cosmetic and skincare products for all skin types.
Gilmartins Craft Shop, Belleek
Since 1979, this family business has been promoting premium brands and artisan crafts from all over Ireland, which can be hand gift wrapped and delivered straight to your door.
Walker Clothing Co, Irvinestown
Walker Clothing Co is a men’s fashion retailer, specialising in the latest casual and suit fashion. The store is also a stockist of top brands such as Superdry and Scotch & Soda.
Camlake Canvas, Garrison
The village gallery specialises in arts and crafts, including an original festive pottery range, embellished with hand-painted robins.
Ashwood Garden Centre, Enniskillen
The family garden centre was established in 1925 just off the Sligo Road, one mile from the centre of Enniskillen. Now with a sister shop in Ballymoney that opened over 20 years ago, a trip to Ashwood Garden Centre is a must for greenery, horticulture and flower fans.
Crabtree Cottage, Enniskillen
Explore the cute nooks and crannies of Crabtree Cottage, which has plenty of gifts, clothing, interior accessories and Christmas decorations.
The Modellers Corner, Enniskillen
This modelling enthusiast’s dream is on Darling Street and opened in 1989. It stocks wide ranges of model railways and trains, radio controlled vehicles, diecast models and plastic kits.
A Broader Picture, Portstewart
Most people who have spent time around the north coast have been caught staring in the window of this independent homeware and lifestyle shop where you can find soft furnishings, furniture and - best of all this time of year - beautiful Christmas decorations.
Little Acorns, Derry
Little Acorns Bookstore is a constant in the city of Derry. Owner Jenni Doherty is a friendly face and is always on hand to offer advice or show off some of the local artistry also on offer.
Lace and Lillies Boutique, Limavady
Looking for something special in which to dress your little darlings this Christmas? Brands of designer and high-end clothing at Lace and Lillies are carefully selected and include names such as Deolinda and Frugi for the most stylish children in Limavady.
Derry Designer Makers, Shipquay Street
A collective of local designer makers and artists, Derry Designer Makers in the city's Craft Village is host to some the best established and emerging makers and creatives based in the area and across the north-west.
Inside øut, Limavady
Owner Lynne Leivars is guided by her love of Scandi homewares and clothing. Her wares are displayed regularly on social media and have proved a hit for those looking for something beautiful and practical for themselves or their home.
Warke's Deli, Portstewart
Fancy cheese, olives or artisan food products are on sale, and you can also buy a coffee in this north coast staple shop. But you will probably end up leaving with more after being greeted by staff with a smile.
Toytown, Lisnagelvin Shopping Centre
This toy shop was founded in Belfast in the 1980s but now its Derry outpost has a loyal following for a wide-range of quality toys, a great selection of brands and knowledgeable staff.
This family-run business has been trading for more than half a century but was recently given a facelift by Karen Groogan after she took over from her aunt Katie. It now stocks the most coveted skincare and other treats along with comfortable but modern clothes.
Daisy Mae Boutique, Coleraine
This Coleraine boutique is a prominent addition to the high street, stocking a wide range of vintage-inspired clothing, Irregular Choice shoes and some quirky gifts, offering something a bit more unique than other stores.
Dandy Lion, Portrush
Originally based solely in Belfast, this pop-up shop on Main Street in Portrush is a self-styled "shop of unexpected things" - and antiques and collectibles are what you'll find.
Ros Oir, Dungiven
This boutique offers hand-picked items from around the world for men and women, stocking brands such as Pretty Lavish, Traffic People, Noisy May and Jovanna London.
No Alibis, Botanic Avenue
Book lovers in Belfast are no stranger to No Alibis. But new visitors will also be impressed by their wide range of stock as well including very popular Belfast noir, mystery and other genres of fiction and history.
Maven, Maryville Avenue
Founded by sisters Catherine and Patricia, Maven is an independent homeware, lighting and furniture store stocking brands including HAY, GUBI, MENU, Muuto, fermLIVING, String, Skagerak and Anglepoise.
Deborah Toner, Newtownards Road pop-up
Described as "architectural embroidery" of home textiles and accessories, artist Deborah said she "enjoys the idea that something very structured and architectural can be made into something soft and tactile". Her pop-up shop is very popular for a reason.
Tigeroo Toys, Duncairn Gardens
Video game merchandise, movie action figures, Jeffy Puppet and collectibles - you name it, you'll find it at this independent store. Check out their Facebook for sneak peeks of their stock.
Born & Bred, Ann Street
Best described as a treasure-trove of unique gifts and accessories, certainly a big draw of the city-centre shop, as well as their extremely friendly staff, is their wide-range of candles worthy of a full afternoon of sniffing.
Learning Space, Fountain Centre
This is a toy shop where you won't have to feel guilty about buying too much for the children in your life as all the toys have an educational slant. Games and sensory products are available for children of all ages, interests and abilities.
Mike's Fancy Cheese, Little Donegall Street
Mike Thomson is the man behind the much-loved shop close to the Sunflower pub. Not only can you find his own Young Buck blue cheese but all you need to make the most delectable cheese board known to man or woman this Christmas.
Pride and Pinion, Skipper St
This boutique is located within the Merchant Hotel which gives it that air of exclusivity as the only dedicated luxury watch boutique on the island of Ireland.
Memento, Ormeau Road
Whether you're a plant-a-holic or looking for a leafy gift, this florist is a haven of green goodness, offering workshops, bouquets and potted beauties to take home.
The Arcadia Delicatessen, Lisburn Road
A third-generation family business, ﬁne food emporium Arcadia Delicatessen has been trading from its Lisburn Road site in Belfast since 1933 and is now serving a new generation of food-conscious young people as well as their established clientele.
Lines & Current, Portview Trade Centre
You'd be hard-pushed to find a young woman in Northern Ireland who isn't familiar with this mid-priced jewellery brand, designed by Rebekah Johanson working alongside her husband Jon.
Alexander's Giftware in Markethill is the jewel in the crown of the fair county. And Christmas is one of its busiest times of year with people travelling from all over to see its Christmas shop. The store says it’s enjoyed a notable increase in footfall thanks to the Spend Local card, and adds that it can’t wait to welcome lots more customers in the lead-up to Christmas. A prize draw will also be held on December 15 for those who spend the £100 in one visit.
Chapman’s Farm Fresh, Portadown
Chapmans Farm Fresh is a family-owned, award winning farm shop selling fresh produce and a range of savoury and bakery items produced on site. It also sells luxury food and fruit hampers. The well-loved business dates back to 1959. Chapman’s also sells its own gift vouchers.
Alana Interiors, Lurgan
Carol Little’s interiors shop is running a sale before and after Christmas, with promotions and discounts throughout – especially on big-ticket items. Carol says it has had a boost from the Shop Local Scheme and hopes people are aware of the December 14 deadline. She says there are discounts every week until Xmas and into the new year. This week, there have been double points in the ladies’ boutique including accessories. There has also been 20% off all big-ticket items in its interiors department
The Dressing Room, Scotch Street, Armagh
The ladieswear shop has been open for about six and a half years and sells desirable brands like Soaked In Luxury, Inwear, Part Two and Ichi. The business runs a loyalty scheme all year around. An end of season sale will run between Christmas and New Year.
McQuillans Menswear, Portadown
The quality menswear shop in Portadown has been getting plenty of people across the threshold since Spend Local cards started to hit doormats in the area. The family-run shop sells brands like Wrangler, Douglas and Remus Uomo. Ciara McQuillan says she is looking forward to getting even more shoppers in between now and Christmas
Millars Shoe Shop, Lurgan.
Sonya Millar says the store has been getting a great uplift from the Shop Local scheme. She hopes that will continue until Christmas, with people continuing to splash out on more expensive shoes than usual with the help of the Spend Local incentive. Its best-selling brand is Dr. Marten’s.
TG Hawthorne’s, Armagh
One of the city’s most beloved retailers, much of the merchandise in Hawthorne’s furniture shop champions the delights of the Armagh area. They even sell snow globes of scenes in the ecclesiastical capital.
Gaffneys shoe shop is a key retailer in the city, selling high-end brands like Reiker, Remonte, Lotus and Cipriata. It sells footwear for men and women, and gift vouchers from the store itself are also available.
JR McMahon’s in Portadown is a menswear giant in the Co Armagh area, and has branches in Lurgan and Armagh. The business says it has one of the biggest selection of suits in the orchard county. Brands include Hackett, Tommy Hilfiger, Barbour, Eden Park, Gant and Fred Perry.
The Bottom Drawer, Portadown
The Bottom Drawer is famous for its fabulous mix of fashion, jewellery, gifts and home accessories lovingly selected by sisters Frances and Rhonda Jardine. They first opened in 2007 and a recent extension to its space of around one-third has been well timed for the rush of shoppers resulting from the Spend Local scheme.