I rant about independent businesses A LOT. I’ve even been on the telly talking about the dire state Bath’s high street may find itself in if things don’t change. I champion independent businesses because I truly believe they are the back bone and lifeblood of the city. Yes, we have magnificent tourist sites and those thermal waters which are pretty special; but once you’ve seen that and you want to really get to know a city – you head to the little shops.
More often than not, when you walk into a small business you meet the person who owns it. They’re there every single day, relentlessly passionate about what they’re doing and how much they love Bath. Always striving to offer something different, of high quality and that they think you’ll love.
I’ve met a lot of them and they’re wicked people. Innovative, driven and dedicated; eternally with a smile despite the hard times that fall on every high street, regardless of whether its a World Heritage City or not. Never has there been a more important time to love your locals.
With this in mind, i’ve picked a few of the places I think you need to visit – not just in July but any time you want to experience something different and to find something really special.
Article is a beautiful little shop owned by Lucy. Her husband David owns the gallery next door and the two shops are joined so once you’ve browsed the treasures hand picked by Lucy, you can explore the captivating works of art David has chosen to exhibit.
From soaps to candles, artisan homewares and greeting cards; Article is a small but perfectly formed emporium of lovely things. If you’re looking for a gift, or want to treat yourself – go here first. You’ll always find something.
After you’ve visited Article, head across the street to The Loft for homewares and one of Bath’s best loved cafes – Cafe Lucca; I suggest you try all of the cakes. Head further down Bartlett Street to Sisi & May and Bibico for unique and hand picked designer fashion.
3 Bartlett Street
There’s some awesome independent shops that line the picturesque, totally pedestrianised street that is Margaret’s Buildings. Alexandra May stands at the corner, recently renovated and now showcasing a stunning collection of jewellery from designers all over the world – that you won’t find anywhere else in Bath. A short walk up the street is Uber who exclusively import clothing for men & women with an air of ‘alpine chic’ – you’ll be sure to find something unique here! Hang around on Margaret’s Buildings until you’ve discovered the antique map shop, galleries and book shops.
Green Bird cafe nestles comfortably about halfway along the street, offering respite from the bustle of the city centre. Catch it on a nice day and you’ve got yourself one of Bath’s loveliest sun traps. On a gloomy day, get cosy inside and watch the rain fall. Green Bird produce freshly made food that is sourced from specially selected farmers, growers and bakers. I can recommend all of the cakes with a Honey’s Midford cider on the side.
11 Margaret’s Buildings
The quirky, mismatched street that is officially known as Bath’s ‘Artisan Quarter’ is home to an exciting bunch of independent businesses. Homewares at Shannon, handwoven textiles from Katherine Fraser (who has a loom in her shop!) hairdressers, cafes, picture framers, glass blowing, burgers, bikes and carpets. You could easily spend half a day perusing the wares of Walcot Street and then finish it with lunch at Sam’s Kitchen and cakes at Made by Ben.
One of the longest standing gems on Walcot Steet is the Yellow Shop. Stocking the coolest vintage and retro clothing, shoes and accessories it is well worth a visit. The windows are packed full of stuff and the inside of the shop stacked floor to ceiling with interesting and super cool finds. You know how Urban Outfitters now have a ‘retro section’ (aka an excuse to sell plaid shirts at ridiculous prices)? Well the Yellow Shop has everything they have and more AND it won’t break your bank.
74 Walcot Street
Easily Bath’s most kick ass street and home to a tattoo studio, cool book, magazine and stationary shop, clothes boutiques and one of the city’s friendliest pubs, the Pig & Fiddle.
One of the largest jewels in Broad Street’s crown is Rossiters – an independent and family owned department store. A real Aladdin’s cave of furniture and homewares, Rossiters has bucket loads of character and intrigue around every corner. Go here if you’re looking for special gifts or just want to while away some time looking at wonderful things.
38-41 Broad Street
The San Francisco Fudge Factory does exactly what it says on the tin. Inside that tin is some of the best, most buttery and totally addictive fudge you will ever eat. A short skip across the courtyard of the Abbey is Maureen’s shop; stocked to the rafters with every flavour of fudge you could think of. As well as that, caramel apples, brittle, chocolates, lollies, jelly beans and more…a treasure trove of delights Willy Wonka would be proud of. Maureen and her team have been running the Fudge Factory for 21 years; she is an avid champion of independent businesses and undoubtably the sweetest cornerstone of Bath’s indie high street.
Explore the Abbey Green area further and visit Charlotte Brunswick for handmade beautiful chocolates, the infamous Sally Lunn’s for the bun that made Bath famous (!) and stop for dinner at Acorn; the city’s best vegetarian restaurant.
6 Church Street
I always talk about these guys, mainly because they’re good friends but also because they are the best at what they do. Independent Spirit of Bath is the city’s bottle shop. Here, you’ll find the biggest selection of craft beers from the UK & beyond and spirits that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Run by double act Chris and Christian, what they don’t know about booze isn’t worth knowing. If they aren’t stocking what you’re looking for, they’ll do their best to find it for you and it’s normally in their hands within a few days – you don’t get that service in Waitrose guys.
Once you’ve been to Indie Spirit, check out the quirky shops on Orange Grove too for antique treasures, clothing, souvenirs and The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party; because you’re gonna need some cake after that.
7 Terrace Walk
Southgate is a great addition to Bath – there you’ll find shops like Topshop, Debenhams and River Island, it houses all of the mainstream stores in a nice little bundle. Yes it’s a little soulless, you won’t find windy cobbled streets or quirky Georgian shop fronts. What you will find though is one of the last remaining Southgate independents; My Small World. Arguably one of the best toy shops in the city, it’s run by Dawn and her team & has been making the lives of children (and me) more magical since 2005. None of those fake plastic kitchens stocked with dodgy pretend McDonald’s food here. You might though, find a beautiful wooden kitchen, a cherry red wooden ride-on car, a cowboy and indian themed teepee, books, puzzles, games…you can see where i’m going. It’s a real toy shop.
19-21 St Laurence Street
Our neck of the woods is a welcome break from the hustle of the main high street. Without a doubt Bath’s most special Square (not biased) – Kingsmead is home to a tonne of independent businesses that surround a 200 year old London Plane tree. If coffee, cake or lunch is what you’re after – come here first. Get your caffeine fix at The Bath Coffee Co or Society Cafe and then fill up on a freshly made lunch at the Kingsmead Kitchen, Boston Tea Party or Yum Yum Thai. After dark, head to The Trinity pub, Flan O’Briens or The Dark Horse bar – recently named as one of the top 4 best new bars in the WORLD.
Often overlooked for its retail offering, Kingsmead Square is actually home to some longstanding and family run businesses including us (obviously) and Silcox Son & Wicks. These guys are found on the ‘corner’ of Kingsmead Square, along New Street and specialise in top quality furniture and homeware. Covering 14 rooms over 7 levels, this place can only be described as an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’. They source furniture locally as well as from all over the world; which makes for some really interesting browsing!
One of the things Silcox Son & Wicks are most famous for are their incredible sales. The Boxing Day event is the most special – with people queuing for hours before the shop is even open to bag bargains. Mind you, when they’re selling double beds for £99 – who wouldn’t?
5-7 New Street
Found is run by Nik and Olivia. Two of the loveliest and coolest people you will ever meet, they source items for their boutique that you won’t find anywhere else in Bath. Regularly named in the ‘top 50 best boutiques outside of London’ in The Telegraph, when you step into Found; you realise why.
Clothing and shoes for men and women, jewellery, designer bags, stationary and homeware – they have a perfectly curated selection of quality, luxury and truly unique pieces.
Once you’ve Found what you were looking for (geddit…) explore the other independents on the street and visit John Moore Sports for your Bath Rugby shirt and Grasse for unique home and garden wares; it’s run by Jo who is both lovely and gorgeous.
17 Argyle Street
This multi-level indoor/outdoor complex of shops and restaurants is mostly home to chain eateries but on the top level and on the Broad Street side of Milsom Place you’ll find Hunter & Sons.
These guys are the only place to go if you want the craft beer experience. Serving 6 specially selected beers every day on their taps; the staff are ready and waiting to ask what you like so they can point you towards a beer that will knock your socks off. To add to the delight, they have a small but perfectly formed food menu using locally sourced ingredients. On top of all that, they serve some of the best coffee in Bath so go there for breakfast, stay til lunch.
14-15 Milsom Place
Cor, that was long wasn’t it? The moral of the story being that Bath has some of the best independent shops in the country. No, world. We’re a little bit spread out but well worth the wander! Visit them all and their neighbours; say hello, buy things and love your locals. I guarantee Bath will become an even better place once you get to know the wonderful people behind the shop fronts.